There wasn’t a hint of disappointment.
In fact, Leon High’s tennis teams (girls and boys) couldn’t have been more excited at the conclusion of the Class 3A FHSAA Finals on Tuesday.
“The teams could not have celebrated any harder,” Leon coach Kevin Record said.
“They knew the significance of their accomplishments because these kids fought their brains out. They would not quit. It was pretty cool to see the kids so happy.”
Leon’s girls placed second – one point behind champion Barron Collier – while the boys placed third behind Barron Collier and Gainesville in the two-day state tourney at Salando Park in Altamonte Springs.
It marked the highest finish for the boys in 11 seasons under Record. The girls were in search of their third title in the past four years.
Leon wasn’t expected to contend for state honors in either division due to inexperience. Record, in fact, hinted that naysayers believed the Lions would have a difficult time emerging from district play.
They emerged in a big way, and nearly came away with a state title.
Leon’s Sydney Chick reached Tuesday’s title match in No. 4 singles, dropping a 6-4, 7-6 (5) decision to Medina Hamzagic of Stanton.
Chick, however, teamed with Maat Sargeant to clinch the No.2 doubles crown over Hamzagic and Sydney Clark.
Leon’s No. 1 doubles team of Caroline Shafer and Lindsey Welch fell 6-3, 6-4 in the semifinals to Stella Fedele and Marinia Stokes of Jensen Beach.
In the boys division, Leon’s Ronnie Nicholson (No. 4) and Will Stone (No. 5) each fell the championship round of singles.
Stone, who decided to play tennis just weeks before the start of the season, fell 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 to Alejandro Vargas of Barron Collier.
Stone and Brennan Abramowitz lost in No. 2 doubles in the semifinals to Cole Fiegel and Jacob Gordon of Gainesville.
“Really, from not knowing what was in store for us from that first practice to being one of the last teams playing, it’s just a heckuva accomplishment for these kids,” Record said. “It was so cool seeing everyone so pumped up.”