BROOKSVILLE - Behind dipping temperatures and a whipping 20-25 mph cross wind it took 4:15 Tuesday to reshuffle the Hernando County boys tennis landscape.
With perhaps 15 minutes of daylight remaining, host Nature Coast Technical forged ahead of previously unbeaten Springstead in the county ranks, 4-3.
"We knew it was bound to be close and I thought it would boil down again to No. 2 doubles, that's why I wanted to get it in," expressed NCT's ninth-year skipper Tom Brown, who improved to 11-6 lifetime against SHS.
"It turned out the No. 1 singles match turned the tide. Whoever wanted it the most, I thought would win," declared Brown. "I thought Patrick (Deslaurier) had it (leading 9-5 in the third set of a 10-point tiebreaker), but he made a couple of mistakes."
Brown downplayed the match's significance.
"It's another match," he said. "I'm more geared toward districts. If this were a district match, it would mean a lot more - but it's not."
"The wind was a determining factor," noted veteran Springstead mentor Joe Nicolai, who slipped to 4-2 lifetime against NCT. "They (NCT) played a great match. I just wasn't happy with the 10-point third-set tiebreaker. I thought the kids should have decided it in the best 2-of-3. It is what it is.
"I knew it would be another close match, just like last time."
With the win, the Sharks (8-0 in county, 13-2 overall) snapped a 10-10 series deadlock against their archrivals and made amends for their Feb. 13 loss to the Eagles at Delta Woods Park, 4-3.
After four singles matches, it stood 2-all.
The Sharks claimed victories at No. 3 singles by junior Conner Schwefringhaus (8-3) over Eagle junior Robbie Hoover, (8-4), 6-3, 6-0, and junior Nick Pais (10-1) over Eagle frosh Sam DeAngelis, (8-3), 6-2, 6-1.
"I wanted to get over the hump," declared the 17-year-old Schwefringhaus. "I lost to him in the preseason Simon Toftegaard Tournament. The wind was terrible, but it forced you to change speeds on your shots. I thought I played above average today."
Tuesday was Pais' first match since having his unbeaten season snapped by Tampa-Jesuit's Ian Timmons, 6-1, 6-2.
"It was pretty upsetting, but the kid (Timmons) really played well," acknowledged the 17-year-old Pais. "The biggest lesson learned? That I need to up the speed of my second serves."
In describing Tuesday's win, "I felt pretty comfortable," indicated Pais. "I wish I had a few more matches before districts. My goal next week is to win it."
SHS (6-1 county, 11-1 overall) countered with senior Hank Deslaurier (9-2) trimming Shark sophomore Dakota Willey (9-3) at No. 2 singles, 7-5, 6-2, while Eagle freshman Alex Hoover (12-0) crushed Shark junior Alec Lund (9-3) at No. 4 singles, 6-0, 6-0.
"I thought he (Willey) played a lot better this time than in our last match," analyzed the 18-year-old Deslaurier. "Both of us have improved a lot. My backhand was really working.
"When I was serving with the wind it was great, but when I was on the other side it was a challenge."
"It was pretty tough out there because of the wind," insisted the 14-year-old Hoover. "I had to go with a lot more top spin on the ball. It was a nice win because it keeps me unbeaten."
There were no surprises among the first four completed matches; they were the exact same results as in the Feb. 13 clash.
The 21st match between the two schools tilted at No. 1 singles.
In a 2:20 match, NCT junior Jesse DeWitt outlasted Springstead junior Patrick Deslaurier, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 11-9.
To save time, NCT skipper Tom Brown insisted on playing a 10-point tiebreaker instead of the standard best 2-of-3 match tiebreaker.
Deslaurier led 9-5 before DeWitt rallied to win, 11-9, to allow the Sharks to need only one victory in doubles to clinch the match.
"The key, especially at the end was I just took it one point at a time," recalled the 16-year-old DeWitt. "I really didn't play the best I could. My serve was really working, especially when I had the wind behind me."
On the match's turning point, "I was ahead 3-1 in the second set and felt I allowed him back into the match," admitted DeWitt. "Going into the tiebreaker, I thought all the momentum had swung the other way. I'm just glad I didn't think about the margin when I was down."
At No. 1 doubles, DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (7-1) swept Patrick Deslaurier/Robbie Hoover, 7-5, 6-1, for the clincher.
At No. 2 doubles, Hank Deslaurier/Alex Hoover (10-0) remained unbeaten edging Willey/Pais (1-1), 5-7, 6-3, 14-12.
With the victory, NCT temporarily moves into sole possession of first place in the county ranks at 7-1.
SHS faces Hernando in a makeup match Thursday at the City Courts in Brooksville. With a win over the Leopards, the Sharks and Eagles would finish the season tied for first at 7-1.
Last season, SHS needed only to make up one rained out match against Central, but didn't and finished 6-1 overall.
NCT, which split the season series last season with the Spring Hill netters, finished 7-1 and garnered the county crown.
Springstead at NCT
Nature Coast Technical 4, Springstead 3
No. 1 - Jesse DeWitt (NCT) def. Patrick Deslaurier, 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 11-9.
No. 2 - Hank Deslaurier (SPG) def. Dakota Willey, 7-5, 6-3.
No. 3 - Conner Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Robbie Hoover, 6-3, 6-0.
No. 4 - Alex Hoover (SPG) def. Alec Lund, 6-0, 6-0.
No. 5 - Nick Pais (NCT) def. Sam DeAngelis, 6-2, 6-1.
No. 1 - DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. P. Deslaurier/R. Hoover, 7-5, 6-1.
No. 2 - H. Deslaurier/A. Hoover (SPG) def. Willey/Pais, 5-7, 6-3, 14-12.
Records - Springstead (6-1 county, 11-1 overall), Nature Coast Technical (7-1, 13-2 overall).
All-Time Hernando County
Boys Tennis Champions (2002-13/12 Seasons)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR TEAM W L .PCT COACH
2002 Brooksville-Hernando 4 0 1.000 Brett Teitelman
2003 Brooksville-Central 2 1 .667 Hank Deslaurier Sr.
2004 Brooksville-Hernando 5 1 .833 Brett Teitelman
2005 Brooksville-Central# 5 0 1.000 Hank Deslaurier Sr.
2006 Brooksville-Central# 5 0 1.000 Hank Deslaurier Sr.
2007 Brooksville-Hernando# Tony Miziko
2008 Brooksville-Hernando# Don Bruzzi
2009 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical 5 0 1.000 Tom Brown
2010 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical 6 0 1.000 Tom Brown
2011 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical 8 0 1.000 Tom Brown
2012 Spring Hill-Springstead 8 0 1.000 Joe Nicolai
2013 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical 7 1 .875 Tom Brown
# Denotes Hernando County Tennis Tournament Champion