When area tennis teams open district tournaments today, it will be an even playing field.
“You can ace a person one day, play the same person the next day and they can beat you,” Tate coach David Bonucchi said. “That’s how the game goes.”
The Aggies will kick the postseason off with the rest of the District 1-3A teams today at the University of West Florida.
Boasting just one senior, Bonucchi hopes his junior-filled girls squad will make a splash in the tournament, but he’s cautious about ruling out any opponents — In particular, Washington High and the Wildcats No.1 girls player, Geetha Velusamy.
“(Geetha), she’s beaten everybody,” Washington coach Michael Edge said. “I think the most games she’s ever lost is two in a match. Michael Berryman went undefeated with the boys.
“Our girls have a really good chance to go to state. The boys too, we beat everybody in our district. We didn’t even lose an individual match. Boys and girls won every match, 7-0, in our district.”
With nine schools in the district tournament, eight from the Pensacola area, most of the teams are used to seeing each other play.
“It challenges us because you have a little familiarity going on,” Bonucchi said. “Not just with the players, but with the coaches. It’s a competitive district.
“I’ve got a No. 2 doubles team that’s 10-1. I think we’re in good shape for a change, but you get in the middle of a tennis match and anything can happen.”
The Aggies will be fresh when they enter the tournament. The team hasn’t competed since prior to Spring Break, but has been prepping ceaselessly for the postseason.
“I fought really hard to get our season done before Spring Break,” Bonucchi said. “This year I got them all done before Spring Break and we’ve been (practicing hard) this last week before taking Sunday off.
“They’re not rusty, they’re hungry. There’s a difference. Hopefully anxiety and nerves don’t get in the way.”
Dolphins, Jaguars travel for tourney
Gulf Breeze and West Florida High are the only two local teams that must travel for this week’s district tournament.
The Dolphins and Jaguars open the postseason on Tuesday in Panama City at the District 1-2A tennis tournament hosted by the Edgewater Resort.
Both squads will need to stay fresh if they hope to make a splash in the event.
With a six-team district that includes Panama City Arnold, Panama City Bay, Panama City Rutherford and DeFuniak Springs Walton — Gulf Breeze and West Florida High will travel farther than any other team to compete in the tournament.
Crusaders set for postseason run
When the district tournament kicks off today at Bayview Park, host Catholic will be the school to beat after both the boys and girls squads finished the regular season 1-1A slate unbeaten as a team.
“I love our top 5,” Catholic coach Geoff Watts said. “l love our top 7 really, but our top 5 — These guys are all year-rounders. The high school tennis season, they just add it to their year.
“If you want to be a high school outfit that contends as a team for a state title, you have to those kinds of players.”
A lot of the team’s success is thanks to sophomore Chris Ephron, the No. 1 player for the boys.
“We’re fortunate to have Chris,” Watts said. “He’s not only a great player, but a great kid. Chris didn’t lose a match this year, even though he was pushed at Blue Angel and in the Mobile, Ala., tournament.”