ALTAMONTE SPRINGS -- Cypress Bay’s improbable run to a sweep of the Class 4A tennis titles ran out of steam a set too soon.
With the boys having long taken care of business for a second consecutive boys’ crown Thursday, the unheralded Lightning girls stood on the verge of its first championship when Pirerina Imparato and Shené Disbergen took the first set of the decisive No. 1 doubles final against Tampa Plant.
Instead, Plant’s experienced duo of Blair Martin and Gabby Rodriguez wore down the Cypress Bay freshmen on the way to a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 triumph. The result gave Plant 12 points in the team scoring, one ahead of the Lightning.
“I think they felt the pressure a little bit,” Lightning coach Marina Andreoni-Stewart said. “They wanted to be the first team to win a [girls’ tennis] championship for the school. They won that first set and felt pressure.”
Martin and Rodriguez won 12 of the match’s final 15 games, breaking Cypress Bay’s serve seven times during the stretch. The Panthers also won the No. 2 doubles crown, beating Palmetto’s tandem of Emma Peterson and Alexandra Schlesinger in straight sets.
Plant’s doubles sweep was the same formula it used a year ago to share the team title with Dr. Krop.
It was a harsh end for what had been a promising Cypress Bay run. Despite four freshmen in the lineup and no seeded players, the Lightning held a one-point lead after the first day. Disbergen and Michelle Eisenberg went on to win their singles divisions.
Cypress Bay had gone 10-0 in dual matches this season before capturing the district and regional crowns.
“Of course we’re disappointed right now, but overall I think we did great,” Andreoni-Stewart said. “Almost everybody’s a freshman, and we got three girls to the singles finals. We didn’t expect to get this far.”
Cypress Bay’s boys, on the other hand, were a strong favorite with four No. 1 seeds and the other at No.2.
Needing just one more point to complete their title defense, Gianluca Massa provided it quickly with a 6-2, 6-2 victory in the No. 2 singles final over Krop’s Paul Pierre-Louis.
No. 3 Christopher Morin and No. 5 Scott Plutt also won singles titles, then teamed to win the No. 2 doubles crown for the last of the Lightning’s 17 points. Coral Gables finished a distant second with 10.
“Winning a state title at any time is tremendous. To do it back to back here is really special,” coach Vincent Grossi said. “I know everyone back at school has been pulling really hard for us.”
The only disappointment, perhaps, is that Ryan Smith won’t get a second crack at Olympia’s Sebastian Beltrame for the overall singles title. Smith was denied a rematch when he fell to Krop’s Alex Knight in straight sets.
“Ryan got a little careless at times and got out of the strategy that he wanted to implement,” Grossi said. “But give credit to Alex for playing such a great match. He’s a tremendous young player.”
At the Class 2A tournament in Casselberry, University School’s doubles team of David Omsky and Ryan Khan will play for the overall doubles title after capturing the individual bracket. They’ll face Chase Perez-Blanco and Baker Newman of Gulliver Prep, which swept to the team crown with a perfect 21-point score.