By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
ENGLEWOOD – For nearly a decade, nobody has been able to approach the excellence the Lemon Bay High School boys and girls tennis teams have achieved.
That excellence continued Tuesday at the District 2A-11 tennis tournament at Lemon Bay High School as the Manta Rays easily took the boys and girls championships for the eighth straight year. The boys (21 points) topped Southeast (15), which also earned a regional berth as a runner-up, and the girls scored 21 points to beat out Southeast and Lake Placid, which tied for second with eight points.
Those two teams will have a pro-set playoff Thursday at 11 a.m. at Hardee High School.
Lemon Bay will host the regional semifinals Tuesday against Cape Coral, and if it wins it will also host the regional finals two days later, likely against Bishop Verot.
The Manta Rays won nine of the 10 singles championships up for grabs and all four doubles, losing only in No. 1 girls, where Bayshore’s Theo Schultz defeated Sarah Lown 6-0, 6-4.
Ashley Tormey defeated Southeast’s Daria Muklewicz in No. 2 singles 6-2, 6-1, Stephanie Krisinski downed Ivelina Kioutchoukova, also of Southeast, in No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-2, and Linda Conklin beat Robin Shattler of Lake Placid 7-5, 6-1 in No. 5 singles.
Only Chloe DiDonato had to go to a third set in No. 4 singles, losing the second set before hanging on for a 6-1, 3-6 (10-4) win over Southeast’s Ruby Halfacre.
“It was nice to bring home a win. It’s fun to play with these people throughout the year. They’re great friends,” Krisinski said. “It will be nice playing on hard courts.”
For girls coach Darrell Roach, it was somewhat bittersweet. His top three girls are graduating, and while in the past he was able to reload, this time it feels different.
“This may be our last one for a while. Sarah, Ashley and Stephanie are all leaving and that’s going to be a big hole next year,” Roach said. “I don’t see us reloading, although something special can happen and we’ve reloaded in the past.”
The boys weren’t nearly as dramatic as the Manta Rays cruised in straight sets against their Southeast opponents. No. 1 David Kappleman beat Sebastian Suarez 6-0, 6-4, No. 2 Liam Ryan downed Tyler Teaford 6-2, 6-3, No. 3 Enrique Subero double-bagelled Ben Connors, No. 4 Noatt Pirro took out Jonah Sinclair 7-5, 6-2, and No. 5 Tanner Stewart defeated Alex Kunar 6-0, 6-1.
Lown got some revenge in doubles as she and Krisinski beat Schultz and Nicole Llorente of Bayshore in No. 1 doubles 6-2, 6-2. Tormey and DiDonato defeated Abigail Campbell and Aspen Rowe of Lake Placid in No. 2 doubles 6-4, 6-2.
In boys doubles, No. 1 team Kappelmann and Ryan beat Suarez and Teaford 6-4, 6-4, and Subero and Pirro took down Connors and Sinclair 6-2, 6-3 in the No. 2 final.
“I’ve worked really hard this season and as the top seed I came in with high hopes. Things turned out well,” Kappelmann said. “Cape Coral is real good and Bishop Verot is even better, but we have a chance not being on the clay.”