Even as the Gulliver Prep boys were basking in their second consecutive unblemished mark at the state finals, another Miami-Dade school was making a run at tennis perfection.
Ransom Everglades ran cleanly through the first day of the girls’ Class 1A tournament on Wednesday, putting the Raiders squarely in position for a seventh state title.
Despite a scare from No. 1 Allegra Hanlon in her opening match, Ransom locked up a spot in all five singles finals and won both doubles openers. They finished the day with the maximum 12 points, six ahead of Delray Beach American Heritage.
“There may have been [Ransom] teams in the past that have done that,” coach Peter Lehmann said, “but under my direction, it’s the first time we’ve had that kind of result.”
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The Raiders need just four more match wins to clinch their first state crown since 2008, which capped a run of four titles in six years.
Gulliver Prep, meanwhile, put the finishing touches on a second consecutive sweep of boys’ and girls’ titles.
The No. 2 doubles team of Andre Libnic and Ben Roque brought home the boys’ 21st point with a straight-sets victory over Michael Lee and Mark Singer of Fort Myers Bishop Verot. Lagging only slightly behind, the girls tallied their 18th with a victory by Olivia Thaler and Julieta Dalmau in No. 1 doubles.
Those matches were held over from Tuesday, when lightning and heavy rain blew through Red Bug Lake Park and the surrounding communities. Mission delayed, but mission accomplished.
In doing so, the Raiders joined Cardinal Gibbons (1996-97) as the only teams to go unblemished at the state tournament in back-to-back years.
“We just wanted to come in here and win it again — pretty much just beat everyone as badly as possible,” said Chase Perez-Blanco, one of three seniors among the boys.
“That’s the mind-set our team takes — just go out there and show them who’s boss, pretty much.”
That’s what happened after the boys finished Day 1 with just a one-point lead over Gainesville Eastside. The Raiders swept all six meetings on the second day, leaving Eastside nine points in the dust.
The girls were only one step behind, winning 18 of 19 matches on the way to their title. The lone exception came in the No. 3 singles, where Alyssa Pujals was upended in her opening match. Gulliver finished eight points, ahead of runner-up Rockledge.
Even as the Raiders were taking dozens of pictures alongside the banner hanging outside the courts, Ransom was staking its claim to girls dominance.
Not that there wasn’t a stumble at the start. Hanlon lost five of her first seven games against Elena Sava of Bradenton St. Stephen’s, losing the set before recovering to take the second 6-2. The third-set tiebreaker was a nail-biter, though, with Hanlon eventually prevailing 11-9.
A young Ransom boys’ squad faced a much tougher path Wednesday, picking up just one point to end the day in a tie for seventh. It was much the same story for Mourning as the Class 3A tournament got underway in nearby Longwood, falling in all five singles openers.