Celebration’s boys and girls tennis squads advanced through the district tournaments and made a little noise in the regional playoffs last year. The Storm’s boys team, along with the St. Cloud girls, claimed Orange Belt Conference titles.
Celebration, Tohopekaliga and Osceola play in 4A District 5 with Polk County foes Lakeland, George Jenkins, Haines City and Ridge Community.
Gateway and St. Cloud are in district 4A-9 against Lake Nona, Oak Ridge, Cypress Creek and Freedom.
Poinciana, Harmony and Liberty compete in 3A-7 with Deltona, East River, Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Pine Ridge.
Both Storm squads, now coached by Darren Holt, feature returning firepower and rookie talent.
Junior Angel Partidas, last year’s county boys Player of the Year, is now playing No. 3 singles with sophomore Alex Moutran and freshmen Emilion Perez, Alekxael Cruz and Carlos de Gouveia. Through the first five matches, the boys had lost just one set.
“All are USTA Level 7 players or higher,” Holt said. “The girls are solid, too, with seniors in No. 2 through 5.”
Those seniors, all returners, are Maria Fregonezi, Bea Coelho, Manuela Vasconcelos, Daniela Torres, but freshman Paola Di Damaso is playing No. 1.
The Bulldog boys team, coached again by Jason Eno, is infused with some new talent.
“We have three new players in the top five and only two players returning (senior Joshua Whiteacre at No. 2 and junior Yahir Rivera Ortiz at No. 4).”
Nos. 1, 3 and 5 are now manned by freshmen Joaquin Mendez and Braxton Ansbaugh and sophomore Joseph Perez. The two freshmen are the top doubles team.
Ferdinand Aurelio Gutierrez, Emanuel Diaz, Alex Estevez, Angello Pena and Alex Faria provide depth.
“I can see them making some noise in the district maybe not this year as freshman, but in the future, over the next few years,” Eno said.
The Bulldogs defeated Harmony to open the season.
On the girls side, coached by Jeff Bean, senior Gwen Andrews graduated and sophomore Jeanne Marie Gearity transferred at the top of the lineup.
Senior Samantha Singleton now plays No. 1, followed in the lineup by Karla Chourio, Brooke Singleton and Bailey Ansbaugh. The Singleton sisters form the No. 1 doubles team.
The Longhorns, coached by Ann Moss, return Turner Small at No. 1 and Santiago Parra at No. 3. Filling the rest of the lineup are newcomers Reece Curcio, Declan Wigand and J.P. Jacobson.
The Longhorns have beaten Liberty thus far and fallen to Osceola.
Jessica Pocaisk coaches the girls team.
Nicholas Devore and Daniel Joyner are proud that the Eagles are in their second year of filling full rosters, “an Eagles tennis rebuild” of sorts.
The boys team returns seniors Gian Olivieri, Daniel Colon, and Vere Cruz, and welcome newcomers Michael Soto, Caleb Mallia, Blake Hunt and Abdallah Fahim.
On the girls side, returners Chrystal Sawyer, Keiree Rodriguez, and Alanis Velez are all excited to build on what they learned last year. Newcomers Katie Vich, Gabriella Boyles, and Chelsea Clarke are all expected to play significant matches this year.
“The days of Poinciana forfeiting tennis matches due to participation are in the past,” Devore said. “We still have a long way to go as we elevate our level of play, but the program is in a much different place now than it was several years ago.”
In Kowboys’ Coach Reggie Beeks’ fourth season, OHS has a deeper roster, he said.
The boys side is led by fourth-year player Jacob Johnson and junior Gabriel Gonzalez.
“Jacob will definitely make some serious noise at district and could be named the OBC player of the year, and Gabriel brings a lot of excitement to every match,” Beeks said.
Newcomers Yohandri Acosta, Carlos Compos and Ryan Andrews complete the lineup.
“They are getting better every week. I'm anticipating the team to make a major run at the district tournament this season,” Beeks said.
The girls team is led by No. 1 Andrea Hippolyte and three-year starter, Paulie Correa, who will be looking to make some noise in district with Maria Gonzalez, Emma Sweet and Florelle Saauedra.
The Panthers, led by Katherine Lamarca, have sophomore Sabrina Rodriguez and junior Giovanna Capobianco leading the way for the girls at the top two singles spots and No. 1 doubles.
Juniors Hiting Liu and Erick Sosa are the top boys.
Coach Mitch St. Martin’s boys team features five new players.
“All brand-new guys and all are in their first year playing tennis. All of them played winter sports, so we didn't really get started until their soccer and basketball seasons were finished, so lots of teaching. But these guys are fun,” the coach said.
The lineup has seniors Al-Shereef Abu Zanet, Bryan Pasos, Jonathan Paredes and Patrick Edwards, and freshman Jairo Velazquez. Abu Zanet/Pasos and Paredes/Edwards are the doubles teams.
Jesus Merced leads the Tigers first tennis teams.