Three girls teams, one boys team vie for state tennis tournament appearances this week

jdill@bradenton.comApril 8, 2014 

Staff Photographer

Saint Stephen's Nicole Johnston serves to Bradenton Christian's Bella Blevio during a girls Class 1A-District 9 tennis tournament at the Out-of-Door Academy in Lakewood Ranch on Monday, March 31, 2014. PAUL VIDELA/Bradenton Herald

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

MANATEE -- Last week's district tennis tournaments trimmed down the dream of hoisting a team state championship for many area hopefuls.

Only one public school has a program that advanced to Tuesday's region semifinal.

That school is Bayshore, where the Bruins have undergone a revival in athletics in the last year -- at least on the girls side.

The Bayshore girls earned a district championship in volleyball last fall, won the Smoothie King Classic basketball tournament during the winter and spent last spring booking a softball region final appearance.

While the softball program is having a solid season again, it's the tennis program that won the district title last week and is seeking a state tournament berth.

The Bruins will need to get past Lake Wales in Tuesday's Class 2A-Region 5 semifinal, before the chance at a state tournament can happen.

Lake Wales was the runner-up out of District 9 and won eight matches this year.

The Highlanders possess three seniors: Alexee Matabeek, Katherine Dudamel and Monika Carrillo. That's a contrast to Bayshore, who has one just one senior (Haley Donahue) and a slew of underclassmen led by sophomore Savannah Gray (No. 1 singles position).

Meanwhile, one class lower is where you'll find the remaining schools with a chance of getting to the state tournament.

The Saint Stephen's girls and boys both captured district titles last week at Out-of-Door Academy in Class 1A.

The Falcons square off against Community School of Naples on the girls side, while the boys host Naples Seacrest Country Day.

Both were district runner-ups, with Seacrest falling short of CSN in the boys and CSN coming within one point of taking the district title on the girls side. Instead, they came up just shy of Fort Myers Canterbury, which will host ODA in Tuesday's 1A-Region 5 semifinal.

The winner of that match will meet the winner of Saint Stephen's-CSN match in Thursday's regional final.

With the quality possessed between the Falcons and Thunder, there's a good chance the two squads could meet Thursday with the state tourney appearance on the line.

And the Falcons boys are the only local boys side to have a shot at team glory when they meet Seacrest on Tuesday.

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