As Tampa Prep celebrated its Class A, Region 4 title Thursday, sophomore Paige Leavy glanced down at the trophy clutched in her teammate's arms.
"Look at the color," Leavy said. "We're so used to silver."
After back-to-back runnerup finishes, the Terrapins finally earned gold, beating Clearwater Central Catholic 4-1 at Hillsborough Community College to secure their first trip to state since 2006.
"We talked about that: Stay in the moment, and don't think ahead to state," Tampa Prep coach Chris Cary said. "I think they did that pretty much."
Leavy topped Isabella Dohse at No. 1 (6-2, 6-4), and Izabelle Baskette (No. 2) and Meaghan DaSilva (No. 4) churned out wins for the Terrapins. That put the victory - and pressure - on freshman Allie Blair.
Blair was locked in a close match with Bella Collares-Williams at No. 5. Not only did she have to play the biggest match of her career in front of her teammates and fans, she had to battle aching knees.
"Just do my best and pull through," Blair said.
Blair did that, forcing a miscue on the final point to win 6-3, 6-3 and cause the Terrapins to erupt in cheers.
3A: Lakeland won the Nos. 2 through 5 matches in a 4-1 victory over King at the Whiteway Tennis Facility in Temple Terrace. Sneha Sathish was the lone King player to win, defeating Alexis Kelson 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) at No. 1 after trailing 3-0 and 5-3 in the second set. "We won districts. We won the first round of regions. We've got two girls going to state," King coach Don Rooks said. "When it comes down to it, we had a good year."
2A: Visiting Academy of the Holy Names beat Bradenton Bayshore 4-0. The Jaguars went up 2-0 when Caroline Luzo beat Savannah Gray 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 and Olivia Rivas beat Cailin Finnegan 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3. Grayson Garrity then beat Haley Donahue 6-2, 6-2 at No. 4. And it was over when Maddie Bales scored a 6-0, 6-1 win over Cailei Meluch at No. 5.
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Boys: King advances
TEMPLE TERRACE - Wednesday, King won a Class 3A matchup against Bartow without top player Vignesh Bhethanabotla. Facing Lakeland a day later with its full arsenal, King experienced no dramatics.
King's top three won in straight sets, and its No. 1 doubles team, Bhethanabotla and Greg Smith, won 6-0, 6-1 to cap a 4-2 victory at the Whiteway Tennis Facility.
"It felt pretty bad," Bhethanabotla said of his absence, which was due to a science fair. "But I trusted my team."
Bhethanabotla defeated Eric Moots 6-2, 6-2 at No. 1 singles, and Nick Miljus beat Charlie Gardner 6-0, 6-0 at No. 3. The pivotal match came at No. 2, where Smith rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to defeat Alex Maqueira 6-2, 7-5.
"I was trying to hit winners every time," Smith said. "But I ended up just trying to keep it in play and let him mess up. That's how I came back and won."
Lakeland made the doubles matches necessary after picking up wins at Nos. 4 and 5. Cole Yrastorza (No. 4) defeated Rex Miljus 6-1, 6-3, and David Royal outlasted Sebastian Ayala 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.
2A: Visiting Jesuit didn't have an answer for Boca Ciega's top player, Dan Stefan. But the Tigers had everything else figured out in a 4-1 win over the Pirates.
"We were fully aware of how good Dan was at No. 1 singles," Jesuit coach Joe Curtis said. "But he can only get one point. What we wanted to do was take care of business in the other four singles matches and not let it go to doubles. Our depth really was the key."
Stefan defeated Palmer Evans 6-0, 6-0. At No. 2, Max Azzarelli defeated Nikita Goldenberg 6-0, 6-1. No. 3 singles was the closest match. Alex Crosby outlasted Boca Ciega's Richard Mannion 6-1, 4-6, 10-1. That was the longest singles match, and Crosby's win clinched it for the Tigers.
Jesuit's No. 4 player, Gantt Meredith, defeated Dennis Norindr 6-0, 6-0, and Dean Lontoc beat Jason Parisi 6-0, 6-0 at No. 5 singles to round out Jesuit's points.
CLASS A: Host Winter Haven All Saints' swept Berkeley Prep 7-0.
Times staff writerRodney Page and correspondent Bryan Burns contributed to this report, which used information from the Ledger and Bradenton Herald.
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Class 4A: Monday-Wednesday, Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs
Class 3A: Wednesday-April 18, Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs
Class 2A: Monday-Wednesday, Red Bug Lake Park, Casselberry
Class A: Wednesday-April 18, Red Bug Lake Park, Casselberry
Format: Day 1 - First round starts at 8 a.m. Day 2 - Team singles finals start at 8 a.m. followed by team doubles semifinals and finals, individual singles finals and individual doubles semifinals and finals. Day 3 - Overall singles championship at 8 a.m. followed by overall doubles championship.