Prep tennis | Saint Stephen's boys and girls sweep way to region final

jdill@bradenton.comApril 10, 2014 

BRADENTON -- Saint Stephen's tennis program picked up where it left off at last week's district tennis tournament during Wednesday's Class 1A-Region 5 semifinal.

The Falcons continued their push toward a state tournament appearance by dusting off two Naples teams in a region semifinal at the Moore Athletic Complex at Turner Fields.

Saint Stephen's defeated Naples Seacrest Country Day 7-0 in the boys match, while the Falcons' girls dispatched Community School of Naples 5-0.

No doubles matches were played in the girls division.

Both teams return to action Thursday. The Saint Stephen's girls will host Out-of-Door Academy, and the boys will host St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep. Both matches are at 3 p.m.

On the girls side, the Falcons were without No. 1 singles player Nicole Johnston, who was out of town.

So the rest of the lineup was shuffled and players moved up one spot. It didn't seem to matter as Elena Sava, Danning Feng, Liyin Xu, Claudia Usubillaga and Pho Cho each earned straight-set victories.

"We have a very deep lineup," Saint Stephen's girls coach Lesley Eckert said. "I'm proud of them when they are able to step up and do what's asked of them, which is win for us no matter what position they play. All season we've kind of played everyone up and down, depending on who was available. It's nothing new to them to have to play up a little bit. So I think that's helped us in the long run."

The key was Feng's match at No. 2 singles against CSN's Julia Covelli.

Feng won a close first set 6-4 before breezing through the second set 6-1.

"She was able to make some adjustments to what she was doing and finish strong," Eckert said. "She's been a fighter all season for us wherever she's played."

On the boys side, Saint Stephen's had little trouble with Seacrest as Zach Bessette, Brian Berdusco, Russell Berdusco and Graham Conron earned straight-set victories to seal the Falcons' passage to the next round.

Jean-Pierre Descheneaux and the two doubles teams won a single pro set to eight to wrap up Wednesday's action.

The two squads were originally scheduled to play Tuesday, but inclement weather postponed the match.

Now the boys will turn their attention to Thursday's region final. The Falcons won the region in 2013, but lost three starters off that team. Each of those players -- Bernardo Sanson, William De Quant and Peter Moore -- plays tennis at the college level now.

Bessette, Brian Berdusco and Descheneaux returned to form a solid nucleus that has Saint Stephen's on the verge of another state trip.

"That's all the hard work that those seniors did last year and that's speaking through Zach and Brian and J.P, because Russell and Graham are brand new to the team," Falcons boys coach James Flanigan said. "So those guys took the momentum from last year and took what the seniors taught them and have applied it this year. That's just the team building on itself. I can hardly take credit for that."

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service