Tennis | Season preview

Gables seeks return to championship status

 

Following a state runner-up finish last year, Coral Gables’ boys appear strong enough to win their first state title since 1972.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Key dates

March 19-21: GMAC championships.

April 1-5: Districts.

April 9: Regional semifinals.

April 11: Regional finals.

April 15-19: State tournament in Seminole County..

Boys’ defending state champs

Class 4A: Weston Cypress Bay.

Class 3A: Naples Barron Collier.

Class 2A: Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest.

Class 1A: Boca Andrews St. Andrews.

Girls’ defending state champs

Class 4A: Tampa Plant.

Class 3A: Naples Barron Collier.

Class 2A: Jacksonville Bolles.

Class 1A: Ransom Everglades.

Top returning players

Boys

Shaun Berman, Miami Country Day, Jr.

Alfredo Perez, Coral Gables, So.

Chase Perez-Blanco, Gulliver, Jr.

Baker Newman, Gulliver, Jr.

Paul A’drey Pierre-Louis, Krop, Sr.

Mirko Radosevic, Coral Gables, Jr.

Alex Knight, Krop, Jr.

Brian Granoff, Gulliver, Sr.

Jeff Mackenzie, Ransom, Sr.

Juan Lorido, Belen, Sr.

Girls

Cassie Pough, Krop, Sr.

Olivia Thaler, Gulliver, Jr.

Julieta Dalmau, Gulliver, Fr.

Sonja Radosevic, Coral Gables, Sr.

Danna Gandelman, Krop, Jr.

Allegra Hanlon, Ransom, Jr.

Daniela Lopez, Ransom, So.

Alexandra Fields, Carrollton, Sr.

Emma Petersen, Palmetto, So.

Boys’ outlooks

Class 4A

1. Coral Gables. Coach David Weiner, 11th year, 100-15. Last year: 10-0 (state runner-up). Top players: Alfredo Perez, So.; Mirko Radosevic, Jr.; Cristian Gazzolo, So.; Danny Spatz, Jr.

2. Dr. Krop. Coach Felix Rydz, 1st year. Last year: 18-2 (third at state). Top players: Alex Knight, Jr.; Paul A’drey Pierre-Louis, Sr.; Alex Rothman, Jr.; Ariel Hollender, Fr.

3. Palmetto. Coach Kelly Gibson, 6th year. Last year: 12-3. Top players: Danny Trainor, Sr.; Mark Hellinger, So.; Mirko Petrovic, Fr.; Victor Garcia, Jr.

4. Columbus. Coach Keith Green, 3rd year, 18-3. Last year: 8-1. Top players: Bernard Tefel, Sr.; Victor Marrott, Sr.; Russel McCoy, Sr.; Nathan Waddell, Sr.

5. Ferguson. Coach Jorge Garcia, 2nd year. Last year: 2-6. Top players: Diego Venegas, Sr.

Class 3A

1. Belen Jesuit. Coach Tim VanScoy. Last year: district champions. Top players: Juan Lorido, Sr.; Raul Cruz, Jr.; William Lorenzo, Jr.; Christian Perez, Jr.

2. Miami Springs. Coach Manny Fabian, 5th year. Last year: 8-3. Top players: David Fernandez, Jr.; Kefyn Tamboboy, Jr.; Cory Harrington, Fr.; Jose Suarez, Sr.

Class 2A

1. Gulliver. Coach Kelly Mulligan. Last year: State runner-up. Top players: Chase Perez-Blanco, Jr.; Baker Newman, Jr.; Brian Granoff, Sr.; Andres Nido, Jr.; Jalen Kupatt, Jr.

Class 1A

1. Ransom Everglades. Coach Peter Lehmann, 3rd year at RE, 9th overall, 82-47. Last year: 10-4 (state runner-up). Top players: Jeff Mackenzie, Sr.; Josh Dughi, Sr.; Andrew Reed, Sr.; John Michael Holtmann, 8th.

2. Miami Country Day. Coach Alan Murray, 13th year, 110-44. Last year: 11-4 (district champions). Top players: Shaun Berman, Jr.; Alec Koss, Jr.; Rafael Kassin, Sr.

3. Hillel. Coach Ildiko Csordas, 3rd year. Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Jeremy Rosner, Sr.; Nadar Marianovszky, Jr.; Daniel Berkman, So.; David Woldenberg, Jr.

4. Palmer Trinity. Coach John Hainline, 2nd year). Last year: N/A. Top players: Alex Brodt, Sr.; Waleed Mneimneh, So.; Beekman Schaefer, So.; Carlos Singer, Jr.

Girls’ outlooks

Class 4A

1. Dr. Krop. Last year: state champions. Top players: Cassie Pough, Sr.; Danna Gandelman, Jr.; Sophia Sultan, So.; Naiya Oden, Fr.

2. Palmetto. Coach Kelly Gibson, 6th year, 70-3. Last year: 11-1 (Fourth at state). Top players: Cary Milanes, Jr.; Emma Petersen, So.; Alex Schlesinger, Sr.; Gaby Montes, Sr.

3. Coral Gables. Coach David Weiner. Top players: Sonja Radosevic, Sr.

4. Ferguson. Coach Janett Toledo, 2nd year. Last year: 3-5. Top players: Jessica Escobar, Sr.; Ivana Guzman, Jr.; Antonella Balladares, Sr.; Sara Chavez, So.

Class 3A

1. Miami Springs. Coach Manny Fabian, 3rd year at MS, 5th overall. Last year: 7-3. Top players: Jocelyn Salazar, Sr.; Erica Bradley, Fr.; Kelly Alvarez, Fr.; Gaby Sanchez, Fr.

Class 2A

1. Gulliver. Coach Kelly Mulligan. Last year: State runner-up. Top players: Olivia Thaler, Jr.; Julieta Dalmau, Fr.; Sara Culbertson, Fr.; Estefania Navarro, Fr.

Class 1A

1. Ransom Everglades. Coach Peter Lehmann, 3rd year at RE, 8th overall, 63-32). Last year: 12-2 (state champions). Top players: Allegra Hanlon, Jr.; Daniela Lopez, So.; Lindsey Mendelson, Jr.; Claudia Mackenzie, Jr.

2. Carrollton. Coach Max Mangones, 5th year. Top players: Alexandra Fields, Sr.; Lindy Lions, 8th; Sima Vasquez, So.; Nina Cubero, 8th.

3. Hillel. Coach Ildiko Csordas, 3rd year. Last year: District champions. Top players: Sarah Dreyfuss, Sr.; Andrea Waxman, Jr.; Dana Sandoval, Jr.; Dani Schede, So.

4. Miami Country Day. Coach Val Banada, 5th year, 20-31. Last year: 7-9. Top players: Megan Tate, So.; Elizabeth Kasparaitis, So.; Calypso Peraticos, 8th; Sasha Bass, Fr.

5. Palmer Trinity. Coach John Hainline, 2nd year. Top players: Halle Parten, Sr.; Carolina Esslinger, Jr.; Nina Aguirre, Jr.; Katerina Coecarello, Jr.

When Mirko Radosevic looks at the years written on the tennis state championship banners at Coral Gables High, he usually thinks the same thing.

“That was such a long time ago,” Radosevic said. “They all say the 1960s or 1970s. It would be great to finally bring one back.”

Most of the familiar Miami-Dade County perennial state championship contenders such as Gulliver, Dr. Krop, Ransom Everglades and Palmetto have squads capable of making it to state again this season.

But the most decorated tennis powerhouse from the county’s past is hoping to continue its big comeback to championship status.

Following a state runner-up finish in Class 4A, the Coral Gables boys’ tennis team appears strong enough to win its first state title since 1972.

The over-four-decade drought, however, separates a talented current group of Cavaliers from a rich tradition that saw Gables win a state-record 16 boys’ state titles in a 25-year span.

“Our school is good in sports like badminton and soccer and getting better in a few others,” Radosevic said. “It would be awesome to say we’re the ones that brought it back in tennis.”

The Cavaliers have earned some individual state titles in recent years. Hector Nieto won a singles title in 2006, and Rafael Alvarez and Emilio Teran won the overall doubles title in 2011.

Radosevic, a junior, and sophomore Alfredo Perez, who is rated one of the top junior players in the country, will play the top two singles spots on a team that is poised to challenge defending state champion Weston Cypress Bay in Class 4A.

Dr. Krop figures to be another strong contender in Dade with its top two players — junior Alex Knight and senior Paul A’drey Pierre-Louis returning.

“We have a strong No. 1 with [Perez] and lots of depth behind him that should help us,” Coral Gables coach David Weiner said.

Perez, who was invited to compete at a Davis Cup event this week in Jacksonville, is expected to have a breakout season. Sophomore Cristian Gazzolo and junior Danny Spatz each won individual district and regional titles last season and will be joined by senior Sebastian Gazzolo and junior Jacobo Nieto, who will replace Alvarez in the lineup.

“The rhythm of play in our matches should be a lot better,” Spatz said. “Our concentration needs to stay strong in tough matches if we’re going to win it all.”

The Cavaliers have a contender on the girls’ side individually who also is from the Radosevic family.

Senior Sonja Radosevic is a two-time regional champion and figures to once again rank among the county’s best girls. Radosevic committed to the University of Denver and is a 4.0 honors student.

Champions reload

As far as Dade girls’ teams go, the two that brought home state championships last season appear poised for a repeat.

Dr. Krop, which shared the Class 4A crown with Tampa Plant last year, returns a strong team led by Louisville signee Cassie Pough and junior Danna Gandelman.

The Lightning needs a talented young group from No. 3 singles down to contribute if it is to win its sixth state title in the past seven years.

Ransom Everglades girls will vie for their fifth state title since 2003 and eighth overall with a strong returning group led by junior Allegra Hanlon and sophomore Daniela Lopez.

Ransom Everglades’ boys were state runners-up in Class 1A last year and will give it another shot led by senior Jeff Mackenzie.

New streak

Gulliver’s boys had their streak of five consecutive state titles snapped by Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest last season. But the Raiders might be in position to start a new championship streak in Class 2A.

Juniors Chase Perez-Blanco and Baker Newman are back along with senior Brian Granoff to lead the Raiders, who will likely clash with Pine Crest down the stretch once again.

Gulliver’s girls, led by junior Olivia Thaler and freshman Julieta Dalmau, will look to improve upon a state runner-up finish and win their first state title since 2007.

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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