Miami-Dade High School tennis | Class 2A state tournament

Gulliver Prep has perfect day on court in Class 2A tournament


Gulliver Prep’s boys’ and girls’ teams swept through the Class 2A tournament, virtually ensuring a state title.

Special to The Miami Herald

Kelly Mulligan has seen first-day perfection a couple of times before at the state tennis championships. A double dose, though? That’s almost unheard of.

Until Wednesday.

The longtime Gulliver Prep coach could only smile in admiration after the boys’ and girls’ teams ran the table on opening day of the Class 2A tournament, all but locking up both titles before sundown at Red Bug Lake Park.

“They’re so happy that they’re all there tomorrow,” Mulligan said. “They were saying, ‘I can’t believe we’re all here in the finals.’ It’s such a nice accomplishment.”

Hey, the team that sends everyone to the finals together stays together. Or something like that.

No one can deny it was a lofty goal. And yet the Raiders pulled it off.

“They’re a close team,” Mulligan said, “and they wanted to see everyone make the finals.”

Both teams finished with the maximum 12 first-day points, nearly double the total of their nearest pursuers.

“That’s pretty rare,” Mulligan said. “I know it’s the first time I’ve swept both. It happened with the boys a few years ago; they’ve had some real strong teams. But it’s rare to see both teams do it.”

Tampa Jesuit stands second in the boys’ competition with seven points, one ahead of Plantation American Heritage and Ponte Vedra. Among the girls, Pine Crest and Jacksonville Bolles share second with six points each, one ahead of Holy Names (Tampa).

Two more wins on Thursday — they have at least seven chances — will put another trophy in the Gulliver case. Or two.

Not that the quest for perfection didn’t have a few tense moments. Ben Roque and Patrick Bared had to go three sets in their semifinal matches after dropping the first set; Estafania Navarro did likewise on the girls’ side.

On the flip side, boys’ No. 3 Brian Granoff and girls’ No. 4 Madeline Benn swept their two singles matches without dropping a game.

Despite a tight scoreboard at the Class 4A girls’ tournament in nearby Altamonte Springs, Dr. Krop and Palmetto found the math against them in a quest to catch leader Cypress Bay.

The Lightning led the first-day count with eight points, one ahead of Tampa Plant and two up on Boca Raton. Krop was next with five points, but advanced just one player (Naomi Maehama) to the singles finals and one doubles team still alive.

It was the same scenario for Palmetto, where No. 3 Olivia Schuitema is the Panthers’ lone finalist.

Miami Country Day’s Shaun Berman turned in an improved performance in his Class 1A boys’ singles final rematch against Sagemont’s Jake Albo, but couldn’t flip the result as Albo prevailed 6-0, 1-6, 6-3.

“I had so many chances,” said Berman, who didn’t win a game in last year’s meeting and was stunned to face a similar scenario after the first set. A more aggressive approach helped take the second set, but he couldn’t sustain it.

The good news is that if Berman makes the final again as a senior, Albo will be away at Florida State. “I’m hoping to come back and win it next year,” he said.

Carrollton’s doubles team of Alexandra Fields and Lindy Lyons saw their undefeated season come to a harsh end in their quest for the 1A crown. Rasheeda McAdoo and Mia Horvit, who led a dominant Delray Beach American Heritage to the team crown, triumphed by a count of 6-1, 6-1.

“They were just too good,” Fields said. “Their games were much more aggressive than ours — especially their serves. It was hard to return those serves.”

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