As soon as the rain stopped Tuesday morning, plant operators at Boca Ciega headed to the school's tennis courts. Armed with three wet vacs, two squeegees, three brooms and a leaf blower, crew members worked furiously to get the courts ready for the afternoon's Class 2A regional against Tampa Catholic.
Their hard work paid off.
The Pirates won three of five singles matches and downed the Crusaders 4-3. Boca Ciega will have a day's rest before hosting the winner of today's Jesuit vs. Sarasota Booker match Thursday.
Dan Stefan got things started for the Pirates by defeating Richard Golinello 6-1, 6-2. Stefan, who won the district championship at No. 1 singles and is the defending Class 3A state champion, is 13-0 this season.
Nikita Goldenberg, a transfer from Admiral Farragut, won his No. 2 match for the Pirates, defeating Luke Boyer 6-1, 6-2. Boca Ciega won at No. 3 singles as well, with Richard Mannion defeating Jake Keyser 6-0, 6-2.
Tampa Catholic picked up two points at Nos. 4 and 5 singles. Harrison Winter and Britt Logan both won 6-0, 6-1.
Needing only one win in the two doubles matches, Boca Ciega's Stefan and Goldenberg - 11-0 in doubles - took care of business, defeating Golinello and Boyer 6-2, 6-1.
"We seem to have good chemistry," Goldenberg said. "We have to communicate a lot in doubles, and we've been doing that all season."
Though No. 2 doubles were a formality, Tampa Catholic's Keyser and Logan defeated Mannion and Nathan Larkins 6-3, 6-4.
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Plant opens in Georgia
Plant will play Lowndes (Ga.) on Aug.29 for its first regular-season game of the 2014 season, coach Robert Weiner confirmed.
The game will be the second of a double-header played at the Vikings' Martin Stadium. Manatee and Ware County (Ga.) will play in the first game of the day.
The Panthers' matchup with the Vikings - who finished 9-4 and lost in the third round of last year's 6A Georgia state playoffs - has been in the works for a while, Weiner said. Lowndes coach Randy McPherson was Weiner's defense coordinator when he was head coach of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Last season, Plant went 11-2-1, losing to Apopka in the 8A state semifinal.