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John C. Cotey, Times Correspondent

John C. Cotey

John Cotey is a Cheesehead, born in Milwaukee and a graduate of Marquette University High School. He fled Wisconsin for a long career as a college student at the University of South Florida. At USF, he walked into the school paper one day to apply for a job as political cartoonist, and he walked out with a sports assignment. He joined the Times in 1991 (after eight months at the Winter Haven News Chief). He is married, with two daughters and two sons. In his free time he likes drooling over Apple products he can't afford, listening to Prince and trying to keep his lawn from turning brown (again).

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  1. State tennis: Shorecrest's Litsky adds to title haul

    Tennis Preps

    CASSELBERRY — Shorecrest's Peter Litsky was ready for a long match.

    His opponent wasn't. They rarely are.

    Playing with precision and near perfection, Litsky capped an impressive season with the Class A overall singles championship, beating Pensacola Catholic's Christopher Ephron 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday morning at Red Bug Park.

    Litsky won four matches this week, including three in the individual tournament bracket against other district champions at No. 1 singles whose teams did not advance. He won each of those in straight sets....

    Shorecrest’s Peter Litsky shows off his medal, winning the overall Class A title.
  2. State tennis: Academy at the Lakes duo nets first title

    Tennis Preps

    CASSELBERRY — Anna Waller will be attending Steinbrenner next year, and Daniella Moreno is graduating. But before they departed Academy at the Lakes, they wanted to leave the school with a little something.

    Its first state championship.

    Mixing outstanding net play with a strong baseline and service game, the Waller-Moreno tandem won the Class A overall doubles championship by topping American Heritage 6-3, 6-1 Wednesday morning at Red Bug Park....

    AATL’s Anna Waller, left, and Daniella Moreno show off their state hardware.
  3. State tennis: Shorecrest's Litsky breaks through for title

    Tennis Preps

    CASSELBERRY — Since losing in last year's district final to a player had beaten twice in the regular season, Shorecrest junior Peter Litsky has thought a lot about where he will be Wednesday morning:

    Playing for the Class A overall singles championship.

    The Charger cruised through the singles competition and capture the individual singles championship for No. 1 players whose teams did not make it to state, beating Miami's Richard Torres 6-2, 6-4 Tuesday at Red Bug Park....

    Shorecrest’s Peter Litsky took the individual singles championship in Class A.
  4. State tennis: Wiregrass Ranch repeats, Armwood's Hall wins

    Tennis Preps

    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Last year, the Wiregrass Ranch boys tennis team scraped and scrapped for every point, squeezing everything it could from the hard courts at Sanlando Park to tie for the state championship.

    Tuesday, the Bulls made a little time for relaxing.

    Whipping through the singles competition and capturing four championships, the Bulls delivered an emphatic finish to the Class 3A competition, clinching a state championship before it was even done with all of its singles matches and rendering the doubles competition moot....

    Agie Moreno’s singles win secured Wiregrass Ranch’s second straight state title.
  5. State tennis roundup: Wiregrass Ranch boys lead 3A; several singles players in finals

    Tennis Preps

    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — It was a big day for Tampa Bay tennis players at the state championships Monday, as the Wiregrass Ranch boys put themselves in ideal position to win a second straight title, Carrollwood Day's Jacque Fitz-Randolph looked to end her career with a singles title and Armwood's Justin Hall, Clearwater Central Catholic's Jacque Lazaro and Shorecrest's Peter Litsky put themselves in line for individual titles....

  6. State tennis preview: Reshuffled Wiregrass Ranch lineup looks to repeat

    Tennis Preps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — After his most stressful week as boys tennis coach, Wiregrass Ranch's Dave Wilson is looking forward to the state tournament despite the pressure that may come with it.

    The Bulls, who tied Naples Barron Collier last season for the Class 3A state championship, will be trying to become a rare public school repeat champion from Tampa Bay.

    Only Wharton (2008-10) and Lakewood (1973-75) have won consecutive boys team titles....

    Agie Moreno of Wiregrass Ranch returns to the team for the state tournament after missing the last round while playing in a junior event in California.
  7. Region tennis roundup: Short-handed Wiregrass Ranch prevails

    Tennis Preps

    WESLEY CHAPEL — With its two best players more than 2,200 miles away, defending state champion Wiregrass Ranch went into its region semifinal against Venice on Tuesday with no margin for error.

    "We knew coming in we had to win No. 2, 3 and 4 singles and No. 2 doubles," Bulls coach Dave Wilson said. "That was the way to victory."

    And that was exactly what happened.

    Alejandro Feliciano, who usually plays at No. 4, moved up to No. 2 and won 6-2, 6-2, keying a 4-3 victory for the Bulls....

    Wiregrass Ranch’s Alejandro Feliciano moves up to No. 2 singles to notch an important victory.
  8. District tennis: Hudson boys on top, rest of 2A-8 up in air

    Tennis Preps

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two days wasn't enough to settle very much at the at Class 2A, District 8 tennis championships at River Ridge.

    Hudson captured the boys championship with 14 points behind singles titles from Kevin Waitkevich (No. 2) and Mitchell Ingersoll (No. 5). But the runnerup spot will be settled today in a playoff between Fivay and Tarpon Springs, which tied with 11 points.

    The girls championship will also be decided today, as defending champion Fivay and Tarpon Springs tied with 17 points....

  9. District tennis roundup: Steinbrenner boys nab first title

    Tennis Preps

    TAMPA — Steinbrenner's John Pfingsten hasn't been around long enough to know the history of the Class 4A, District 7 championships held at Hunter's Green, but he changed it with a finishing overhand smash.

    The Warrior freshman delivered the final point of the tournament right down the middle Tuesday afternoon, putting an exclamation mark on a sweep of the doubles matches and a first district championship for the Steinbrenner boys....

  10. Baseball: Strawberry Crest returns to semifinals

    Baseballpreps

    TAMPA — The early quarterfinal games at the 35th annual Saladino Tournament featured a pair of pitchers who started games at the state final four last season.

    But the star of the afternoon at Brandon turned out to be a pitcher who didn't even get out of the first inning in his last start.

    Brandon Harris took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against Bloomingdale and finished with a one-hit shutout as Strawberry Crest rode his right arm to a 2-0 victory and a spot in the tournament semifinals for the second straight year....

    Back on the mound: Jesuit starter Michael Sandborn (24) returned from rest to pitch three scoreless innings against Riverview.
  11. Clearwater's Keith Thurman powers to win on NBC

    Boxing

    Boxing wasn't saved Saturday night, but the sport's first prime-time event on NBC in 30 years was, thanks to an action-packed performance by Clearwater's Keith Thurman.

    After an opening fight that fell flat, it was Thurman's punching power that stole the show in the nightcap as he knocked down and bloodied Robert Guerrero en route to a unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, the main event of the debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series....

    LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 07: Robert Guerrero, left, is hit by Keith Thurman during a Premier Boxing Champions bout in the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 7, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
  12. Clearwater's Keith Thurman carries boxing's prime-time spotlight

    Boxing

    Keith Thurman won't be cashing in this weekend by headlining a lucrative pay-per-view bout on cable television, but he hopes to be part of something bigger: a boxing revival.

    The sport hopes to make a splash on prime-time network television tonight, and Thurman is one of the fighters tabbed with helping get the Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC off to a rousing start.

    Thurman, who is Clearwater raised and St. Petersburg trained by Dan Birmingham, defends his WBA welterweight title against his most formidable opponent to date, Robert Guerrero, in the main event of the inaugural Premier Boxing Champions card....

    Keith Thurman postures as he weighs in for tonight’s fight in Las Vegas against Robert Guerrero, the main bout on NBC’s card.
  13. State boys basketball: Shooting touch eludes Academy at the Lakes

    Preps

    LAKELAND — Academy at the Lakes' magical and surprising run through the playoffs ended Tuesday afternoon.

    The Wildcats couldn't find their shooting range and fell behind early, and despite a handful of rallies, Orlando Agape's speed, length and athleticism made it too tall a mountain to scale as the Saints marched on to the Class 2A state championship game with a 57-36 victory at the Lakeland Center....

    Agape guard Mike Brannum, the game’s leading scorer with 19 points, goes to the hoop against Academy at the Lakes’ Seth Oliver.
  14. Region boys basketball: St. Petersburg 51, Wharton 33

    Preps

    TAMPA — St. Petersburg suffered its worst loss of the season against Wharton, a 41-point beatdown in December.

    Tuesday night, the Green Devils returned the favor.

    Sparked by a strong effort on the boards and an aggressive defense, and helped by a cold-shooting bunch of Wildcats, St. Petersburg kept its unlikely playoff run going with a decisive 51-33 victory in a Class 8A region semifinal....

  15. Sickles' McCloud officially joins Clemson

    Footballpreps

    For those hoping there was something to the social media buzz claiming Sickles' Ray Ray McCloud III might be changing his mind and was ready to shock the world by choosing USF, well, your window was open for about 60 seconds.

    McCloud said he woke up at 7 a.m., and by 7:01 his letter of intent was being slipped into the fax machine by his mother making, official what he told everyone during a 30-minute cable television special dedicated to his decision three months ago: He was going to Clemson....

    Ray Ray McCloud III poses with family friend Kamari Williams, 5, during signing day at Sickles High. He is headed to Clemson.