ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — Barron Collier had a bittersweet day at the Class 3A tennis tournament on Thursday.
The boys cruised to their second straight championship, but the girls fell short in their quest for a repeat, finishing in a second-place tie with Chamberlain. Gainesville won the girls title with 12 points, and the Cougars and Chiefs had 10 points.
Barron Collier’s boys won three individual singles titles and the No. 1 doubles title. Reid Carleton and Eric Corace teamed up to defeat St. Thomas Aquinas’ Brennan Boyajian and Jesse Feder in straight sets to advance to today’s individual doubles title match. The Cougar duo will meet a team from Fort Lauderdale at 8 a.m. at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.
“This championship is an outstanding accomplishment for our kids,” Barron Collier co-coach Eric Manring. “It also means a lot to me and my brother (co-coach Tyler Manring). We played for Barron Collier in the 90’s and Ty was a big part of the 1997 state championship team. We’ve got a great tradition here and we believe we’ll keep it going for years to come.”
The Cougars won despite the disqualification of No. 3 singles player David Irvin for a confrontation with Wharton fans. That setback also cost Barron Collier two more potential doubles points, but Barron Collier was never in serious danger of fumbling away the team title.
“We had a comfortable lead after the first day, the default just made things more interesting than they had to be,” Manring said. “But I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the rest of our team. They rose to the occasion.”
Corace wasn’t playing his best tennis in the No. 2 singles final against Adrian Torroella-Cruz of Gainesville. He dropped the first three games before rallying to tie the match at 3-3 when he heard about Irvin’s default.
“At first, I was really mad at David because I thought he did something stupid,” Corace said. “Later, I found out that wasn’t the case at all. But when it happened, I got angry and I started playing much better tennis.”
Corace dropped just four more games the rest of the way in a 7-5, 6-2 win.
Carleton was denied a team singles title and a trip to the overall championship match with a hard-fought and courageous 6-7 (4), 7-5, 5-7 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Boyajian.
Carleton fell behind 3-1 in the third set before battling back to take a 5-3 lead. However, the Pennsylvania native succombed to the Florida heat, as cramps set in and he wasn’t able to get anything on his serve.
“That’s the frustrating thing about it, the cramps came when I was trying to serve out the match,” Carleton said. “I couldn’t get anything on my serve at all. It shouldn’t have gotten to that point though, I missed a ton of shots.”
The girls entered the day in a first-place tie with Gainesville and Chamberlain, but were put squarely on the ropes when No. 4 and No. 5 singles players Gabby Ciferni and Bean Johnstone lost their title matches.
That put the pressure on the doubles teams, with each squad winning their semifinal match to push the team total to 10 points. The Cougars had a shot at a share of the title with Gainesville if the doubles teams could pull out championship wins, but both fell in tough matches decided by second-set tiebreakers.
The No. 1 team of Ciferni and Brittany Delaney lost to Gainesville’s duo of Keri Franknenberger and Casey Simmons, 6-2, 7-6 (6). Barron’s No. 2 team of Johnstone and Grace Johnson fell to Chamberlain’s Jennifer Miller and Chelsea Townes, 6-4, 7-6 (6).
“I had a really good feeling that if we were able to force third sets in each of those matches, we’d be in good shape,” Barron Collier coach Nancy Eberhardt said. “But it just didn’t happen for us. I was proud of the way both teams played, but our girls just ran into some really good doubles teams.”
Eberhardt said the quality of competition was up from last year’s tournament.
“Last year, it was pretty much us and St. Thomas Aquinas, but the addition of Gainesville and Chamberlain really made it a wide-open tournament this year,” she said. “And because we hadn’t seen Gainesville or Chamberlain, we really didn’t know what to expect. It’s easier when you’ve seen a team because you know the girls’ strengths and weaknesses and can relay that information to your team.”
Eberhardt is saying goodbye to three key seniors — Delaney, Johnstone and No. 2 singles player Jordan Vaughan.
“It’s always hard to say goodbye to your seniors,” Eberhardt said. “These girls have given a lot to our program and helped us win a state title last year and finish second this year.”
An elated Manring hoped the program’s second straight state title and fourth in the last nine years will lead to better home facilities for the Cougars. Barron Collier has just four tennis courts and no lights, forcing the team to play its home matches at Veterans Park.
“If we could just get one more court, we’d be able to play all five singles matches at once,” Manring said. “I understand tennis isn’t a revenue generator like football, baseball or basketball but our kids have done a wonderful job and should be rewarded for the work they’ve put in.”
Class 3A tennis tournament at Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs
Barron Collier (BC) 17, St.Thomas Aquinas (ST) 10, Gainesville (G) 8, Wharton (W) 7, Leon (L) 4, Martin County (MC) 3, East Lake (EL) 0, Central (C) 0.
No. 1 — Brennan Boyajian (ST) def. Reid Carleton (BC) 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-5.
No. 2 — Eric Corace (BC) d. Adrian Torroella-Cruz (G) 7-5, 6-2.
No. 3 — Alex Bartholomew (W) d. David Irvin (BC) by default.
No. 4 — Jonathan Drew (BC) d. Hasting Westphal (ST) 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.
No. 5 — Charles Johnson (BC) d. Cory Hudes (G) 7-5, 6-4.
No. 1 — Carleton/Corace (BC) d. Bastian/O’Rourke (W) 6-2, 6-1
No. 2 — O’Neil/Steger (MC) d. Johnson/Irvin (BC) by default
No. 1 — Carleton/Corace (BC) d. Boyagian/Feder (ST) 6-4,6-2.
Gainesville (G) 12, Barron Collier (BC) 10, Chamberlain (C) 10, St. Thomas Aquinas (ST) 7, Leon (L) 5, Celebration (CE) 5, East Lake (EL) 0, Satellite (S) 0
No. 4 — Erin Colton (ST) d. Gabriella Ciferni (BC) 7-6 (5), 6-3.
No. 5 — Sarah Lagnadui (G) d. Bean Johnstone (BC) 6-2, 6-4.
No. 1 — Ciferni/Brittany Delaney (BC) d. Fisher/Mera (C) 6-2, 6-3.
No. 2 — Johnstone/Grace Johnson (BC) d. Colton/Deopsomer (ST) 6-1, 6-1.
No. 1 — Frankenberger/Simmons(G) d. Ciferni/Delaney (BC) 6-2, 7-6(6)
No. 2 — Miller/Townes (C) d. Johnson/Johnstone (BC) 6-4, 7-6 (6)