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Eagles getting closer to their first victory

The Springstead boys team (0-9) hasn't won, but at leastthe Eagles are losing tighter matches, coach Terry Hoffman said.

With No. 1 player Johann Pambianchi back from a shoulder injury, the Eagles fell 4-3 to Crystal River and 5-2 to Mitchell.

And that is progress.

"We're actually winning some, as opposed to getting blanked," Hoffman said.

Pambianchi is 4-0 despite the effect his injury has on his serve.

"He can serve, but it's more of a second serve," Hoffman said. "He's playing a defensive game all the way through, but he's playing it very well."

Pambianchi's return allows Hoffman to shuffle his team, moving players into matches closer to their abilities.

Springstead's best chance for a win this season might be Thursday against Central (1-5). The Eagles dropped their first match to Central 4-3.

Eddie Dawson, flipped between No. 4 and No. 5 singles, leads Springstead with a 5-4 record.

STILL WAITING: Hoffman, who applied for the Central football vacancy, said he has not been informed whether he is in the group of 9-12 finalists to be interviewed.

CENTRAL GIRLS: The Bears improved to 8-1 last week with a 5-2 victory over Citrus.

No. 1 Jennifer Ales, No. 4 Jessica Nicolai and No. 5 Katie McCabe won in singles. Ales and Shelane Etchison won at No. 1 doubles, and Nicolai and Paula Nagarajan won at No. 2 doubles.

"It was a tough match," Bears coach Joe Nicolai said. "We didn't have Kacy Howard; she was up in Washington, D.C. on a field trip-type thing, so we moved Katie McCabe up and she went split sets but won.

"It really came down to doubles, and Shelane had a sprained ankle, but they won."

SPRINGSTEAD GIRLS: The Eagles (2-6) got their second win by avenging a loss to Crystal River.

Springstead, powered by victories from Leah Garcia, Jenna Pecsenka, Michelle Gimbel and Laura Heslin in singles and the No. 1 doubles team of Garcia and Gimbel, topped Crystal River 5-2.

"The last time, we had lost 3-4 and I told them I wanted a 4-3 win," Eagles coach Louise Harres said. "They gave me a 5-2."

Harres said her players utilized some of her strategies to earn the win.

"We're trying to encourage them to play smarter rather than harder," she said. "On the approach shot, make them move; don't hit it right at them.

"Work hard on getting the ball back one more time than the opponent. Stay focused. The focus helped with Crystal River."

Harres has kept her top doubles squad together although Pecsenka has ousted Gimbel at No. 2 singles.

"Leah and Michelle work real well together," Harres said. "Jenna had been practicing harder in the summer, so right now she is better than Michelle."

_ BRANT JAMES

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