CRYSTAL RIVER - Nature Coast Technical eased the past two seasons of frustrating second-place boys tennis district finishes to Pasco Tuesday afternoon under chamber of commerce conditions at Crystal River High.
At the conclusion of the two-day, eight-team, single-elimination Class 2A, District 7 Tourney, NCT halted Pasco's two-year reign as district champion.
Under ideal 75-degree temperatures, a slight westerly breeze and with no clouds and little humidity, the Sharks returned to the top of their game pushing all five of their singles players and both doubles duos into Tuesday's final round.
More importantly, ninth-year Shark skipper Tom Brown watched his crew methodically distance itself from the Pirates capturing 4-of-5 singles finals while splitting doubles.
NCT finished with 19 points followed by Pasco (14), Crystal River (six), Weeki Wachee (five), Central (three), Hernando and Zephyrhills tied for sixth place (one), and Wesley Chapel (zero).
Both NCT and Pasco will advance to the 2A-Region IV semifinals next Tuesday.
The Sharks will host the 2A-8 runners-up while Pasco will travel to the 2A-8 champion.
The 2A-8 Tourney began Tuesday at River Ridge and is expected to conclude on Wednesday evening.
The Sharks usurped Pasco atop the 2A-7 ladder behind five champions: juniors Jesse DeWitt, Conner Schwefringhaus and Alec Lund at No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 singles respectively, along with freshman Charles Buckner at No. 5 singles.
At No. 1 doubles, DeWitt/Schwefringhaus blasted Central's Jordan Brickley and Derek Zhang, 6-0, 6-0.
As a result, DeWitt and Schwefringhaus automatically qualify for the 92nd annual Class 2A FHSAA Finals at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford on April 13-16.
"We put ourselves in a position to win this," explained Brown after his team captured 19-of-21 matches (90 percent). "We didn't have any surprises. Even our freshman (Buckner) has the talent to play at this level."
On DeWitt's two top-of-the-podium performances, "He's a solid player; real competitive," pointed out Brown.
On whether Tuesday's victory had any special meaning than his other four district titles, "I'm fortunate to have had some great players play for me," said Brown. "I wouldn't rank this one any higher or lower than the others."
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The only drama belonged to Pasco junior Joshua Morris.
Morris, who had earlier in the season lost to DeWitt, 7-5, 6-4, again fell in a tense final to DeWitt, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
As the match ended, Morris lost his cool. He slung his racquet in disgust toward the net and had some choice words directed at DeWitt.
The CRHS administration, headed up by athletic director Tony Stukes, watched it unfold on and off the court.
Due to Code of Conduct violations stemming from 18.104.22.168.4 in the FHSAA Tennis Manual, Morris was essentially booted from the tourney.
Since it was his last singles match, he officially defaulted as a result of his behavior denying him an opportunity to play in his key semifinal match at No. 1 doubles.
Thanks to the default, Central earned the forfeit win to reach the finals.
"My guy was wrong," explained 11th-year Pasco mentor Mickey Wilkes. "You can't do what he did."
On losing his team's best player during a critical juncture of the tournament, "It was a pretty big kick to the stomach," said Wilkes. "In his defense, he's never acted this way before. He's simply someone who doesn't blow up. To me, he's an easygoing guy. I've never had to calm him down before."
None of this year's NCT district champions won last year.
DeWitt went 3-0 in the most arduous position sweeping Wesley Chapel senior Ethan Taylor, 6-0, 6-0, Crystal River junior Matt Allen, 6-2, 6-1, before solving Morris.
"The (finals) match went pretty much the way we played last time," detailed DeWitt (14-3). "I was playing good, defensive tennis. I thought Josh (Morris) played a really good match."
"After losing the first set, I was real nervous at the beginning of the second," recalled DeWitt. "But I was going for every shot. He's the type of player you can't sit around and watch. This was so big, especially after I lost in the finals last year."
At No. 2 singles, Schwefringhaus reached the finals by disposing of Central's Derek Zhang, 6-0, 6-0, and bopping Crystal River senior Ryan Johnson, 6-2, 6-0.
In the finals, he had a rematch with Weeki Wachee sophomore Mark Mulleavey. Earlier in the season, Schwefringhaus topped Mulleavey, 5-7, 6-3, 10-8.
Though Mulleavey became the first-ever Hornet to reach a district final, Schwefringhaus (12-3l) swept the Hornets' last netter, 6-3, 6-0.
"The match was really not different than the last time we met," insisted the 17-year-old Schwefringhaus. "The key was I didn't let up. Winning a district championship tastes pretty nice. Right now, I'm looking forward to regionals."
Unlike DeWitt and Schwefringhaus, Lund did not face a previous opponent in the finals.
Lund opened the tourney by tattooing Wesley Chapel frosh John Margetis, 6-0, 6-0, and Weeki Wachee freshman Bailey Hypes, 6-0, 6-0.
In the tourney final, Lund (11-3) scuttled Pasco junior Harrison Edwards, 6-3, 6-1.
"It was tight in the beginning of the match; I was a little nervous since this was the title match," said the 16-year-old Lund. "I was really getting my first serve in. It's a nice win, but it's only districts; I wish it were regionals."
Unlike, DeWitt, Schwefringhaus and Lund, the unheralded Buckner received an opening-round bye.
In his first-ever district match, he bounced Crystal River frosh Ryan Grant in the semis, 6-3, 6-0.
In the finals, Buckner (9-2) crushed Pasco senior William Waselewski, 6-0, 6-0.
Similar to Lund, Buckner had not faced Waselewski during the regular season.
"I wasn't real nervous, I wasn't overloading," pointed out the 15-year-old Buckner. "It's a pretty big win because I knew the Pasco guy would be tough to beat."
At No. 1 doubles, the top seeded duo of DeWitt and Schwefringhaus (10-1) eliminated Zephyrhills' Luis Cardenas and Dylan Kinsman, 6-3, 6-1, and Crystal River's Matt Allen and Ryan Johnson, 6-3, 6-1, before pounding Central in the finals.
"It was important to win No. 1 doubles," said the 16-year-old DeWitt. "We liked our chances, but we really wanted to play Pasco. We beat them before in three sets. I thought we played alright, but got the job done."
"This gave me my first trip to states," said the 17-year-old Schwefringhaus. "It was a really big match because I wanted to go. Deep down, I wish we would have played Pasco."
Class 2A, District 7 Boys Tennis Tournament
at Crystal River
Final Team Standings
PL. TEAM POINTS
1. Nature Coast Technical (NCT) 19
2. Pasco (PAS) 14
3. Crystal River (CR) 6
4. Weeki Wachee (WW) 5
5. Central (CEN) 3
6. Hernando (HER) 1
6. Zephyrhills (ZEP) 1
7. Wesley Chapel (WC) 0
Hernando's Individual Results
Singles W L PL
Tristan Chatham 0 1 -
Michael Morgan 0 1 -
Harrison Rose 0 1 -
Eric Kanitz 1 1 -
Jake McKay 0 1 -
TOTALS (5) 1 5
Doubles W L PL
Chatham/Morgan 0 1 -
Rose/Kanitz 0 1 -
TOTALS (2) 0 2 -
Nature Coast Technical's Individual Results
Singles W L PL
Jesse DeWitt 3 0 1st
Conner Schwefringhaus 3 0 1st
Dakota Willey 2 1 2nd
Alec Lund 3 0 1st
Charles Buckner 2 0 1st
TOTALS (5) 14 1
Doubles W L PL
DeWitt/Schwefringhaus 3 0 1st
Pais/Willey 2 1 2nd
TOTALS (2) 5 1
Central's Individual Results
Singles W L PL
Jordan Brickley 0 1 -
Derek Zhang 0 1 -
Jacob Middaugh 0 1 -
Michael Collins 0 1 -
TOTALS (4) 0 4 -
Doubles W L PL
Brickley/Zhang 2 1 2nd
Collins/Middaugh 1 1 -
TOTALS (2) 3 2 -
Weeki Wachee's Individual Results
Singles W L PL
Chris Rosser 1 1 -
Mark Mulleavey 2 1 -
Harrison Rosser 0 1 -
Bailey Hypes 1 1 -
Nick Mullen 1 1 -
TOTALS (5) 5 5 -
Doubles W L PL
C. Rosser/Mulleavey 0 1 -
H. Rosser/Hypes 0 1 -
TOTALS (2) 0 2 -
Jesse DeWitt (NCT) def. Ethan Taylor (WC), 6-0, 6-0.
Matt Allen (CR) def. Tristan Chatham (HER), 6-3, 6-0.
Chris Rosser (WW) def. Luis Cardenas (ZEP), 6-2, 6-0.
Joshua Morris (PAS) def. Jordan Brickley (CEN), 6-4, 6-1.
Jesse DeWitt (NCT) def. Matt Allen (CR), 6-2, 6-1.
Joshua Morris (PAS) def. Chris Rosser (WW), 6-3, 6-4.
Jesse DeWitt (NCT) def. Joshua Morris (PAS), 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Alex Mitchell (PAS) def. Dylan Kinsman (ZEP), 6-0, 6-0.
Mark Mulleavey (WW) def. Michael Morgan (HER), 6-0, 6-0.
Ryan Johnson (CR) def. Peyton Austin (WC), 6-0, 6-1.
Conner Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Derek Zhang (CEN), 6-0, 6-0.
Mark Mulleavey (WW) def. Alex Mitchell (PAS), 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Conner Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Ryan Johnson (CR), 6-2, 6-0.
Conner Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Mark Mulleavey (WW), 6-3, 6-0.
Dakota Willey (NCT) def. Harrison Rosser (WW), 6-0, 6-1.
Thad Anderton (ZEP) def. Harrison Rose, 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Ben Epstein (CR) def. Jacob Middaugh (CEN), 6-0, 6-0.
Christian Yann (PAS) def. Jovan Fyock (WC), 6-0, 6-0.
Dakota Willey (NCT) def. Thad Anderton (ZEP), 6-1, 6-0.
Christian Yann (PAS) def. Ben Epstein (CR), 6-4, 6-2.
Christian Yann (PAS) def. Dakota Willey (NCT), 6-3, 6-1.
Alex Lund (NCT) def. John Margetis (WC), 6-0, 6-0.
Bailey Hypes (WW) def. Jacob Vaughn (ZEP), 5-7, 7-5, 6-1.
Eric Kanitz (HER) def. Michael Collins (CEN), 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.
Harrison Edwards (PAS) def. Matt White (CR), 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2.
Alex Lund (NCT) def. Bailey Hypes (WW), 6-0, 6-0.
Harrison Edwards (PAS) def. Eric Kanitz (HER), 6-4, 6-1.
Alex Lund (NCT) def. Harrison Edwards (PAS), 6-3, 6-1.
Charles Buckner (NCT) -bye
Ryan Grant (CR) def. George Slay (WC), 6-0, 6-1.
Nick Mullen (WW) def. Gavin Larkin (ZEP), 6-2, 6-2.
William Waselewski (PAS) def. Jake McKay (HER), 6-0, 6-0.
Charles Buckner (NCT) def. Ryan Grant (CR), 6-3, 6-0.
William Waselewski (PAS) def. Nick Mullen (WW), 6-1, 6-0.
Charles Buckner (NCT) def. William Waselewski (PAS), 6-0, 6-0.
DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Cardenas/Kinsman (ZEP), 6-3, 6-1.
Allen/Johnson (CR) def. Taylor/Austin (WC), 6-1, 6-0.
Brickley/Zhang (CEN) def. Chatham/Morgan (HER), 6-3, 6-3.
Morris/Mitchell (PAS) de. C. Rosser/Mulleavey (WW), 6-1, 6-0.
DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Allen/Johnson (CR), 6-3, 6-1.
Brickley/Zhang (CEN) won by default over Morris/Mitchell (PAS).
DeWitt/Schwefringhaus (NCT) def. Brickley/Zhang (CEN), 6-0, 6-0.
Yann/Ray (PAS) def. Larkin/Anderton (ZEP), 6-1, 6-0.
Collins/Middaugh (CEN) def. Rose/Kanitz (HER), 6-2, 6-3.
Pais/Willey (NCT) def. Fyock/Slay (WC), 6-0, 6-0.
Epstein/White (CR) def. H. Rosser/Hypes (HER), 6-3, 6-3.
Yann/Ray (PAS) def. Collins/Middaugh (CEN), 6-1, 6-1.
Pais/Willey (NCT) def. Epstein/White (CR), 6-3, 7-5.
Yann/Ray (PAS) def. Pais/Willey (NCT), 6-4, 6-3.