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Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay tennis teams

All-area tennis players of the year, from left, St. Petersburg High School's Adam Ambrozy, 18, of South Pasadena, Countryside High School's Rehaana Butt, 17, of Palm Harbor, Shorecrest Preparatory School's Peter Litsky, 18, of St. Petersburg,  Wiregrass Ranch High School's Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez, 17, of Wesley Chapel, Citrus Park Christian School's Olivia Jablonski, 14, of Lutz, and Wesley Chapel High School's Sandra Swiderski. 14, of Wesley Chapel.
All-area tennis players of the year, from left, St. Petersburg High School's Adam Ambrozy, 18, of South Pasadena, Countryside High School's Rehaana Butt, 17, of Palm Harbor, Shorecrest Preparatory School's Peter Litsky, 18, of St. Petersburg, Wiregrass Ranch High School's Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez, 17, of Wesley Chapel, Citrus Park Christian School's Olivia Jablonski, 14, of Lutz, and Wesley Chapel High School's Sandra Swiderski. 14, of Wesley Chapel.
Published Jun. 1, 2016


Pinellas Co-Players of the Year: Peter Litsky, Sr., Shorecrest and Adam Ambrozy, Sr., St. Petersburg

Why we picked Litsky: Litsky won the Class A state championship a second straight season. He did not lose a set in any match during the regular season or the post season. In the championship match, Litsky won 6-1, 6-0.

Season highlight: Litsky didn't have to think long about his season highlight. "It was winning the state championship again."

Did you know? Litsky didn't lose a single match all season. "I definitely felt a lot of pressure after winning it last year. That was the only way I could finish the season without disappointing a lot of people. If I lost it would've looked like I got worse."

What's next: Litsky will attend Brown University, where he will play tennis. He plans to major in math and economics.

Quotable: "It takes a lot of time to practice and play at the level you want to. But also, it helps you to be more productive with the time that you have. You have to make certain sacrifices to get to where you want."

Why we picked Ambrozy: Ambrozy returned to high school tennis after a two-year layoff and won the Class 4A title. Like Litsky, Ambrozy was undefeated the entire season and won his championship match 6-3, 6-3.

Season highlight: Not only was it the Class 4A individual state title, but he said it was the whole high school experience. "I enjoyed this season a lot. High school tennis is a very friendly atmosphere. And the build-up to state finals was really fun."

Did you know? Ambrozy played for St. Petersburg as a freshman but skipped the next two years to focus on junior tennis. He returned as a senior to try to win a state championship.

What's next: Ambrozy, who graduated from the International Baccalaureate program, will play tennis at Columbia University. He plans to major in business or finance.

Quotable: "It's tough to try to stay up with everything, but I found it to be manageable. There is a lot of stuff to do between school and tennis, but that's fine with me. I always kept a schedule and made sure everything stayed on schedule."

Hillsborough Player of the Year: Vignesh Bhethanabotla, Sr., King

Why we picked him: Bhethanabotla was undefeated in the regular season and rarely lost a game, let alone a set. In the district final, he injured his back in the first set and played at about 50 percent while losing to Hillsborough's Jacob Kennard.

Season highlight: Bhethanabotla said it was the entire season. "I had a great time the whole season. For most of the season, until districts, I was at the top of my game. I was playing phenomenally. I enjoyed playing with my teammates and I'm going to miss that."

Did you know? While at King, Bhethanabotla had a 7.5 grade-point average. In his senior year, he has worked with students at USF in science research. Over Memorial Day weekend, he traveled with other USF students to the Netherlands to work on a project that removes nuclear particles from waste water.

What's next: Bhethanabotla will attend the University of Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the school's Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER). He plans to earn a double major in chemistry and physics. After that he would like to earn a graduate degree in science and engineering. At least for his freshman year, he does not plan to try out for the tennis team.

Quotable: "When I was about 8 years old my mom said that I had to play a sport. So I started playing tennis. Everything I've learned from tennis I've used in academics. It takes hard work and you have to have the ability to bounce back. Things aren't always going to go your way. But the next day you have to get back on the court. You have to keep pushing yourself."

North Suncoast Player of the Year: Sebastian Castillo-Sanchez, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch

Why we picked him: Castillo-Sanchez played No. 1 singles for the first time in his four years at Wiregrass Ranch. He helped lead a young team back to state. At the Class 4A region final, Castillo-Sanchez had a big singles win over Lakeland's Isaac Nortey, who hadn't lost all season.

Season highlight: Castillo-Sanchez said it was finally getting to be the top player on the team this season. "I played No. 5 last season, and this season I moved up to No. 1 and was the team captain, so that was a lot of fun. Normally, I would play on the fifth court and nobody would see me. Now I played on the No. 1 court and everyone can see you playing."

Did you know? When he's not playing high school tennis, it's tournament tennis. He's been playing the sport since he can remember. "Tennis has pretty much been my life."

What's next: Castillo-Sanchez will play in college at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He said he plans to study computer science.

Quotable: "We had kind of a young team this year after so many players graduated. We didn't know what to expect but we still made it back to states. It was a very fun season."

First team

Aaron Carey, Sr., Countryside: Won a very difficult district by beating both Sebastian Rivera of Steinbrenner and Thomas Harmon of Plant; advanced to Class 4A state tournament.

James Emslie, So., Jesuit: Helped lead a young Tigers team to the Class 2A state tournament as its top singles and doubles player.

Jonathan Judy-Hansen, Fr., Zephyrhills: Was a Class 2A individual state qualifier and won his first match at state.

Jacob Kennard, Sr., Hillsborough: Advanced to the Class 3A state tournament by defeating Bhethanabotla.

Aaron Swartz, Sr., East Lake: Helped lead the Eagles to the Class 3A state semifinals. Won district and region matches as East Lake's top player.

Second team

Nicolas de Quesada, Sr., Tampa Prep

Thomas Harmon, Sr., Plant

Daniel Lukish, Sr., Mitchell

Jonah Plumb, Fr., Dunedin

Albert Xing, Jr., Land O'Lakes

Third team

Connor Cedro, Jr., Berkeley Prep

Tyler Frazee, So., Carrollwood Day

Destiny Okungbowa, Fr., Wiregrass Ranch

Sebastian Rivera, So., Steinbrenner

Luis Sarabia, So., Shorecrest

Honorable mention

Berkeley Prep: Ivan von Greiff; Carrollwood Day: Josh Abrams; East Lake: Brayton Vanhorenbeck; Fivay: Ryan Savoldy, Justin Starling; Freedom: Dean LaGattuta, Jorge Oropeza; Hudson: Eric LaRoche, Mitchell Ingersoll; Jesuit: Gantt Meredith; Land O'Lakes: Max Keenan; Mitchell: Jeremiah Schimka; Ridgewood: Sean Hoyt; St. Petersburg: Devan Upadhyay; Steinbrenner: Nicholas Cary; Tampa Prep: Dawson Ladd; Wiregrass Ranch: Jared Abrams; Zephyrhills: Wesley Purvis.

Coach of the Year: Joe Bloznalis, East Lake. The Eagles advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals thanks to depth. East Lake defeated a good Land O'Lakes team in the district final. After a sweep of Ocala Vanguard in the region semis, the Eagles slipped past the Gators 4-3 in the region final. Bloznalis also coached the girls team, which lost in the region finals to Gainesville.


Pinellas Player of the Year: Rehaana Butt, Jr., Countryside

Why we picked her: Butt rolled through the Class 4A, District 7 tournament and advanced to state. After receiving a bye in the first round, Butt won two matches in straight sets to advance to the final. After dropping the first set, Butt had to retire due to a knee injury. She also advanced to state in doubles with Lenah Monosky. They won two matches before forfeiting their semifinal due to Butt's injury.

Season highlight: "Getting to states for the second straight year was the highlight to my season," said Butt, who went in doubles a year ago. "Being able to see all my friends again this season was really awesome.''

Did you know? Butt played the entire season with a right knee injury. She said in February the diagnosis was tendonitis, but the pain did not go away. She had surgery on the knee a month ago and will not play competitive tennis this summer. As a sophomore she missed some matches with a partially torn rotator cuff in her right shoulder.

What's next: Butt hasn't decided if she will play tennis her senior season for Countryside. She said she will join the swim team in the fall for the first time.

Quotable: "I didn't think I was going to be able to play. Somehow I managed to do it. I didn't feel like giving up just yet. I wanted to try to push through it and I think I did pretty well."

Hillsborough Player of the Year: Olivia Jablonski, 8th, Citrus Park Christian

Why we picked her: Jablonski proved she can play against varsity competition. She qualified for the Class A individual state tournament, where she won her first two matches in straight sets. She lost to eventual state champ Sara Culbertson of Miami Riviera Prep in the semifinals.

Season highlight: As a seventh grader, Jablonski lost in the district semifinals. This season she defeated Harris Caldwell of Seffner Christian to earn a state tournament spot. "I was pretty happy with that. She is a good player and she's older than me, so I had to overcome that mental part of it."

Did you know? Jablonski's father, Pat, played goalkeeper for the Tampa Bay Lightning's first team in 1992-93.

What's next: This summer she will play in USTA junior events, including the Bobby Curtis state tournament in Altamonte Springs and USTA nationals.

Quotable: "My coach when I first started had me hit against older boys, college-aged boys, so I could get used to the pace. By doing that, it didn't bother me much when I played in my age group."

North Suncoast Player of the Year: Sandra Swiderski, Fr., Wesley Chapel

Why we picked her: Swiderski was undefeated in the regular season at No. 1 singles. She advanced to the Class 3A, District 6 tournament, where she ran into East Lake's Geetha Velusamy in the final and dropped her only match of the season.

Season highlight: Swiderski said it was the challenge of playing high school tennis as a freshman. "It was interesting and different. I've never played at this level before so it was a new experience."

Did you know? Swiderski's sister, Sarah, played at Saddlebrook and is now at UNC-Greensboro. It was because of Sarah that Sandra got into tennis. While she has never beaten her older sister, she said "sometimes I've gotten pretty close. I'm closing the gap.''

What's next: Swiderski said she will transfer to Saddlebrook as a sophomore. She will also continue to play in USTA junior events throughout the summer.

Quotable: "It was kind of intimidating to play against seniors. After a couple of matches they would ask me where I was going to college and I told them I'm only a freshman. They were shocked.''

First team

Geetha Velusamy, Jr., East Lake: Qualified for the Class 3A state tournament in singles (after beating Swiderski) and doubles with Sarah Klug.

Annalise Klopfer, So., Clearwater Central Catholic: Seasoned junior tournament player played high school tennis for the first time; advanced to the Class A state tournament.

Caitlin Neal, Fr., Academy of the Holy Names: Class 2A state qualifier fell to top seed Kristina Zieglar of Port Orange Atlantic in quarterfinals.

Sneha Sathish, Sr., King: Has been one of King's top players since her freshman year. Teamed with Robyn Medicielo to earn a state tournament berth.

Grace Curren, Sr., Hernando: No. 1 singles player was difficult to beat all season and played a big part in the Leopards advancing to the Class 2A state tournament.

Second team

Alexandra Kallish, Sr., Plant

Payton Andrews, So., Dixie Hollins

Laurel Wanger, Jr., Largo

Elliott Peterson, Fr., Robinson

Precious Okungbowa, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch

Third team

Maggie Pate, Fr., Durant

Lynnsey Crum, So., Tarpon Springs

Madison Jender, So., Pasco

Cassie Smith, Fr., River Ridge

Vanessa Valencia, Sr., Central

Honorable mention

Anclote: Angela Pickering; Boca Ciega: Jessica Stefan; Carrollwood Day: Avery Hilbig; Clearwater Central Catholic: Gabby Pinero-Crespo, Isabella Dohse; Countryside: Lenah Monosky; Dixie Hollins: Marla Mesa-Montoya; Durant: Amery Vadegrift; East Lake: Sarah Klug; Hernando: Madeline Pickersgill; Hudson: Elena Guy, Brittany Cirnigliaro; King: Robyn Medicielo; Largo: Jasmine Blair; Leto: Nicole Sheler; Mitchell: Isabel Bradley, Hannah Lewis; Osceola: Sara Robinson, Sterling Reese, Robyn Hancock; Pasco: Natalie Sawczuk; Plant: Monica Phipps; Robinson: Ashley Osiason; Seffner Christian: Harris Caldwell; St. Petersburg: Andrea Silva; Steinbrenner: Anna Waller; Sunlake: Raquel Julian; Weeki Wachee: Jasmine O'Connell

Coach of the Year: Alberto Lense, Osceola. Lense guided a team with no seniors to the school's first state tournament. The Warriors started three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. In the Class 3A region final, Osceola slipped past Largo 4-3. It also defeated Largo by a point at the district tournament.