Miami-Dade County, long known for producing quality tennis talent, did not have a boys’ or girls’ team win a state championship last year for the first time since 1992.
With a huge wave of young talent entering the 2016 season that began Monday, a repeat of that futility is not likely.
Several of the top players from last season are back, including Ferguson senior Jose Ortega, last year’s Class 4A overall singles state champion.
Ortega is the veteran among a talented group of boys’ standout players that includes juniors Andre Libnic at Gulliver Prep and Tom Jaworski at Mourning.
As far as teams go, one of the county’s powerhouses might be ready to end a drought of its own.
Dr. Krop, winner of four state titles, has not brought home the gold since 2010. Hall of Fame coach Mike Kypriss thinks the Lighting should be talented enough to bring home the Class 4A title.
“This is the best team we have had since that last state championship,” Kypriss said. “There’s enough talent to finish in the top three and battle for the title.”
Krop senior Ariel Hollender and junior Arman McLean are two of the county’s best. Last season, the pair qualified for state in doubles. While Ortega is a favorite individually, Krop’s duo should challenge in the team bracket.
Mourning, which went 17-1 last year and finished fourth in Class 3A, should benefit from the return of Jaworski leading a talented, predominantly sophomore group.
Ransom Everglades should have one of the strongest squads in the county overall with a realistic chance of winning Class 1A on both the boys’ and girls’ sides. Ransom’s top four players have high United States Tennis Association rankings.
Gulliver did not reach state in Class 2A — a rarity for a program that won seven of eight state titles prior to last year and won five in a row from 2007 to ’11. Libnic and junior Laurentiu Schinteie lead the Raiders, along with Maxim Karpivin. The Raiders will have to contend with some of Broward County’s best, including defending state champion Plantation American Heritage.
Gulliver’s girls will likely challenge Pine Crest for a return trip to state. The Raiders have a core group led by Tulane signee Julieta Dalmau, an individual state finalist last season, and University of Chicago signee Estefania Navarro. Juniors Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico and Lindy Lyons, as well as senior and Babson College signee Tatiana Ramirez, will add depth in both singles and doubles.
A girls’ team on the rise is Terra, which surprised many last season by earning state runner-up honors in Class 3A.
Senior Sophia Adams, a UNC Greensboro signee, and sophomore Michelle Adan-Pol won the overall doubles state title in 3A. Each went 17-2 as singles players as well.
Although winning a team state title in Class 4A appears to be a major challenge with reigning champion Cypress Bay returning nearly its full squad, Dr. Krop senior Nayia Oden has the potential for a great individual season. Oden, an FAU signee, finished third at state last year and won a district title.
Ransom Everglades’ girls, led by seniors Heather Boehm and Vivien Fernandez, appear to have enough depth to push the top challengers in Class 1A. Boehm has signed with Middlebury College in Vermont and is ranked No. 23 among Florida seniors by Tennisrecruiting.net. Fernandez has committed to Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.
A player to watch in that classification is Riviera Prep’s Sara Culbertson, a senior who is ranked 25th in the state by USTA and is committed to the University of Miami.
March 16-17: GMAC championship
March 28-April 2: Districts
April 5-7: Regionals
April 11-15: State tournament in Altamonte Springs and Casselberry
DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS
Boys – Class 4A: Cypress Bay; 3A: Wiregrass Ranch; 2A: Plantation American Heritage; 1A: Sagemont/Bradenton St. Stephen’s.
Girls – Class 4A: Cypress Bay; 3A: Lakewood Ranch; 2A: Pine Crest; 1A: Delray American Heritage.
TOP RETURNING BOYS
Tom Jaworski, Mourning, Jr.
Ariel Hollender, Krop, Sr.
Andre Libnic, Gulliver, Jr.
Arman McLean, Krop, Jr.
Jose Ortega, Ferguson, Sr.
Johann Rapp, Coral Reef, Sr.
Laurentiu Schinteie, Gulliver, Jr.
Others to watch: Milledge Cossu, Miami Country Day, 8th; Matthew Fung, Palmetto, Fr.; John Michael Holtmann, Ransom, Jr.; Maxim Karapivin, Gulliver, So.; Lucas Nickolich, Coral Reef, Sr.; Antonio Mora, Ransom, So.; Randy Wilson, Palmetto, Fr.
TOP RETURNING GIRLS
Sophia Adams, Terra, Sr.
Michelle Adan-Pol, Terra, So.
Heather Boehm, Ransom Everglades, Sr.
Sara Culbertson, Riviera Prep, Sr.
Julieta Dalmau, Gulliver, Sr.
Kristina Fernandez, Coral Gables, So.
Naiya Oden, Krop, Sr.
Others to watch: Nina Cubero, Carrollton, Sr.; Sarah Dreyfuss, Scheck Hillel, Sr.; Vivien Fernandez, Ransom Everglades, Sr.; Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico, Gulliver, Jr.; Lindy Lyons, Gulliver, Jr.; Estefania Navarro, Gulliver, Sr.; Sofia Quevedo, Coral Gables, Jr.; Camilla Ordonez, Krop, Fr.; Tatiana Ramirez, Gulliver, Sr.; Ansofi Wreder, Palmetto, Sr.
Note: For complete team-by-team outlooks, visit the online version of this story at www.miamiherald.com/ high-schools
BOYS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOKS
DR. KROP (Coach Mike Kypriss, 20th year at KR, 36th overall, 1,059-36). Last year: 19-1 (District champions). Top players: Ariel Hollender, Sr.; Arman McLean, Jr.; Fabrice Bissainthe, Sr.; Nadav Marianowsky, Jr.; Salvatore Brinker, Jr.; Jarad Ratner, So.
CORAL REEF (Coach Nelson Villegas, 6th year). Last year: 11-2 (District champions). Top players: Johann Rapp, Sr.; Lucas Nickolich, Sr.; Simon Galvis, Jr.; David Vasserman, Jr.; Hugo Rodriguez, Sr.
MIAMI BEACH (Coach Diego Garcia, 5th year, 34-13). Last year: 12-2 (Fourth at state). Top players: Nicolas Barone, Sr.; Omar Zarif, Jr.; Quinn McLeod, Fr.; Omar Azzaoui, Sr.; Luca McLeod, Jr.; Jonathan Hirschenson, Jr.
PALMETTO (Coach Kelly Gibson, 9th year). Last year: 9-3. Top players: Randy Wilson, Fr.; Matthew Fung, Fr.; Jonathan Blake, Fr.; Ryan Fung, Fr.; Sam Stone, Fr.; Willie Yang, Fr.
CORAL GABLES (Coach David Weiner). Top players: Jack Lee, Sr.; Daniel Krulig, So.; Chris Tormo, So.; Dylan Carol, Fr.
COLUMBUS (Coach Keith Green, 6th year at COL, 33rd overall). Last year: 6-4. Top players: Christian Barnes, Fr.; Alejandro Noy, Sr.; Felipe Gomez, So.; Luis Socarras, Sr.; Pablo Calissano, Fr.; Christian Ortega, Sr.
MOURNING (Coach Todd Rubinstein, 2nd year at ATM, 15th overall). Last year: 17-1 (Fourth at state). Top players: Tom Jaworski, Jr.; Santiago Uribe, So.; Aziz Abydou, Sr.; Edward Abydou, So.
REAGAN (Coach Kevin Whelan, 1st year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Mauricio Villacres, Sr.; Diego Mateluna, Sr.; Gabriel Bonasi, Fr.; Juan Amaya, Jr.; Carlos Irazabal, Jr.; Nicolas Porras, Jr.
MATER ACADEMY (Coach Juan C. Espin, 5th year). Last year: 2-8. Top players: Armando Jaime, Jr.; Lucas Delvalle, 6th; Marco Acea, So.
GULLIVER (Coach Kelly Mulligan, 27th year). Last year: 14-2 (District champions). Top players: Andre Libnic, Jr.; Laurentiu Schinteie, Jr.; Maxim Krapivin, So.; Nico Ramirez, So.; Christian Otero, So.; Ryan Hellinger, So.
MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Tony Lilly, 2nd year, 7-6). Last year: 7-6. Top players: Josvany Lesende, Sr.; Mattias Wettergren; Christian Esteves; Micheleangelo Gallo.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Peter Lehmann, 6th year at RE, 11th overall). Last year: 13-2 (Fourth at state). Top players: John Michael Holtmann, Jr.; Antonio Mora, So.; Samuel Rubell, Fr.; Grant Dill, Fr.; Patrick Visan, Jr.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Alan Murray, 16th year, 138-50). Last year: 7-4 (District champions). Top players: Milledge Cossu, 8th; Milan Bass, So.; Alexander Slezynger, Jr.; Alex Cohan, Jr.; Evan Meiselman, So.; Alejandro Wills, So.
SCHECK HILLEL (Coach Ildiko Csjrdas, 6th year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Daniel Berkman, Jr.; Sion Cherbin, Jr.; Jacky Kleinbaum, Jr.; Daniel Doron; Myles Gilbert, 8th; Michael Berenstein, 8th.
HEBREW ACADEMY (Coach Scott Berman, 3rd year, 16-6). Last year: 9-4. Top players: Grifi Apoj, Jr.; Caleb Katz, So.; Avi Stein, Jr.
PALMER TRINITY (Coach Jaki Alawi, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: Eric Opaciuch, Fr.; Thomas McMichael, Fr.; Cooper Devine, Fr.; Lucas Maldonado, So.; Michael Gomez, Fr.; Andrew Galan, Fr.
RIVIERA PREP (Coach Jane Forman, 6th year). Last year: 2-5. Top players: Matt Spasic, Sr.; William Culbertson, So.
SLAM (Coach Jennifer Binney, 3rd year). Last year: 0-7. Top players: Vincent Yin, 8th; Giovanni Queiruga, So.
GIRLS’ TEAM-BY-TEAM OUTLOOKS
KROP (Coach Mike Kypriss, 20th year at KR, 36th overall, 1,059-36). Last year: 19-1 (District champions). Top players: Naiya Oden, Sr.; Camilla Ordonez, Fr.; Julie Shillington, Jr.; Mahami Mahama, So.; Tyra Fairley, Jr.; Amanda Berman, Jr.
PALMETTO (Coach Kelly Gibson, 9th year). Last year: 17-0-1 (State runner-up). Top players: Ansofi Wreder, Sr.; Roxanna Montoya, Jr.; Samantha Alicea, So.; Milena Vanderreis, Fr.; Olivia Schuitema, Sr.
CORAL GABLES (Coach David Weiner). Top players: Kristina Fernandez, Jr.; Sofia Quevedo, Jr.; Ashley Penaranda, Fr.; Juliette Bouchet, Jr.
CORAL REEF (Coach Nelson Villegas, 6th year). Last year: 10-1. Top players: Laura Navia, Jr.; Alexandra Hitt, Sr.; Cathy Xia, Jr.; Bruna Decerega, Jr.; Thais Barraque, Jr.
TERRA (Coach Monica D. Mejia, 2nd year, 14-2). Last year: 14-2 (State runner-up). Top players: Sophia Adams, Sr.; Michelle Adan-Pol, So.; Nicole Cinquino, So.
MOURNING (Coach Todd Rubinstein, 2nd year at ATM, 15th overall). Last year: 9-4. Top players: Arina Sharanova, Sr.; Mara Cerrini, Sr.
REAGAN (Coach Myra McKee, 1st year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Jennifer Arias, So.; Anabella Neri, Sr.; Nicole Uzcategui, So.; Mariana Cerro, So.; Natalia Roman, Sr.; Valeria Urbano, Fr.
MATER ACADEMY (Coach Juan C. Espin, 5th year). Last year: 3-7. Top players: Angelica Rodriguez, So.; Jennifer Ollarvides, Jr.; Laura Leon, Jr.; Meylin Garcia, Jr.
GULLIVER (Coach Kelly Mulligan, 27th year). Last year: 17-1 (District champions). Top players: Julieta Dalmau, Sr.; Estefania Navarro, Sr.; Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico, Jr.; Lindy Lyons, Jr.; Tatiana Ramirez, Sr.
MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Tony Lilly, 2nd year, 4-9). Last year: 4-9. Top players: Janette Lesende; Natalie Casadevall; Larissa Alfonso; Angelica Martinez.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Peter Lehmann, 6th year at RE, 11th overall). Last year: 12-3 (State runner-up). Top players: Heather Boehm, Sr.; Vivien Fernandez, Sr.; Marina Pataro, Sr.; Sophie Bullard, Sr.; Lilly Chang, Jr.
CARROLLTON (Coach Max Mangones, 8th year). Last year: 9-5. Top players: Nina Cubero, Sr.; Isabella Leano, 8th; Lucia Pinero, Fr.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Val Banada, 8th year, 39-48). Last year: 7-5 (District champions). Top players: Julia Siegler, 6th; Allexii Bassette, 7th; Celina Lindemann, Sr.; Sasha Bass, Sr.; Jade Iadarola, So.; Mina Segall, Jr.
RIVIERA PREP (Coach Jane Forman, 6th year). Last year: N/A. Top players: Sara Culbertson, Sr.; Nicole Katzarkov, Sr.
SCHECK HILLEL (Coach Ildiko Csjrdas, 6th year). Last year: District runner-up. Top players: Sarah Dreyfuss, Sr.; Alexa Cohen, Fr.; Raquel Dimitri, Fr.; Sara Waxman, Jr.; Orli Algranatti, 8th; Fortuna Cohen, Sr.
HEBREW ACADEMY (Coach Scott Berman, 2nd year, 5-5). Last year: 5-5. Top players: Kayla Herskovitz, Fr.; Brielle Katz, 6th; Kayla Sedighim, Fr.
PALMER TRINITY (Coach Jaki Alawi, 1st year). Last year: 4-6. Top players: Sofia Fornaris, 7th; Isabella Gomez, Fr.; Carolina Gomez, 8th; Emily Himes, Sr.; Daniella Miranda, So.; Kelly Blary, Sr.
SLAM (Coach Jennifer Binney, 3rd year). Last year: 8-4. Top players: Leticia Varela, So.