Near the end, as the muscles in his legs finally clenched in agony and the cramps swept over him, King freshman Vignesh Bhethanabotla called out for a trainer.
Bhethanabotla, the Lions’ No. 3 player, was on the verge of defeat in his second-round team singles match Monday.
And in the end, his opponent and the pain got the best of him.
The state tournament didn’t go much better for his teammates, all of whom were eliminated in their Class 3A team singles matches Monday. It was a disappointing finish to the season for the Lions, who were undefeated this season entering Sanlando Park at Altamonte Springs.
King’s Rachael Adler also lost her first-round match in girls individual singles competition.
“Today didn’t go the way we wanted it to go,” King coach Peter Adler said. “But I couldn’t ask more of these kids. They gave it everything that they have.”
Chief among them was Bhethanabotla, who fought off cramps for as long as he could before succumbing at the finish.
Bhethanabotla had complained of tightness in his legs throughout the day, starting with his first-round victory over Henry Lao of Matanzas. Things only got worse in his second-round match against David Fong of Venice.
After a tiebreaking point in the second set, Peter Adler said, Bhethanabotla collapsed to the court in a full-body cramp.
The freshman was eventually taken to a local hospital for treatment. Adler said Bhethanabotla was doing better later in the evening.
“We knew it wasn’t a minor cramp because we’ve seen those before,” Adler said. “Talk about leaving it all out on the court. He gave a great effort.”
King’s three seniors — Kiril Kirkov, Victor Ke and Hengyi Wu — also mounted good fights in their final matches in high school.
Kirkov, the Lions’ No. 1 singles player and a Carnegie-Mellon signee, lost 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 to Jorge Vargas of Barron Collier.
“It was just a matter of a couple shots that could have gone either way,” Adler said. “It’s bittersweet because this is probably the best team I’ve had here at King.”
CDS top seed toppled at Class A in Sanford
At Sanford, Carrollwood Day senior Eric Fitz-Randolph’s sparkling career came to a stunning end on Day 1 of the Class A boys individual tournament.
The bracket’s top seed, Fitz-Randolph struggled with his control and lost in a third-set tiebreaker to Fort Pierce Carroll’s Andrew Blair 3-6, 6-4, 10-6. In lieu of a third set, individual matches on Day 1 are determined via tiebreaker.
Similarly, the Berkeley Prep No. 1 doubles tandem of Stephen Jordan and Gray Aloian also exited early, falling 7-6, 3-6, 10-2 to a team from Fort Myers Canterbury.
“I thought we had the entire draw laid out for us beautifully,” CDS coach John Most said. “(Fitz-Randolph) was going way too big on his forehand and netting a lot of shots … because (Blair) was great. I’m kind of stunned it’s over for him.”
In girls team action in nearby Casselberry, the Patriots, victimized by a merciless draw, were eliminated in four of the five singles spots. No. 1 sophomore Jackie Fitz-Randolph won her opening match before falling 1-6, 0-6 to Rasheeda McAdoo, 17-year-old daughter of NBA legend Bob McAdoo.
Only No. 5 player Casey Brynjolfsson advanced in singles play, earning a pair of three-set wins including a 3 1/2-hour duel.
She and the No. 1 doubles team of siblings Jackie and Lauren Fitz-Randolph — straight-set winners in their opener — advanced to this morning’s action.
Staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.