Prep tennis: Lemon Bay handles Estero boys in 2A regional semifinal

ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay High School junior Yuki Fujii should be pretty busy over the next couple of weeks.

Fujii has qualified for the state weightlifting boys 1A meet April 19 in Kissimmee, and Tuesday won his region semifinals singles tennis match to help the Manta Rays boys team top visiting Estero 4-1 to gain a berth in Thursday’s 2A finals.

The Manta Rays player topped the Wildcats’ Patrick Shipman 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 to clinch the team victory for Lemon Bay. He battled back after starting out slowly.

“I was having problems focusing during the first set,” Fujii said. “Their player (Shipman) had told me how one of his teammates had died (earlier in the season) and that upset me. I managed to regain my concentration and came back.”

Fujii trailed early in the third set, before coming back. With his win, the Manta Rays took a 4-1 lead, making the doubles matches unnecessary.

“I think my forehand was the strongest part of my game today,” he said. “It would be nice if we can win Thursday. That means we’d go on to the state meet besides weightlifting.”

Fujii won the 118-pound division in the district meet to qualify for the state weightlifting finals. He also is a member of the Manta Rays boys golf team.

Lemon Bay won four of the five singles matches, losing only in the No. 1 singles match where the Wildcats’ Gianni Hinkson topped Lemon Bay’s Kade Cicchella 6-2, 6-4.

The Manta Rays won at No. 2 singles where junior Andy Kappelmann beat Jacen Hinkson 6-4, 6-3, No. 3 where Owen Berry topped Denver Mortenson 6-1, 6-3 and No. 5 where Mike Messina defeated Andres Chevalier 6-0, 6-0.

“The big key for us today was Andy winning at No. 2 singles,” Lemon Bay coach Tony Geraci said. “If we had lost there, we might have had to go to two doubles matches to win.

“This is big. We’ve won the district championship two straight years, but lost in the regions semifinals last season.”

Lemon Bay will host either Bishop Verot or Southeast on Thursday. The winner will go on to the state meet April 15-19.

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