Day 1 of the Class 2A state tennis tournament ended with a Nature Coach girls doubles tandem in the semifinals, but began with Hernando County's top boys player in despair.
Hernando sophomore Chris Nyholm, the District 6 champion who dropped only one match all season, was disqualified from the tournament's individual singles bracket for arriving late Monday for his 8:15 a.m. first-round match at Sanford's Sylvan Lake Park.
The Leopards' lone state qualifier, Nyholm spent Sunday night in a hotel, about 15 minutes from the park, with some Leopards teammates and coach Don Bruzzi.
"I'm at a loss for words, to tell you the truth," Nyholm said Monday afternoon. "If anything, I should've been out there an hour early, not 30 minutes late."
Bruzzi cut short a phone interview Monday, but not before saying, "We just fell behind. It was the first match of the day." He didn't respond to a later phone message seeking more explanation.
Far more punctual — and proficient — was the Nature Coast doubles team of Rachel Conter and Olivia Williams, who dispatched both of their first two opponents in the individual doubles bracket and face top-seeded Miami Gulliver Prep today.
Conter and Williams opened action Monday with a 6-0, 6-1 triumph against Sebring's Kelsie Johnson and Mary Midence, then topped Ridgeview's Chandler Larsen and Elizabeth Roll 6-1, 6-2. Conter, a district singles champion, lost to Viera's Abby Lindsley 6-0, 6-1 in first-round girls singles play.
"They were playing relaxed and had good communication," Sharks coach Louise Downey said. "They kept each other up and kept each other light. …We're proud of them."
Elsewhere, the Nature Coast boys doubles team of P.J. Watterson and Simon Toftegaard fell in first-round play to Crawfordville Wakulla's William Harvey and Jared Lowe 6-0, 6-0.
The 3A tournament, featuring a quartet of River Ridge players, begins Wednesday in Altamonte Springs.