Things might shake out differently than in years past at this week’s district tennis tournaments.
Usually, the Wiregrass Ranch boys (13-0) advance to region and have a good shot at state. Same for a girls player at Wiregrass, as well as teams such as Pasco, Land O’ Lakes and Mitchell advancing players and/or teams out of the district tourney.
However, many teams aren’t as deep and many of the top players opted out of the regular season or won’t be present at the district tournament, so there might be new faces at the regions.
“There are top teams in Pasco, but there are, probably, I would say nine teams that are competitive with each other in the county, but it really depends on your district,” Wiregrass boys coach Dave Wilson said. “I think Pasco schools will do well, but it’s kind of an unknown with so many new, out-of-county teams in some districts.”
Wiregrass will be without its top players — Augie Moreno and Pedro Fernandez will be playing in Panama — for the district tournament, but they played the required four matches to qualify for the tourney. If the Bulls advance to regions, Wilson said, Moreno and Fernandez will play.
However, Wiregrass feels uneasy heading into districts because it hasn’t seen district opponents such as Gaither and Chamberlain, both of which are top competition.
Meanwhile, Land O’ Lakes’ boys team brings a solid bunch with the likes of David Dollbaum, Albert Xing, Christopher Mo, Eric Lee and Jeffrey Gu, while Mitchell’s Daniel Lukish is in the mix to advance to state. On the girls side, Land O’ Lakes’ Kayva Avancha leads the way with junior tournament experience, though the Wiregrass girls went undefeated in Pasco.
Across the county, Pasco’s boys and girls teams are expected to either advance or give their lone Citrus and Hernando County opponents a tough time. Josh Morris and Mady Johnson lead the boys and girls, respectively.
But it’s probably going to take some serious coaching during this year’s districts.
“We’re going to need a lot of points from four and five (seeds),” Wilson said. “I imagine a lot of teams will because there’s not a dominant force out there. Everyone is competitive, and, actually, that makes for good matches.”