Pine Crest tennis coach Brett Kurtz is hoping history will repeat itself this season.
Three years ago, the Panthers’ boys won their first state title with a core group of players that had been on the same team for five years.
That year, Pine Crest dethroned longtime state powerhouse Gulliver Prep.
This season, the Panthers girls are in a nearly identical spot.
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Pine Crest returns a squad that’s been together for the better part of four seasons playing in the school’s tennis program.
And the Panthers’ biggest obstacle in Class 2A is once again, defending state champion Gulliver, which beat Pine Crest in the regional finals again in 2014.
Gulliver is still one of the state’s strongest teams overall led by Julieta Dalmau, Alyssa Pujals and Lindy Lyons.
But this time, Pine Crest might have just the right mix of players and depth to claim the top team spot at state.
Sophomore Stephanie Taylor, a state individual singles runner-up and individual doubles champion as a freshman, leads the talented group.
Seniors Ines de Bracamonte (a No. 2 singles and doubles district champion and No. 3 state champion in 2013) and Kaely Malik (state individual doubles champion with Taylor) are also back. The Panthers got deeper with the addition of Danielle Obolevitch, a transfer from University School.
Sophomore Carly Feldman and eighth-grader Demi Snyder also return to the lineup.
Pine Crest is also participating once again in the Deco Turf National Championships in Chattanooga in March where it finished fourth last season.
Cypress Bay’s girls’ tennis team finally became a state champion last year.
With several players returning, the Lightning hopes it was only the beginning.
Led by its talented core of juniors, Cypress Bay entered the season this week as one of the top favorites to claim the Class 4A state crown.
Douglas is sporting two of the better players in the county.
Kellyn Abbanat, a Navy commitment and Kayla Bynoe, a University of Chicago commitment could make a run to state as well.
On the boys’ side, Cypress Bay appears to be one of the top teams in the state once again.
A veteran group led by seniors Carlos Moreno, Christopher Morin, Michael Plutt and Scott Plutt will try to propel the Lightning to state if it can surpass some of the usual contenders including Coral Gables.
Individually, Broward also had a few of the state’s best returning such as Archbishop McCarthy’s Dimitri Salzman in Class 2A and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Vincent Altino in Class 4A.
Broward season outlook
March 30-April 4: District tournaments.
April 7: Regional semifinals.
April 9: Regional finals.
April 13-17: State tournament at Sanlando Park (Altamonte Springs) and Red Bug Lake Park/Sylvan Lake Park (Casselberry).
BOYS’ 2014 STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 4A: Coral Gables; 3A: Wiregrass Ranch/Naples Barron Collier; 2A: Gulliver; 1A: Morningside.
GIRLS’ 2014 STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 4A: Cypress Bay; 3A: Niceville; 2A: Gulliver; 1A: Ransom Everglades.
TOP RETURNING BOYS’ PLAYERS
Vincent Altino, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr.
Sam Dern, Pine Crest, Jr.
Zacahry Ebenfeld, American Heritage, Jr.
Carlos Moreno, Cypress Bay, Sr.
Christopher Morin, Cypress Bay, Sr.
Michael Plutt, Cypress Bay, Sr.
Scott Plutt, Cypress Bay, Sr.
Dmitri Salzman, Archbishop McCarthy, Sr.
Jordan Skalet, American Heritage, So.
TOP RETURNING GIRLS’ PLAYERS
Kellyn Abbanat, Douglas, Sr.
Ines de Bracamonte, Pine Crest, Sr.
Kayla Bynoe, Douglas, Sr.
Karli Cash, Pines Charter, Sr.
Shelby Groenfeld, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr.
Stephanie Taylor, Pine Crest, So.
Kaely Malik, Pine Crest, Sr.
NOTE: For complete team-by-team capsules, please visit our High School Sports page at www.MiamiHerald.com/sports.
BOYS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
CYPRESS BAY. Last year: 11-0 (State runner-up). Top players: Carlos Moreno, Sr.; Christopher Morin, Sr.; Michael Plutt, Sr.; Scott Plutt, Sr.
DOUGLAS (Coach Bob Bryant, 7th year at MSD, 21st overall). Last year: 9-6. Top players: Evan Bynoe, So.; Jabari Cole, So.; Taylor Streda, Fr.; Charlie Levine, So.; Royce Marnell, Jr.; Brandon Boothe, Sr.
MONARCH (Coach Greg Kennedy, 6th year). Last year: N/A. Top players: Caio Henriquez, Jr.; Alan Nguyen, So.; Tyler Kruger, Jr.; Eric Phan, Sr.
NOVA (Coach J. Bua, 3rd year). Last year: 6-3. Top players: George Alarcon, So.; Jordan Green, So.; Jason Green, So.
TARAVELLA (Coach Dawn Hall, 15th year, 123-54-1). Last year: 11-2 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: Yan Gapeev, Sr.; Brian Kaam, Sr.; Joshua Kreider, Sr.; Kristian Rousseau, Sr.; Eddy Ou, So.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Tobias Croke, 12th year). Last year: 9-3 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: Zachary Ebenfeld, Jr.; Jordan Skalet, So.; Mikey Ozery, Sr.; Romare Gonzalez, So.; Lorenzo Lamo, So.; Kirac Bekisoglu, Fr.
NORTH BROWARD PREP (Coach Jaro Pivarci, 6th year). Last year: 5-4. Top players: Evan Dean, 8th; Guliano Rengifo, Fr.; Alexander Gomez, Jr.; Kevin Shen, Jr.; Eric Nayman, Sr.; Adam Rubinstein, So.
PINE CREST (Coach Farhan Malik, 8th year, 52-21). Last year: 5-4. Top players: Sam Dern, Jr.; Ismail Ercan, Sr.; Chris Kotite, Fr.
CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Bob Ostrander). Last year: 7-5. Top players: Mike Mendez, Fr.; Keegan O’Leary, Jr.; Elias Tavarez, Jr.; Keegan Hinsley, Fr.; Caleb Keller, 8th.
GIRLS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM PREVIEWS
MONARCH (Coach Greg Kennedy, 6th year). Last year: N/A. Top players: Jennifer Nguyen, Sr.; Valeria Mantilla, Jr.; Maria Baglieri, Sr.; Jessica Diez, Fr.
NOVA (Coach J. Bua, 3rd year). Last year: 1-8. Top players: Coral Navarre, So.
TARAVELLA (Coach Dawn Hall, 15th year, 94-81). Last year: 1-12. Top players: Melissa Ramirez, Sr.; Amber Brocki, Fr.; Gabriela Campbell, Sr.; Claudia Leeson, So.; Elizabeth Ramirez, Jr.; Alyssa Cox, Sr.
AMERICAN HERITAGE (Coach Tobias Croke, 12th year). Last year: 7-5. Top players: Aleksi Gottlieb, Jr.; Ronia Dolabany, So.; Anabella Bowen, Fr.; Isabella Chinchilla, So.; Jasmine Levy, Fr.; Micayla Casella, Jr.
PINE CREST (Coach Brett Kurtz, 8th year, 83-17). Last year: 8-1 (Regional finalist). Top players: Stephanie Taylor, So.; Ines de Bracamonte, Sr.; Kaely Malik, Sr.; Demi Snyder, 8th; Carly Feldman, So.