Five brave souls with a high sense of school spirit have come together at Central High to create the most interesting story of the early season in Hernando County boys tennis.
If not for the five, Central would be without a team this year.
"I lost all my kids from last year," Central coach Clark Brown said with dismay. "They decided they wanted to work instead of play tennis. We have a totally new team _ totally inexperienced."
Tom Forrest, a senior, and Kevin Edwards, a sophomore, will share time at the No. 1 position. Shawn Terry, a junior, is at No. 3 and Tim Wright, a senior, will play No. 4. Senior Derek Burnett rounds out the starting five.
"They sort of did me a favor," Brown said. "They've been playing around, but never competitively. I told them if they didn't try out, there would be no team."
The Bears were 2-8 last year and will be hard-pressed to improve on that mark this season."It's a very poor year for boys tennis at Central," Brown said. "We're not looking to do a whole lot."
At Hernando High, coach Joe Solomon is thinking about winning the GCAC title.
"I think it will be a tight race," Solomon said. "We've improved and the other teams have improved. Crystal River and Citrus are strong, and by the end of the season, Lecanto will be much improved. They're well coached and really play hard."
The Leopards, led by senior No. 1 Eby Paul, have opened the new season with three consecutive conference wins over Lecanto, Central and Crystal River. Citrus is the defending GCAC champ. Last year, Hernando was 6-2 in the conference and 7-2 overall.
Paul, a sub-district semifinalist last season, suffered his first conference loss in two years against Crystal River's Mike Li.
Juniors Phillip Borozny, the No. 2 player, and Santi Meija, No. 4, both opened with three wins.
John Connell, a senior, is at No. 3 and Billy Collins, a sophomore, is playing No. 5.
Springstead is solid from top to bottom, but lacks a clear leader.
Jason Glazman, the No. 2 player last season, has moved up to No. 1. Mark Latoria has jumped from No. 5 to No. 2, and Scott Kelczewski remains at No. 3. Jason's twin brother, Justin, stayed at No. 4 and Matt Lai, a transfer from Missouri, is at No. 5.
All five starters are juniors.
"The truth is, most of my kids could play at any position," coach Chuck Bruno said. "But we voted and that's the way it went. Jason could play No. 5 and Matt could play No. 1. Even my No. 6 and No. 7 players can beat my No. 1 and No. 2 players on any given day. When we start our challenge matches, that's the way it might wind up."
Although Bruno has yet to solidify the lineup, he can't wait too long. In order to qualify for district seedings, players must compete in a minimum number of matches at any given position.
"The kids have been around such a long time and they enjoy playing tennis _ those are our strengths," Bruno said. "We have no discipline problems. I like all the kids and they like each other. Our weakness is that we have no dominating player."
Bruno, in his 13th season, directed the team to a 5-6 record last year.