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Tennis: Nature Coast easily hands Wiregrass first loss

BROOKSVILLE — Wiregrass Ranch was the final unbeaten program in Class 2A, District 6, but that was before it ran into its biggest competition for the district crown: Nature Coast.

The Sharks (10-1) walked over the Bulls (8-1) on the shoulders of their top two seeds, P.J. Watterson and Simon Toftegaard. Playing at home Wednesday, Nature Coast won 5-2.

Top seed Watterson (6-2) swept through Wiregrass Ranch senior James Mudge (7-2) 6-0, 6-2. The Bulls star, who is trying to come back from a nagging right pectoral injury, has had trouble with his forehand. Watterson's overpowering serve made Mudge's weakness all the more glaring.

"I was able to hit harder this week, but (the injury) was just bad timing," Mudge said. "P.J. is a great player, and it's very hard to return his serve."

Toftegaard (9-0) defeated James Reilly 6-0, 6-1 to give the Sharks the first two matches. Reilly (7-2), noticeably frustrated during the match, had trouble with the Nature Coast sophomore. Toftegaard and Watterson teamed up again in the first doubles match to take out Mudge and Reilly 7-5, 6-2.

"I had a plan before I came out today," Watterson said. "The most important thing was to stick to it and be consistent."

The only truly successful match for the Bulls came from No. 4 seed Mitchell Phelps (6-1), who was a part of both Wiregrass Ranch victories. Phelps defeated Nature Coast sophomore Tyler Schwefringhaus 7-6 (7-4), 6-1. After toughing out a difficult first-set tiebreaker, Phelps held the mental advantage as the match wrapped. Phelps then won his doubles match, teaming with Austin Hamann to defeat Andrew Lund and Ben DeAngelis 6-2, 6-3.

Tennis: Nature Coast easily hands Wiregrass first loss 03/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 18, 2009 11:54pm]

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