The Barron Collier boys and girls tennis teams begin defense of their state titles Wednesday morning, with both teams competing in the Class 3A state tournament in Altamonte Springs.
The Cougars are fresh off easy wins in the regional finals, with the boys blanking Lakewood Ranch and the girls taking a 6-1 win over Bayshore.
The Lely boys and Naples girls are both in the Class 2A tournament, which starts today at 8 a.m. at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.
Barron Collier girls coach Nancy Eberhardt says her team doesn't feel any additional pressure that can sometimes come with being a defending state champion.
"We've been to the state tournament nine of the last 10 years, so this is nothing new for us," Eberhardt said. "Our girls are confident in their abilities."
Barron Collier boys co-coach Eric Manring says this year will have a different feel for his team.
"It was kind of like a new thing last year, kind of a surprise (making it to states)," Manring said. "This year it's more like we know we belong."
Manring's team has breezed through the regular season, districts and regionals, and that's a bit of a concern for the Cougars.
"It's almost like the season just started. Up until the finals of districts and regionals, we really haven't had a tough match," he said. "Now they've got to kick it into high gear. Their mind-set has got to be this is it — they've got to be ready to go, everyone. All it takes is for the first person to lose in the first round for us to be set back."
Manring says he expects St. Thomas Aquinas to be the main competition for the state title.
"We were neck and neck with them last year," he said. "They have a couple of players that our guys are familiar with."
Naples girls coach Lorrie Lavery thinks her team can make some noise now that it is at state.
"With a young team and playing in the same district as Barron Collier the last few years has been pretty tough," Lavery said. "But this year, we got the best of both worlds. We were still able to play great teams like Barron Collier and Community School and that really got us ready for our district schedule. We're much more competitive in the 2A draw and the girls are excited."
Class 3A state tournament schedule
• Wednesday, Apr. 26 — At Sanlando Park — girls team singles quarterfinal matches, 8 a.m.; boys team singles quarterfinal matches, 9:30 a.m.; girls team singles semifinal matches, 10:30 a.m.; boys team singles semifinal matches, 11:30 a.m.; girls team doubles quarterfinal matches, 1 p.m.; boys team doubles quarterfinal matches, 1:30 p.m. At Lake Brantley High School — boys & girls individual singles first round matches, 8:15 a.m.; boys & girls individual singles quarterfinal matches, 10:15 a.m.; boys & girls individual doubles first round matches, 11 a.m.
• Thursday, Apr. 27 — At Sanlando Park – boys & girls team singles championship matches, 8 a.m.; boys & girls individual singles semifinal matches, 8 a.m.; boys & girls team doubles quarterfinal matches, 9 a.m.; boys & girls team doubles semifinal matches, 9:30 a.m.; boys & girls individual singles and/or doubles championship matches, 10:30 a.m.; boys & girls individual doubles championship matches, noon; boys & girls team doubles championship matches, 12:30 p.m.; boys & girls individual doubles championship matches, 12:30 p.m.
• Friday, Apr. 28 — At Sanlando Park — boys & girls overall singles championship matches, 8 a.m.; boys & girls overall doubles championship matches, 10 a.m.
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Class 2A state tournament schedule
• Tuesday, Apr. 25 — At Hillsborough Community College — boys and girls singles first round, 8 a.m.; quarterfinals, semifinals to follow; boys and girls doubles first round, 11 a.m.
• Wednesday, Apr. 26 — At Hillsborough Community College — boys and girls singles finals, doubles quarterfinals, semifinals & finals, 8 a.m.
• Thursday, Apr. 27 — At Hillsborough Community College — boys and girls overall singles, doubles championship, 8 a.m.