Friday, May 25, 2018
Sports

Times' all-Hillsborough County tennis teams

Girls

Player of the year: Erica Oosterhout, Jr., Plant

Why we picked her: Oosterhout had no problem sliding into the role as Plant's top player, replacing three-time player of the year Blair Martin. "Now that I'm a junior, I was kind of the person that others looked up to," Oosterhout said. "It was my responsibility to get the other teammates pumped up and ready to go." A year after reaching the state semifinals in No. 2 singles, Oosterhout dominated. She dropped only nine games at state to cruise to the Class 4A team No. 1 singles title. Oosterhout topped Newsome's Kylie Moulin for the overall singles championship and teamed with Gabby Rodriguez to win the overall doubles title at state. That success led Oosterhout's Panthers to finish tied for second in 4A.

Did you know? Oosterhout ramped up her outside tournaments this year, gravitating toward more events with professionals and fewer USTA junior tournaments. She spent last week in Hilton Head, S.C., playing in a $10,000 tournament at the Van Der Meer Tennis Center. Those events have only one match per day, which is nice for her game but tougher for her academics. "I've been missing a lot of school. That's kind of rough," Oosterhout said. "But these tournaments are awesome."

Future plans: Oosterhout is undecided about playing for the Panthers in her final year at Plant. After that, she plans to go to college for at least a year before considering a pro career. "We're going to see what happens next year, especially since I'm going to focus more on tennis," Oosterhout said.

First team

Kylie Moulin, Fr., Newsome: Class 4A, District 6 champ upset East Lake's Angel Deng to win the individual singles state championship and reached the state semifinals in doubles.

Gabby Rodriguez, Jr., Plant: State semifinalist at No. 2 singles teamed with Oosterhout to cruise to the 4A overall doubles state title.

Caroline Lozo, Jr., Academy of the Holy Names: Reached the 2A semifinals in singles and doubles in her fifth trip to state; led her Jaguars to a fifth-place finish.

Paige Leavy, So., Tampa Prep: Terrapins' top player took Tampa Prep back to state for the first time since 2006; finished second in Class A at team No. 1 singles.

Grace Korta, Sr., Steinbrenner: Mercer recruit lost to Oosterhout in the district championship but helped the Warriors reach the region tournament as a team.

Second team

Sneha Sathish, So., King

Tess Studdiford, Fr., Newsome

Monica Phipps, So., Plant

Kathy Tian, Jr., King

Kylie Paul, Sr., Wharton

Honorable mention

Academy of the Holy Names: Caitlin Neal, Olivia Rivas

Armwood: Jadelyn Suddeth

Blake: McCaley Mezrah

Chamberlain: Shannon Nicolas

Durant: Morgan Trask

Newsome: Julia Staddon

Plant: Lauren Corcoran, Korina Hernandez

Riverview: Jamie Tablante, Toni Tablante

Robinson: Bianca Dyer, Alex Rice

Steinbrenner: Maria Mischenko, Kiernan O'Keefe

Strawberry Crest: Morenike Fashoro, Suryanshi Singh

Tampa Prep: Izabelle Baskette

Wharton: Gabby Paul, Andrea Valencia

Coach of the year

Chris Cary, Tampa Prep. After several years of close calls, Cary's Terrapins won their first region championship since 2006. Cary guided a Tampa Prep team with only one senior back to the Class A state tournament, where it tied for fourth.

Boys

Player of the year: Sam Chaffin, Sr., Wharton

Why we picked him: There's a reason Chaffin earned the top singles seed at the Class 4A state tournament and was honored by the district as the county's top player. He dominated in his final high school season and won the Class 4A, District 9 championship in singles and doubles. He finished his career with two straight state semifinals appearances in singles. His best memories, he said, were those spent with his team, including four-year doubles partner Alek Crnogorac. "There's no specific match — it was more of the team," Chaffin said.

Did you know? Even when Chaffin isn't practicing tennis, he spends most of his time outdoors. He bikes often at Flatwoods Park and enjoys swimming. "I love being in the water," Chaffin said. "I like going to the beach."

Future plans: Chaffin has signed with Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers as a three-star college recruit. He chose the Eagles because of its coaches, new campus and close proximity to home. His major and career plans are undecided, though he's considering studying business.

First team

Palmer Evans, Jr., Jesuit: Top player for the region champions and earned the 2A, District 9 title with a three-set victory over Tampa Catholic's Richard Golinello.

Jonathan Heidenberg, Sr., Freedom: SMU recruit won the Class 3A, District 9 crown and took the Patriots to the region tournament.

Stephen Goldman, Sr., Gaither: Narrowly missed upsetting Heidenberg for a trip to states out of one of the area's toughest districts.

Vignesh Bhethanabotla, So., King: Led the Lions to 3A state tournament after winning district titles at No. 1 singles and doubles; made state semifinals at team No. 1 singles.

Alec Josepher, Sr., Plant: Starred at No. 1 singles to take the Panthers to the 4A region finals.

Second team

Richard Golinello, Sr., Tampa Catholic

Gregory Smith, Sr., King

Garrett Watson, Sr., Newsome

Alek Crnogorac, Sr., Wharton

Michael Marinskiy, So., Robinson

Honorable mention

Berkeley Prep: Gray Aloian

Bloomingdale: Andrew Pudas

Chamberlain: Hunter O'Brien, Joseph Fisher

East Bay: Matthew Bell, Mark Bell

Hillsborough: Jake Kennard

Jesuit: Max Azzarelli, Alex Crosby, Gantt Meredith

King: Nicholas Miljus

Plant: Robert Welch, Thomas Harmon

Plant City: Nick Gorman

Robinson: Grant Oken

Sickles: Ryan Walsh

Tampa Prep: Nicolas de Quesada, Danny Palmer

Coach of the year

Joe Curtis, Jesuit. Curtis' Tigers were young, with no seniors, but boasted enough depth to topple Boca Ciega for the region championship. Jesuit finished tied for fourth in the Class 2A state tournament.

Comments
Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

Rays journal: Blake Snell, flying Denard Span finally solve Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Having lost two straight and nine of 12 times overall to the Red Sox, the Rays needed two things to go right Thursday:First, a strong start from Blake Snell.Second, some early runs against Rick Porcello from an offense that had...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Thursday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Home cooking clearly agrees with OF Denard Span. The 34-year-old Tampa product continues to deliver, producing at the plate, running the bases, making diving catches in the outfield, and Thursday, even going over the short sidewall twice in hot pursu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

Bucs’ Ali Marpet: NFL flip-flopping on anthem policy ‘a little bit odd’

TAMPA — This much is clear: The National Football League is focused on getting rid of kneeling players.That was the league's announcement Wednesday in requiring players to stand during the national anthem before games or possibly have their tea...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

Rays once again will ‘open’ with relievers this weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays weren't kidding about being serious that starting relievers gives them the best chance to win.So much so, they plan to do so again this weekend against the Orioles — in all three games. The plan is for Sergio Rom...
Updated: 3 hours ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechki...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

Fight off the frustration, Lightning, and don’t panic

TAMPA — Don't change a thing.Don't blow it up. Don't fire anyone. Don't overreact.Thursday was not an easy day in Lightning Land. It was the day after the end of a season that ended much too soon. It was a day when bags were packed, questions w...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

TAMPA — Hours before the puck dropped at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talked about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We don’t want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

Lightning journal: Ryan Callahan, among others, played hurt

TAMPA — Not surprisingly, several Lightning players went through the playoffs with what general manager Steve Yzerman called "significant injuries."He would not elaborate Thursday on who they were, though he said that information will be made p...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Bucs sign defensive tackle Vita Vea, cornerback Carlton Davis to four-year deals

Two high draft picks that could earn starting jobs signed four year contracts with the Bucs Thursday.The team signed Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, the team's first-round pick.Terms of the deal were not released, but Vea  is expected to r...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 8 hours ago