By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay’s girls tennis team may not be as a deep as last year’s group, but that didn’t stop it from cruising past Cape Coral in Tuesday’s regional semifinals.
The lady Manta Rays defeated the Seahawks 4-1, losing their only match in No. 4 singles. Lemon Bay will host Bishop Verot in Thursday’s regional final.
The boys suffered some bad luck, losing two singles matches in a tiebreaker set before ultimately falling to Cape Coral 4-2.
It’s the eighth straight regional final appearance for the girls, who took a 3-1 lead after four singles matches. As No. 1 doubles began play, No. 5 Linda Conklin made it irrelevant on the scorecard with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Yevheniya Krasynska for the clinching point in the match.
“My freshman, Linda, came through today. She just lost to that girl 6-1, 6-2 on March 21 and comes back and beats her today 6-4, 6-0. Same girl on the same courts, so go figure. As a freshman she’s coming on,” Lemon Bay girls coach Darrell Roach said.
The ladies nearly pulled off a sweep but No. 4 Chloe DiDonato lost in a tiebreaker to Ana Dieng, 6-3, 5-7 (10-3).
“It was a very well played match. It came down to a final 10-point tiebreaker set and she came out on the short end of it,” Roach said. “But then the freshman came through at No. 5 and clinched it to make the doubled meaningless.”
No. 1 Sarah Lown bounced from a loss at districts to Bayshore’s Theo Schultz and defeated Bailey Klein 6-0, 6-2. No. 2 Ashley Tormey easily beat Laura Moreno 6-1, 6-0 and No. 3 Stephanie Kvisinski outlasted Jessica Patton 7-6, 6-2 to put Lemon Bay up 3-0 early in the afternoon.
On the boys’ courts, No. 2 Liam Ryan and No. 3 Enrique Subero both lost tiebreakers by a 10-8 margin. Ryan fell to Corey Williamson 1-6, 6-3 (8-10) while Subero lost to the racket of Max Slafer 6-2, 4-6 (8-10).
That all came after No. 1 David Kappelmann struggled to put a point up against Ian Ziegler in a 0-6, 2-6 defeat. No. 4 Noah Pirro kept the Manta Rays alive with a 6-1, 3-6 (10-7) win over Tristian D’Agostino and No. 5 Tanner Stewart easily defeated Jacob Robertson 6-1, 6-1.
Lemon Bay suddenly had some hope down only 3-2, but Ziegler and Williams ended the match in No. 1 doubles with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kappelmann and Ryan.
“You can’t take it away from those guys. They all had the same chance in those tiebreakers but it’s tennis. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose,” Lemon Bay boys coach Mike Maier said. “It was a good experience really for both teams. Tight matches, and in tennis that’s all you’re looking for, a match you could win or lose so it comes down to who really plays better that day.”
The boys would have also played Bishop Verot on Thursday had they won. For the girls, it’s a rematch with Bishop Verot, which won the teams only meeting this season in a squeaker, 4-3.
That match came down to No. 2 doubles and was played on Bishop Verot’s clay courts. Roach hopes playing on Lemon Bay’s home hard courts Thursday will provide the ultimate advantage.
“They’re coming up here to our hard courts, which I prefer, and I feel good about it,” Roach said. “I feel like we match up well with them. We had some close matches that we lost to cause that loss last time and I think we’re better at a couple of positions now, especially my No. 2 doubles. My No. 2 doubles team, I think, is stronger now than it was then and that was the clinching point down there so it’ll be an interesting Thursday.
“We’re looking forward to trying to be regional champs again.”
LEMON BAY 4, CAPE CORAL 1
Singles: 1. Sarah Lown (LB) d. Bailey Klein 6-0, 6-2; 2. No. 2 Ashley Tormey (LB) d. Laura Moreno 6-1, 6-0; 3. Stephanie Kvisinski (LB) d. Jessica Patton 7-6, 6-2; 4. Ana Dieng (CC) d. No. Chloe DiDonato 6-3, 5-7 (10-3); 5. No. 5 Linda Conklin (LB) d. Yevheniya Krasynska 6-4, 6-0. Doubles: Did not play.
CAPE CORAL 4, LEMON BAY 2
Singles: 1. Ian Ziegler (CC) d. David Kappelmann 6-0, 6-2; 2. Corey Williamson (CC) d. Liam Ryan 6-1, 3-6 (10-8); 3. Max Slafer (CC) d. Enrique Subero 2-6, 6-4 (10-8); 4. Noah Pirro (LB) d. Tristian D’Agostino 6-1, 3-6, (10-7); 5. Tanner Stewart (LB) D. Jacob Robertson 6-1, 6-1. Doubles: 1. Ziegler/Williamson (CC) d. Kappelmann/Ryan 6-3, 6-1; 2. Did not play.