CASSELBERRY -- Call Sagemont’s final point on the opening day of the Class 1A tennis state championships a team effort.
Sure, the result will go into the books as a three-set victory for freshmen Andrew Quiros and Austin DeBruyne, pushing the Lions to a one-point advantage over St. Stephen’s Episcopal after the first day at Red Bug Lake Park.
The duo, though, was in need of a second wind after and easy first-set win turned into a battle against Pensacola Catholic’s duo of Casey Lowery and Clark Campion, buoyed by the cheers of more than a dozen teammates and other supporters.
“They had their entourage here pumping them up,” said Sagemont coach Steven Browne, whose response was to summon the rest of his squad to leave the comfort of a nearby bench for a spot along the fence.
“I just said, ‘Let’s regroup for the final set, and I’ll get our entourage ready.’ Hey, tennis is three sets.”
Properly energized, Quiros and DeBruyne raced through a 6-2 final set, allowing the Lions to take nine points of a possible 12 in the opening rounds.
Three Sagemont singles — Jake Albo, Chris Tasker and DeBruyne — reached the finals of their brackets.
St. Stephen’s also placed three in the singles finals, but their other two were knocked off in the opening round. Two bracket finals are Sagemont-St. Stephen’s encounters — Albo against Bernardo Sanson and DeBruyne against Brian Berdusco.
“If we can take two of those three [singles finals], it’ll be a good start for us,” Browne said. “Then we won’t feel as much pressure in the doubles, where maybe we don’t have to win. … If we get all three [singles], I think we can win it all.”
Albo is in pursuit of his second consecutive state singles title and third in a row in doubles.
Though All Saints’ Academy of Winter Haven also is in the mix with seven points, Browne sees the eventual conclusion coming down to a two-team race. Either way, it will be a far different finish than either of his first two years at the Weston school.
Sagemont steamrolled all comers to win the state crown two years ago, and Boca Raton St. Andrews dominated last year.
“This year it’s very even,” Browne said. “I thought at first it [would] be All Saints’ and us and St. Stephen’s. Now Ransom’s out, and All Saints’ is just holding on.”
Ransom Everglades, last year’s state runner-up, stumbled out of the gate and wound up sending no one to the singles finals.
Down the road in Lake Mary, Westminster Academy’s Courtney Meredith breezed to the final of the girls’ 1A individual singles with a pair of straight-sets wins at Sylvan Lake Park.
Meredith, a top junior from Alabama who was home schooled before enrolling at Westminster, booked her place in Tuesday’s final with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Lake Mary Prep’s Danielle Peele. Her opponent in the final will be Jupiter Christian’s Kylee Shipley.
“She’s excited to be here,” Westminster coach Russ Coningsby said. “All of this is a new experience for her, a fun experience. She’s played national tournaments and regional tournaments, so these kinds of tournaments aren’t unfamiliar to her.”
In the Class 3A individual bracket, Fort Lauderdale’s Jennifer Moore reached the quarterfinals before falling to Christie Woodson of Melbourne Eau Gallie.