Joel Berman wanted desperately to ensure the Seminole boys tennis team would have some representation in the second round of the Class 5A State Tournament at the Lakeland City Courts today.
The senior already knew the Seminole girls would return after finishing Monday's action two points behind Nease in the hunt for the state title.
The male Warhawks found themselves down to their last match _ No.
1 doubles. All five singles players and the second doubles team had already bowed out of championship contention.
The hunger was there and Berman was motivated, almost to the point of overzealous excitement. With nearly every baseline volley, Berman's animation flowed like an ode to John McEnroe.
He taunted his opponents _ Ivan Lalic and Nathan Fabrick of Gainesville. He argued with officials and he played to a substantial crowd which had gathered to watch one of the day's most intriguing matches.
Then he, and his partner Lou Scaglione, lost 6-2, 7-6 (7-3).
"I thought we would do better," Berman said. "We had our chances to do better."
Berman, who fell off his trampoline and injured his left shoulder before the district tournament, continued serving under-handed until he was forced to retire in the No.
1 singles semifinal against Pat Gaughan of Lakeland Jenkins. Freshman partner Scaglione, who played to a three-set victory over Gainesville's Stephane Jolicoeur in No.
2 singles, dropped a three-set decision to Arun Lazarus of Bradenton Bayshore 5-7, 6-0, 7-5 in the semifinals.
Scaglione, who had a couple shots at match point, said he just froze.
"I cramped up in my shoulders, legs and calves," Scaglione said. "I hoped to walk it off and finish the match.
The Seminole girls had a lot less trouble playing at Lakeland Jenkins. The top three singles players _ Lori Grey, Lauren Scaglione and Nicole Cercone _ advanced to the final match in their respective brackets. The trio dropped a combined 15 games in six matches. Both doubles teams are also still alive.
In individual action, Jesse Witten of Lely eliminated Lakewood's Brian Nieman and Tarpon Springs' Sean Leitzinger in singles play. Nieman fell 6-0, 6-0 in the first round. Leitzinger, who walked over top-seeded Amer Delic of Wolfson who was a no-show, went down 6-1, 6-0 in the second round.
For the girls, Tiffanie Kalvoda of Boca Ciega got past Mariena Deeb of River Ridge 6-1, 6-2 before being ousted by Shannon Stafford of Buchholz 7-5, 6-2. Kalvoda then teamed with Tomeka Collins to defeat Deeb and Kerri Goldberg 7-5, 7-5 in doubles.