Connor Krug turned around, walked back to the baseline and flashed a fist pump.
Moments later, Krug ripped a winner to grab an important point during singles action in the Class 1A regionals.
Then, Krug teamed with twin brother Jake in doubles to clinch a 4-3 victory over host Saint Stephen’s on Thursday.
“It was so close,” Connor Krug said.
They’ve crushed us. I think because they’ve crushed us the last couple times, we came out more inspired and we all really dug deep in our singles.
Out-of-Door Academy’s Connor Krug
The Thunder’s victory earned them a berth into next week’s Florida High School Athletic Association state tournament.
The host Falcons beat Out-of-Door Academy during the regular season and at the district tournament. On Thursday, the difference was both teams were finally fielding healthy lineups.
“They’ve crushed us,” Connor Krug said. “I think because they’ve crushed us the last couple times, we came out more inspired and we all really dug deep in our singles.”
Dan Li, Max Damm, Harry Neal, Tianxiong Huang and Max Petrov filled Saint Stephen’s singles lineup against ODA’s Josh Samuel, Connor Krug, Josh Krug, Philip Chiritescu and Matt Jones.
Li ran off a straight-sets 6-0, 6-1 victory against Samuel. Josh Krug defeated Neal 6-2, 6-2. Petrov downed Jones 6-0, 6-0.
And the two biggest singles matches went ODA’s way with Chiritescu outlasting Huang 2-6, 6-3, 10-7 and Connor Krug edging Damm 7-6, 1-6, 12-10.
“I told the kids, ‘If we can get three singles wins, then we’ve got a good shot at it,’ ” ODA head coach Kieran Killigrew said.
Li and Damm defeated Samuel and Chiritescu 6-2, 6-1 in No. 1 doubles. Then the Krugs stopped Petrov and Neal 6-3, 6-3 in No. 2 doubles to earn the Thunder a state tournament trip.
“It was a little closer than it appears on paper,” Saint Stephen’s boys tennis head coach Scott Shields said. “They had some chances, where our guys could have taken the lead and just weren’t able to win those key points.”
Li (singles, doubles) and Damm (doubles) are still playing in next week’s state tournament by virtue of winning district titles.
“It’s a little bit of a silver lining,” Shields said. “They’ve got to move on from this, and they’ve got to get refocused and get tough for the states.”
Meanwhile, the Saint Stephen’s girls tennis team breezed to the program’s second state tournament team berth in three years.
The Falcons defeated Fort Myers Canterbury 4-0. The fifth singles match, in which Allie Serterides was up a set, was stopped once Saint Stephen’s clinched.
It will be cool as a senior to be able to lead the team, and I’m excited to see how we do.
Saint Stephen’s senior MaryAnn Rompf
No. 1 singles player MaryAnn Rompf is the Falcons’ lone senior. And she provided a trend with Saint Stephen’s girls tennis players on Thursday after defeating Emily Javedan 6-1, 6-0.
“It will be cool as a senior to be able to lead the team, and I’m excited to see how we do,” said Rompf, who is committed to Wisconsin for next season.
Eighth-grader Eva Tasdemir (6-2, 6-3), Laura Perazzolo (6-3, 6-4) and Cassy Huang (6-0, 5-0 ret.) also claimed straight-sets victories.
The dominance occurred despite missing regular No. 3 singles player Sabina Budova. She was out sick this week with an undisclosed illness.
“We just have a lot of depth,” Saint Stephen’s girls head coach Lesley Eckert said.
When: Monday-Tuesday (Class 1A, 3A); Wednesday-Thursday (Class 2A, 4A)
Where: Red Bug Lake Park, Casselberry/Sylvan Lake Park, Sanford (Class 1A-2A); Sanlando Park, Altamonte Springs (Class 3A-4A).
What: Eight teams, plus qualifying individuals. Team quarterfinals begin at 8 a.m. on first day; semifinals at 8 a.m. on second day.