Monday, December 18, 2017
Sports

Tennis: Nothing is for sure in 3A-9 tourney

LAND O'LAKES — There's a relative order to the Pasco County tennis landscape, and it starts with Wiregrass Ranch. Land O'Lakes sits right behind the Bulls, who have dealt both the Gator boys and girls their only defeat this season.

So with district tournaments next week and two teams advancing to regions, the logical step would be projecting the Gators to move on.

But that would be trying to predict the Class 3A, District 9 tournament. And that looks to be a foolhardy endeavor.

The first-time mix of four Pasco County teams and six Hills­borough squads is the start to the uncertainty, but it extends to the playing surface, the upcoming draw — and Wiregrass missing its top two boys.

Play starts Monday morning at Hillsborough Community College. But first comes what should be an eventful seeding meeting Friday afternoon.

"It really will be the luck of the draw," Gators boys coach Jasalyn Gerazounis said.

"It will be difficult to argue for your player (seeding) because Pasco County schools only face other Pasco schools during the season, Hillsborough teams play each other, and never the two shall meet."

Three of the 10 players in each bracket will earn a seed based on rankings. Then it's up for grabs. The fourth-best player could get drawn against the No. 1 seed while the fifth-best could get an easier opponent and a better chance to earn a team point.

Land O'Lakes girls coach Karen Turman, the district tournament director, spent Wednesday writing players' names on tennis balls. Yes, that's how the draw will be conducted.

Then the fun really begins. Wiregrass Ranch, Land O'Lakes, Mitchell and Sunlake are the Pasco squads with Hillsborough's Chamberlain, Freedom, Gaither, Middleton, Robinson and Spoto.

But they won't be alone. Two other districts will hold their tournaments at the same time. And 3A-8 (an all-Hillsborough district) got dibs on the hard courts, putting the Pasco teams on clay. Pasco County teams never play on clay.

"I was able to get them out there for one practice day last week, and the response from the girls was, 'What? It isn't red?' " Turman said. "No, this is not the red clay of Paris. Clay is a whole new thing. They don't know how to slide on it."

Fortunately for the Gators, their No. 1 player does. Kayva Avancha has played in several tournaments and gave her teammates — Nos. 2-5 Deneen Wang, Sophie Pawlak, Anne Schwartz and Joslyn LaFond — some pointers. Avancha's focus is on earning a rematch with Brianna Miah. Wiregrass' No. 1 barely topped Avancha 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 recently.

"I was a little nervous at first," Avancha said. "And I still had her 5-4, 30-0 in the first set before I lost it. I definitely want to play her again."

Land O'Lakes visits Pasco in a tuneup today. Pasco lost 4-3 to Wiregrass earlier this season.

The Gator boys — David Dollbaum, Albert Xing, Christopher Mo, Eric Lee and Jeffrey Gu — are "athletic and well-rounded enough" to Gerazounis that playing on clay isn't a major issue. Lee and Gu are undefeated.

Whatever the team scores, the No. 1 singles and doubles champions advance to the state tournament. Mitchell's Daniel Lukish, who won a three-setter against Dollbaum on Tuesday, is certainly a candidate.

Mitchell coach Jamie Hinmon was able to plead her case to the YMCA of Palm Harbor, which has two clay courts. The Mustangs got in two days of work on the surface.

Wiregrass would be the hands-down favorite to win the boys title if Augie Moreno and Pedro Fernandez weren't playing in Panama. Meantime, starting Thursday, the whole Bulls squad is in a national team event in Louisville, Ky., and will to return Sunday night.

"And we go right to districts Monday," coach David Wilson said. "If we can get through districts, we're in good shape with everyone back for regionals. On the plus side, we have a pretty deep team."

Comments
The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead, but so did the Bucs

The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in last season's Super Bowl, and no one will let them forget it.Including the Bucs.During a playful exchange on Twitter in May, Tampa Bay trolled its division rivals by posting a photo of Vernon Hargreaves, No. 28, and Ja...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

Bucs Ring of Honor: Which current player will make it?

With Jon Gruden becoming the 11th member of the Bucs’ Ring of Honor tonight, what about current members of the Bucs?Bucs roundtable question: What current Bucs player not named Gerald McCoy is most likely to wind up in the Ring of Honor. Member...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Bucs defense vs. Matt Ryan: What to expect tonight

Atlanta and Matt Ryan are in town to face the Bucs on Monday Night Football, so it's a chance to revisit a quarterback Tampa Bay knows well, with 19 meetings over the past 10 seasons. A couple of talking points for tonight's game and the challenge ah...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Know the foe: Texas Tech

Know the foe: Texas Tech

A look at Texas Tech, which faces USF in the Birmingham Bowl on SaturdayNickame: Red RaidersRecord: 6-6 (3-6 Big 12)Wins: vs. Eastern Washington, 56-10; vs. Arizona State, 52-45; at Houston, 27-24; at Kansas, 65-19; vs. Baylor, 38-24; at Texas, 27-23...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Will Jon Gruden be the Bucs’ coach next year?

Rick and Tom podcast: Will Jon Gruden be the Bucs’ coach next year?

Jon Gruden will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor tonight, but could it be more than just that as the Glazers may be looking for a new head coach come January? In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss whether Gruden would coac...
Updated: 3 hours ago
LeBron wears one black shoe and one white shoe, speaks about Trump

LeBron wears one black shoe and one white shoe, speaks about Trump

WASHINGTON — LeBron James made a statement during an NBA game with his shoes — one black, one white, with the word "equality" in capital gold letters on the back of each.Then, after the game, James made a statement about President Donald Trump, sayin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Jets turn tables on Blues at home

Jets turn tables on Blues at home

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Connor Hellebuyck was happy to have a hand in helping the Jets get some payback. Less that 24 hours after Winnipeg was shut out in St. Louis, Hellebuyck made 24 saves as the Jets returned the favor with a 4-0 victory over the Blu...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Monday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballHouston Baptist at Michigan State6 p.m.Big TenNorthern Arizona at USF7 p.m.820-AMNebraska-Omaha at Kansas7 p.m.ESPN2Charleston Southern at FSU7 p.m.ESPNU; 1010-AMNorthern Illinois at Marquette7 p.m.FS1Purdue-Fort Wayne at India...
Updated: 12 hours ago

PITTSBURGH — The Patriots have built a dynasty on second chances. Miss an opportunity to bury the Super Bowl champions and they will find a way to find a way, usually behind a mix of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski and defensive playmaking at just the r...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 12 hours ago