LONGWOOD -- A year ago, Pierina Imparato and Shene Disbergen stood on the same Sanlando Park courts as Cypress Bay’s hopes of a first state girls’ tennis title heartbreakingly slipped through their fingers.
Given a second chance at the clinching point on Wednesday, the duo had no intention of revisiting that empty feeling — even as they stood two games from elimination.
Quickly squaring their Class 4A doubles semifinal when play resumed from Tuesday’s storm delay, Imparato and Disbergen emphatically slammed the door on any Dr. Phillips comeback with a 10-4 third set over the Panthers’ Alizee Michaud and Emma Peterson.
“We were really focused,” Disbergen said. “We knew each point was really important, so we just came out really focused. We didn’t want to miss a ball.”
Not only did Imparato and Disbergen give Cypress Bay their 12th point in the team scoring, it froze Dr. Phillips as their final pursuer. The Panthers would have reached 12 by winning the doubles bracket.
Minutes later, the Lightning’s No. 2 doubles team of Sibel Can and Michelle Eisenberg left no doubt defeating Miami Palmetto’s Sofia Dao and Stephanie Levine in straight sets.
“They did everything we’d planned out,” Lightning coach Marina Stewart exclaimed. “I’m so very happy — for them, for me, for the school, for everybody.”
Though Cypress Bay’s boys have produced two Class 4A crowns in the past four years, the girls have only recently established themselves. All five Lightning girls are sophomores, with four a part of last year’s state runners-up.
Imparato and Disbergen were among those freshmen, playing for the deciding point in a last-match showdown against Tampa Plant that would break an 11-11 tie.
The Lightning tandem won the first set 6-2 against Plant’s Blair Martin and Gabby Rodriguez, but lost the next two as they found themselves maddeningly unable to close out games.
“That gave us motivation to come back this year and win it — to make sure of it,” Imparato said.
Disbergen added: “[That loss] didn’t go away overnight for me. It stung for a little while, but then when we started training for the new season, we forgot about it. We said the past is the past and this is brand new.”
The final step wasn’t easy, though. After dropping the first set 2-6, the Lightning changed their strategy to put both players on the baseline rather than one at the net. The second set stood 4-4 when Tuesday’s rains came —encouraging, but still two games from a loss.
“They stuck with the same plan,” Stewart said. “They knew [Wednesday] morning they had to be very consistent. … Once they won the first game [for a 5-4 lead], I knew they could do it.”
Sagemont’s hopes of another Class 1A boys’ state title got off to a rocky start when just one player reached the singles finals. The Lions stood a distant third after the first day, five points behind Port St. Lucie Morningside and three behind All Saints of Winter Haven.
“There are some strong teams this year — teams that I’ve never seen very strong,” said coach Steven Browne. “It’s pretty tough.”
The Lions’ path became more difficult without No. 2 singles player Andrew Quiros, whose ongoing success at an international tournament in Barbados kept him from joining the team. No. 4 Christopher Tasker reached his singles final, and both doubles teams won their opening match.
Pembroke Pines Charter had a tough day at the Class 3A tournament, with only one of their singles players getting out of the first round.