CASSELBERRY -- One look at the draw, and Peter Lehmann knew his Ransom Everglades girls faced a bumpy path to successfully defend their Class 1A tennis state crown.
Lehmann’s worst fears came true when his top two players, Allegra Hanlon and Lindsey Mendelson, went out in Monday’s opening round.
And even with maximum points from the rest of the lineup, it might not be enough to catch Delray Beach American Heritage.
“We have not had a great day. I’m not going to lie,” said Lehmann, who also saw Ransom’s boys take their lumps as Weston Sagemont emerged one point ahead of St. Stephen’s Episcopal of Bradenton and two up on Winter Haven All Saints’ Academy.
American Heritage leads the girls’ competition with 10 match wins, as four singles advanced to Tuesday’s bracket finals. Ransom was next with eight points, three ahead of Sarasota Out-of-Door Academy.
“We’re really fighting for that runner-up spot,” Lehmann said. “Even if our [Nos.] 3, 4 and 5 win titles, it’ll be tough [to catch Heritage].”
No. 3 Claudia Mackenzie, No.4 Heather Boehm and No. 5 Vivien Fernandez did their part with straight-sets victories down the line. They also have a chance to crank up a little pressure on Heritage by beating them in the bracket finals.
But there’s nothing they can do about Heritage’s tandem of Rasheeda McAdoo and Mia Horvit, who were making easy work of the No. 1 and No. 2 brackets. McAdoo blitzed Hanlon in the opening round without losing a game.
It was a matchup that might have been more fit for a final, but Hanlon was victimized by a shuffle in the seedings.
Hanlon and McAdoo held the top two spots in the rankings, but the seeding committee elevated Out-of-Door’s Caroline Dailey to No. 1.
That bumped Hanlon out of the seeds — and into an unlucky draw against McAdoo.
“Allegra, poor thing, she was put in a tough position,” said Lehmann, who saw a proposal to reexamine the No. 1 bracket rejected by a 7-1 vote.
Things only got tougher when Mendelson lost her opening match to Out-of-Door’s Maria Ross.
Nor were things any brighter on the boys’ side, when No. 1 Jeffrey Mackenzie was one of three to lose their opening matches. None were more deflating than No. 3 Antonio Mora’s three-set loss to Miles Saffran of Orlando Trinity Prep.
Mora took the first set 6-3, but lost each of the next two in tiebreakers in a marathon that went four hours 10 minutes. The third-set tiebreaker went 7-2 in Saffran’s favor.
“[Saffran] came up with some big shots, and I don’t think Antonio expected that,” Mackenzie said. “It kind of frustrated him.”
Belen Jesuit didn’t have much luck with the draw at the Class 3A boys’ tournament in nearby Altamonte Springs, with only sophomore Alejandro Hasegawa surviving the first round of singles.
Coach Tim Van Scoy could only shake his head as two players — Bryan Rodriguez and Christian Perez — drew first-round assignments against three-time defending 3A champion Barron Collier High. The Naples power also ousted Hasegawa in the semifinals.
“It was a very, very tough competition. A hard road,” Van Scoy said. “Every one of my boys played well, but we ran into tough opponents. It wasn’t a very pretty draw.”
The Eagles’ No. 1 doubles team of Juan Lorido and William Lorenzo managed to reach the second day with a three-set victory in Monday’s opening match.