BROOKSVILLE - Having finished behind Pasco in district play the past two years, Nature Coast gained a measure of redemption in districts.
On Thursday afternoon, the Sharks completely knocked off the shorthanded Pirates and stamped their collective ticket to states next week, taking the Class 2A, Region IV final, 5-2.
Pasco (15-5), after finishing second to Nature Coast (16-2) in the 2A-District 7 Tournament last week, came in suffering from a significant personnel loss.
The Pirates' No. 1 singles player, junior Joshua Morris, was hit with a six-week suspension after an on-court blowup following his district final loss to the Sharks' Jesse DeWitt.
With Morris out, Pasco was forced to bump every player up a spot in the lineup, and couldn't put together nearly as much fight as in a 4-3 loss to Nature Coast on Feb. 25.
"You always think of what might have been, but you can't think about that," Pasco coach Mickey Wilks said. "You've got to go with what reality is at the moment. Hopefully Josh will learn from this, because I know he feels bad, too. He knows he would have helped the team out a lot today. It's just that 'What if?'
"We were hoping. This is our third straight year getting to the regional championship. This was going to be a great match. Nature Coast we knew was tough. We had a great match in the regular season, 4-3. We knew it was going to be a battle and they were just the better team today."
DeWitt handled Morris' replacement at No. 1, Alex Mitchell, 6-1, 6-3. Conner Schwefringhaus topped Calvin Yann at No. 2, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6).
The Sharks added victories at No. 4, by Alec Lund over Herry Edwards, 6-1, 6-2, and No. 5, by Charles Buckner against Will Waselewski, 6-0, 6-2.
Buckner's triumph made the team win official, negating Dakota Willey's loss to Brendan Ray at No. 3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
By that point the No. 1 doubles match had already gotten underway, and DeWitt and Schwefringhaus completed a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Mitchell and Yann.
Both coaches agreed to go through with No. 2 doubles, where Ray and Edwards combined to bounce Jerry Bianculli and Nick Pais, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
Nature Coast will next take the court Monday in the 2A team portion of the FHSAA Finals, at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry.
"I was worried we would come out flat and I thought we came out and played the first set really strong," Brown said. "Sometimes you get a letdown with what happened with the other team having to adjust their lineup. I didn't want to have that letdown so I really stressed to really play hard early in the sets to get into the match.
"The commitment of the team; when I don't have a practice, then they find a way to get together and practice. And that's all the way through the lineup. We've had a year of experience, too. We're still a young team, but we're pretty experienced."
Nature Coast 5, Pasco 2
No. 1 - Jesse DeWitt (NCT) def. Alex Mitchell, 6-1, 6-3
No. 2 - Conner Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Calvin Yann, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6)
No. 3 - Brendan Ray (PAS) def. Dakota Willey, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
No. 4 - Alec Lund (NCT) def. Herry Edwards, 6-1, 6-2
No. 5 - Charles Buckner (NCT) def. Will Waselewski, 6-0, 6-2
No. 1 - DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Mitchell/Yann, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1
No. 2 - Ray/Edwards (PAS) def. Jerry Bianculli/Nick Pais, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1
Records - Nature Coast (16-2), Pasco (15-5).