Lemon Bay served as a season-ending roadblock in the Bishop Verot girls tennis team’s quest to get to state for the last six years. And this season was no different.
The Manta Rays’ depth again was too much for the Vikings to handle in a 4-1 loss in the Region 2A-6 finals Thursday at Fort Myers Racquet Club.
“It’s their (No.) 3, 4 and 5 (singles players). They’re so deep,” Verot coach Mary Gibson said. “No one is going to touch them.”
Lemon Bay coach Darrell Roach, who is in his 36th season with the Manta Rays, said earlier in the week Verot had a “big advantage” considering his team played on clay just once all season. It didn’t show as Shannen Smith and Danielle Tormey rolled to easy victories at No. 4 and 5 singles to begin the team’s run to a seventh consecutive trip to state next week at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry.
Roach’s squad will face the winner of Thursdays match between Tampa Holy Names and Tampa Robinson.
“It wouldn’t be our first choice,” Roach said of playing on clay. “We played on it once all year, we don’t practice on it. I thought we did well. We basically scored the same as we did when we played them on a hard court.”
“Verot’s a great-coached team. I expected them to come out and play hard. And they did.”
Lemon Bay had to sweat out a one-point win over Bradenton Bayshore in the District 2A-11 tournament and blanked Cape Coral in the regional semifinals.
“They came in positive. They came in hungry,” Roach said. “They knew after, districts where we came out ahead by one point, we weren’t just walking over people.”
No. 1 singles player Sara Lown scored a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Verot’s Gianna Drayer to pull the Manta Rays within one win of clinching the match. Stephanie Krisinski outlasted Verot’s Nicolette Cervone 6-4, 6-4 at No. 3 singles a few minutes later to end a Vikings season that brought a District 2A-12 title and a thrilling 4-3 regional semifinal win over Bayshore earlier this week.
“It’s been a great season,” Gibson said. “We had some difficulties through the season, but everyone’s risen above it. We were one girl down and we were able to come back and win districts. These are very mature young ladies. It’s a pleasure to be around them.”
Verot’s Yvonne Wojtas, who figures to ascend to the No. 1 singles spot next season, posted her team’s lone victory in a tiebreaker over Ashley Tormey.