• P.K. Yonge, Eastside, GHS Onward to State Tennis Tournament


    By Cliff Olsen
    Published: Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 11:44 p.m.

    Three area tennis teams and a handful of area individual players will be heading down to the state tournament in Altamonte Springs and Cassellberry starting today.

    The Gainesville High boys squad are making their second straight trip to state, while the Eastside boys and the P.K. Yonge girls are returning to the big stage for the second time in the last three years.

    The Hurricanes led by Cole Fiegel, The Sun’s 2010 player of the year and Zach Goldberg, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year, cruised through its two regional matches last week. GHS, which placed sixth out eight teams at last year’s FHSAA Class 3A state tournament, opens play on Wednesday with almost its entire team from last spring.

    “Last year was an eye-opening experience for them and we got some bad draws last year, that first round was really tough,” said GHS coach Paul Spradling, who guided the Hurricanes to the Class 5A state title in 1996 and to a share of the championship 1998. “I think we are a little stronger than we were last year and I think we are more experienced, hopefully that will carry over.”

    The lefty-serving Fiegel (17-2), who said he has been battling tendinitis in his left shoulder, is at No. 1 singles, followed by Goldberg (19-0) at No. 2 singles. The pair play together at No. 1 doubles. Peter Slaton, Jacob Gordon and Justin Zambelli round out the three remaining singles positions, with Slaton and Zambelli set as the GHS No. 2 doubles team.

    Naples Barron Collier, the two-time defending state champions and winners of five of the last seven Class 3A state titles are the favorites.

    “The kids and I are excited,” Spradling said. “If we get some good draws, I think we can do well this year. I think if we place in the top three, that is doing well.”

    Eastside, which also coasted through its two regional matches, begins action today at the Class 2A state tournament.

    The Rams are paced by Frazier Springfield at No. 1 singles, followed by Camille Kima, Jon Yoo, Derek Li and Max Curtis, rounding out the singles lineup for coach Dave Porter’s club. Springfield and Yoo play at No. 1 doubles, with Kim and Austin Gillete penciled in at No. 2 doubles.

    The P.K. Yonge girls squad, which is fueled by Jazz Whittaker, The Sun’s 2011 player of the year and Kiah Turner, at the top two singles spots, starts Class 1A state tourney action on Wednesday. Although Whittaker and Turner are not playing doubles together this season, they both have state tournament experience. A year ago, the duo won the FHSAA Class 1A state title on the individual side of the doubles bracket. In 2010, the pair won the Class 1A state crown at No. 2 doubles.

    “Realistically we need to go in there with nothing to lose, play every match like our life depends on it and let the chips fall where they may,” Blue Wave coach Robert Taylor said. “Hopefully we can grab a few points here and there, we’ll see what happens.”

    Madison Sagas is at No. 3 singles, with Marcela Ifju and Darby Townsend at the other two singles spots. Whittaker and Sagas play No. 1 doubles, while Turner and Ifju are at No. 2 doubles.

    As for the area’s individuals, who earned individual state tournament berths by winning district titles at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, Erik Vincek of Buchholz will be a part of the Class 4A singles tournament. He’ll also play doubles with Alex Vlasask. This is Vincek’s third straight trip to the state tournament as an individual.

    Columbia’s Chrissie Reichert, who reached state each of the last two years along with the rest of her Columbia teammates, will be playing individually in the Class 3A tournament.

    “Chrissie knew that her goal was singles, going to state in singles and she realized that goal,” Columbia coach Tabatha McMahon. “Her game has progressed since she was a freshman, she has become a smarter player as a senior. I am proud of her.”

    Eastside’s Lillie Mehan will be part of the individual singles draw in Class 2A. Harrison Thibault of Oak Hall will be in singles action in Class 1A and will play doubles with Apurv Suman.

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