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Citrus finds the way to River Ridge

A new district and unfamiliarity new opponents make for some pretty funny remarks. Consider:

The Citrus boys and girls tennis teams will play perhaps their most important matches of the season at 3:45 p.m. today at River Ridge High. This was pointed out to Citrus No.

1 player Lauren Cornell, and her response was a simple "Where's that at?"

Cornell couldn't be blamed, though. River Ridge is in New Port Richey, and that's a good, long trip from Inverness. But it goes to show you the effect the revolving districts have on district rivalries:there aren't any for the Hurricanes.

But there are important matches, and today is one of those. The Citrus girls are 6-1, River Ridge is 4-0, and aside from Lakeland Jenkins and Lakeland, they are the best teams in the district.

Seeding for the district tournament is at stake, and any coach can tell you that seeding will make or break a team. If Cornell beats River Ridge's undefeated sophomore Marina Deeb at No. 1, it would cinch a 1 or 2 seed for districts, which means easier opponents in the early rounds, which means more points for Citrus, which could mean a trip to the state tournament.

"This one will definitely tell us what's going on with the seeding," said River Ridge girls coach Steve Swenson. "Citrus won't be able to say, "We beat River Ridge,' or we won't be able to say that (at the seeding meeting)."

But aside from the banal seeding that only a coach could appreciate, it is the competition that both teams will be looking forward to more than anything. After all, high school tennis has proved this year to have a wide disparity in talent between the top and the bottom. Make that the top and the middle.

Today, four teams at the top square off. The Knights girls have won every match by 7-0 or 6-1 scores, and Citrus has been equally as impressive. Only Citrus has been tested (in a loss to Lecanto), but the easy road for both teams reaches a speed bump today.

"I look forward to it then," Citrus coach Janet Mulligan said. "The girls could use a challenge."

The River Ridge boys probably won't pose as rigid a test to Citrus as the girls will, but with only one close loss, they should give the Hurricanes their toughest match.

The Hurricanes are 9-0, with seven 7-0 wins and two 6-1 triumphs. They tuned up for River Ridge by trouncing Central Tuesday as players 1-4 won 6-0, 6-0.