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Tennis: Pinellas district tournament preview

Largo's courts are in too much disrepair to play tennis.

So the Packers' boys and girls practice at the Highland Recreational Center's cracked courts in Largo and travel for matches. Largo, the only county public school program without a home court, did enough fundraising to hold a few home matches at the Southwest Recreational Complex this year.

"It's tough," Packers coach Mike Pease said. "It's been that way for years."

Despite those obstacles, Largo wins — a lot. The Packers' boys and girls teams made it to regionals the past five seasons, a feat matched only by St. Petersburg during that span.

But Largo has yet to win a district title. The boys and girls teams have finished second the past five seasons. There have been close calls. Four times the boys or girls teams lost by a point.

The champions of the district tournaments will be determined this week, but the sentimental favorite already has been determined.

This is year the Packers could win both team titles.

The girls team is the clear favorite. It is undefeated against its district counterparts and has clinched all seven No. 1 seeds (five singles, two doubles).

Better still, Largo's lineup consists of two juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.

"We have a chance to be good for a while," Pease said.

Kelly Taylor, the lone freshman starter, has made the biggest impact. She rocketed up the depth chart and finished 12-2 playing No. 1 singles. She has not lost a game to a district opponent.

"What I've been able to do this season has exceeded my expectations," Taylor said. "I knew that high school tennis would give me some tough competition, but I've been able to play really well."

The Nos. 2-5 singles girls have lost a combined eight games in six district matches this season. None of the girls has taken private lessons. Some have come out from volleyball. Most have picked up the sport within the past two years.

"We're not a rich country club school," Pease said. "Most of these are self-taught as far as tennis. We have a good team, but it's hard to get players out, especially when you don't have a true home court."

The boys team will need a few upsets to unseat defending district champion Dunedin. But Pease said he didn't have his No. 1 singles player for their regular-season meeting.

"We've been close for so long at the district tournament," Pease said. "We feel like this could be the year. Our goal is to try to win both. That would help give us some recognition. Hopefully, that will help us get our courts resurfaced so we can have home matches."

Schedule

Note: District tennis is played over two days

Class 4A, District 6

Where: McMullen Tennis Center in Clearwater

Begins: Tuesday, 8 a.m.

Teams: Clearwater, Countryside, East Lake, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Seminole, St. Petersburg

Class 3A, District 7

Where: Osceola (1-3 singles, 1-2 doubles) and Seminole (4-5 singles)

Begins: Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.

Teams: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Dunedin, Gibbs, Largo, Northeast, Tarpon Springs

Class 2A, District 9

Where: Martha B. King Middle School, Bradenton

Begins: Monday, 10 a.m.

Teams: Bayshore, Booker, DeSoto County, Lakewood, Lemon Bay, Osceola, Southeast

Class A, District 9

Where: St. Petersburg Tennis Center

Begins: Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.

Teams: Admiral Farragut, Calvary Chr., Canterbury, Clearwater Central Catholic, Indian Rocks Chr., Northside Chr., Shorecrest, St. Petersburg Catholic

Tennis: Pinellas district tournament preview 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 8:12pm]

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