With a young team already facing an uphill battle to defend Sagemont’s Class 1A boys’ tennis title, coach Steven Browne brought a few extra passengers up to this week’s state tournament.
Call it a down payment on next year.
As Sagemont finished a distant third in Thursday’s final team standings, Browne could only hope the nucleus of future teams was taking mental notes about what it takes to put the Lions back atop the podium.
“We brought guys up to kind of see the whole thing,” said Browne, who guided the Lions to two of the previous three titles.
“We have a lot of guys around the same level; I could easily interchange our [Nos.] 3, 4 and 5 with other guys. I just wanted to bring them up to get the feeling of what it’s about.”
Port St. Lucie Morningside proved the dominant team this year, winning four of the five singles divisions on the way to 18 of a possible 21 points. All Saints Academy (Winter Haven) followed with 12 points, with Sagemont another six points back.
“Third place is not too bad,” Browne said. “We were trying to maybe sneak a tie for second, but things didn’t work out that way.”
To pull that off, the Lions needed to sweep their lone singles final and both doubles crowns. Instead, Chris Tasker fell to Morningside’s Marcello Balderrama in the No. 4 singles, and both doubles teams lost in the semifinals.
“We played some good matches in the first set,” Browne said, “but we just ran out of gas.”
It was a challenging week from the start. Sagemont came to Red Bug Lake Park without its No. 2 player, Andrew Quiros, who qualified for the main draw of this week's Barbados Junior International and stayed long enough to reach the second round.
That left Browne shuffling his lineup as his Nos. 3-5 players all moved up.
“I kind of put everybody out of position,” Browne said. “But we’ll regroup. My team won’t be as young next year, a little more seasoned.
“Honestly, I’m just looking at making sure our young kids prepare for next year. Maybe they thought it was easier than it happened for them. We’ve got a few kids in our ninth grade and middle school we’ll look at. I brought them here so they’ll know what it takes.”
Ransom Everglades rolled to its second Class 1A girls’ title in three years, racking up 19 points to leave runner-up Delray Beach American Heritage nine back. The Raiders reached the final in every division, capturing four singles titles and the top doubles crown.
On the individual side, Westminster Academy’s Courtney Meredith made her way to the singles final before succumbing in straight sets to Maria Ross of Sarasota’s Out-of-Door Academy.
Ransom Everglades 19 points, Delray Beach American Heritage 10, Windermere Prep 9, Gainesville P.K. Yonge 3, Tampa Prep 3, Bradenton St. Stephen’s 3, Palm Beach Gardens Benjamin 1, Maclay 1.
No. 1: Allegra Hanlon (RE) def. Paige Leavy (TP), 6-2, 6-4.
No. 2: Claudia McKenzie (RE) def. Angelica Blake (AH), 6-4, 6-0.
No. 3: Daniela Lopez (RE) def. Melissa Sakar (AH), 1-6, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 4: Kasey Moore (AH) def. Lindsey Mendelson (RE), 6-1, 6-2.
No. 5: Heather Boehn (RE) def. Casey Accola (WP), 6-0, 6-2.
No. 1: Allegra Hanlon/Daniela Lopez (RE) def. Dominique Mortier/Melissa Sakar (AH), 1-6, 6-4, 10-1.
No. 2: Rebecca Costa/Hannah Rosenfield (WP) def. Claudia McKenzie/Lindsey Mendelson (RE), 6-2, 4-6, 10-7.
Singles: Maria Ross (Sarasota Out-of-Door) def. Courtney Meredith (Westminster Acad.), 6-2, 6-3.
Doubles: Maria Ross/Mary Ann Rompf (Out-of-Door) def. Rachel Bercovitch/Sophia Chavarria (West Palm Beach Oxbridge), 6-2, 6-1.
Port St. Lucie Morningside 18 points, Winter Haven All Saints 12, Sagemont 6, Windermere Prep 5, Bradenton St. Stephen’s 4, Pensacola Catholic 2, Ransom Everglades 1, Gainesville Oak Hall 1.
No. 1: Elio Livi (Morn) def. Christopher Ephron (PC), 6-3, 7-5.
No. 2: Wyatt Lovera (Morn) def. Thomas Hughes (AS), 6-4, ret. (injury).
No. 3: Miguel Negre Fernandez (AS) def. Nicolas Nakhlouf Rivero (WP), 6-4, 6-0.
No. 4: Marcello Balderrama (Morn) def. Chris Tasker (Sage), 6-4, 7-6 (4).
No. 5: Zachary Walker (Morn) def. Aldo Gomez (AS), 6-1, 7-5.
No. 1: Elio Livi/Wyatt Lovera (Morn) def. Brian Berdusco/Zachary Bessette (SS), 6-3, 2-6, 11-9.
No. 2: Holleman Hughes/Miguel Negre Fernandez (AS) def. Marcello Balderrama/Logan Walker (Morn), 6-2, 1-6, 10-6.
Singles: Evan Holvoet (St. Petersburg Canterbury) def. Shaun Berman (Miami Country Day), 7-5, 6-1.
Doubles: Fred Albion/Richard Torres (MAST Academy) def. Andrew Dykeman/Joseph Brander (Boca Raton St. Andrew’s), 6-4, 0-6, 10-7.
Naples Barron Collier 15 points, Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch 5, Jensen Beach 8, Palm Coast Matanzas 6, Tallahassee Leon 2, Tampa King 2, Mourning 1, Springstead 0.
Niceville 13 points, St. Johns Creekside 12, Naples Barron Collier 10, Lakeland 7, Ocala Forest 3, Jensen Beach 2, Pembroke Pines Charter 1, Venice 1.