TAMPA — Despite not playing with its top two singles players, the Wiregrass Ranch High boys tennis team walked away with the Class 3A-District 9 tournament championship Tuesday, the program’s fifth in a row, thanks to a team effort.
Sabastia Castillo-Sanchez, who normally plays the fifth singles slot, won the No. 3 bracket and No. 2 doubles at Hillsborough Community College.
“That shows the depth of our team,” Wiregrass Ranch coach Dave Wilson said.
Augie Moreno and Pedro Fernandez could not play in the district tournament due to a prior commitment to play in Panama. Nevertheless, the Mustangs played in a national tournament earlier this season, which allowed each player, from No. 1 to No. 5, a chance to prove themselves against stiff competition.
“Playing in four matches there really got us ready for playing these matches,” Wilson said.
Freedom finished as district runner-up, thanks to the play of senior John Heidenberg at No. 1 singles. Heidenberg, who will play for Southern Methodist University, won the No. 1 singles bracket, becoming the first boys tennis player in program history to advance to the individual bracket of the state singles tournament.
Also securing a spot in the individual state tournament bracket was Chamberlain’s No. 1 doubles team of Joseph Fisher and Hunter O’Brien, who advanced to the 3A state tournament after defeating Wiregrass Ranch’s top doubles team, 6-4, 6-4.
3A-8: King bounces back to win championship
TAMPA — Just days before the district tournament, King suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Wharton. Three of the matches were decided by a tiebreaker.
Rather than viewing the tough loss as a setback, however, the players saw it as an opportunity to measure themselves against one of Hillsborough County’s top programs.
“That gave us confidence going into this tournament,” King coach Barrett Zebos said.
That newfound confidence helped in edging Hillsborough for the 3A-8 title at HCC. The Terriers still advance to the state regionals as district runner-up.
Vignesh Bhethanabolta led the charge, winning the No. 1 singles bracket and with teammates Greg Smith, also the No. 1 doubles competition, both against Hillsborough opponents.
2A-7: Nature Coast outlasts Pasco
CRYSTAL RIVER — Nature Coast ended Pasco’s two-year reign as district champion, 19-14, by taking the 2A-7 title at Crystal River.
Pasco junior Christian Yann had a hand in both first-place performances for the Pirates.
The second-seeded Yann claimed his third straight singles crown, this time at No. 3 by beating three opponents, including top-seeded NCT sophomore Dakota Willey in the finals, 6-3, 6-1.
“I had lost to him earlier in the year (6-3, 6-3), but I had a sprained right wrist at the time,” the 16-year-old Yann said.
“It was so bad I couldn’t slice the ball at all. This time, I served so much better, too.”
In the No. 2 doubles finals, Yann/Mark Ray defeated NCT’s Nick Pais/Willey, 6-4, 6-3.
4A-7: Plant holds off Wharton
TAMPA — Plant won the 4A-7 championship at Hunters Green by splitting the two championship doubles matches.
Wharton finished as the runner-up.
Wharton’s Sam Chaffin and Alek Crnogorac took No. 1 doubles, while Plant’s Thomas Harmon and Evan Vancavage were victorious in No. 2 doubles.