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Panthers "psyched' for state

The news came during practice last week and it was a complete surprise to Maggie Lamparelli and Kate Jendro: Regardless of what happened at Friday's regional competition, the two seniors were qualified for the state tennis tournament.

Lecanto coach Virginia Gilbert had spent the previous evening with boys coach Laura Flanagan diligently reading the Florida High School Activities Association manual. And there inserted in small print was the information they had been searching for.

Because Lamparelli won the No. 1 singles title at the district tournament and she and Jendro won the doubles competition, they can compete in the individual division of the Class 4A state championships that begin today at Jenkins High School in Lakeland.

"I'm psyched," Jendro said when she learned she would be advancing. "It's exciting. This is our last year, so this is the year to do it. It will be so cool. We can just end it right there."

Lecanto's Tony Hamon, also the district's No. 1 singles champion, also will compete in the state tournament. Hamon, a senior, and freshman Naveen Reddy will team up for the doubles competition.

Both the Lecanto girls and boys teams dominated during the regular season, never losing a district match. But last Friday, the teams suffered disappointing losses in the regional competition _ matches in which a win would have sent the entire team to state.

But Lamparelli and Jendro's disappointment is tempered by the fact they have won their first district title and the trip to state.

"This is the first time that we won (districts) since we've been here and we're going to state so it feels good," Lamparelli said. "Especially since this is our senior year."

Hamon is making his second trip to the state tournament. He advanced in his sophomore year, but was unable to finish out his junior year. Hamon has said that winning a state title is his ultimate goal.