It took an unlikely set of circumstances for the Lakewood Ranch boys’ tennis team to qualify for the state tournament.
The Mustangs owe their success to two sets twins that were born one day apart in different parts of the country. Somehow they managed to get together and are creating a bit of magic.
The foursome combined their talents to take the Mustangs to Monday‘s Class 3A state tournament in Altamonte Springs.
After Monday’s first round action, Lakewood Ranch was in third place with five points and guaranteed to finish no worse than a tied for third.
The Mustangs can’t catch the leaders, Naples Barron Collier and Pensasola Washington, who are tied for first with 10 points. Hillsborough and Miami Belen are right behind Lakewood Ranch with four points each.
Three of the Lakewood Ranch boys won opening round singles matches and all are alive for the doubles semifinal round, which picks up again today.
In Monday’s first round action, Arnav and the two Strong brothers won opening round matches before they were eliminated in the semifinal.
Arsav and Arnav won their opening No. 1 doubles match over William Davenport and Ryan from Stuart-Martin County 6-2, 6-2 and at No. 2 doubles the Strong brothers defeated Raul Cruz and Alberto Perez from Miami Belen 6-4, 0-6, 6-2.
Playing in the tough No. 1 singles, Asav lost to Brett Clark (Naples Barron Collier) 2-6, 1-6. Arnav defeated Spencer Ong of Wesley Chapel Wiregrass Ranch 6-2, 6-0 and then lost to Brian Kowalski of Hillsborough High 3-6, 4-6.
Robert Strong topped Jose Lirido from Miami Belen at No. 3 singles 6-1, 6-4 and lost to Pensacola Washington’s John Nowak 3-6, 2-6. At No. 4 singles, Christian Strong topped Zachary Kramer from Stuart Martin County 6-0, 6-1 and was eliminated by Barron Collier’s Jose Vargas 2-6, 2-6.
In a No. 5 singles match, Lakewood Ranch’s Drew Christianson lost to Dan Helfrich of Wiregrass Ranch 3-6, 3-6.
“I was disappointed in my singles play. I just didn’t play well,” Arnav said. “It was hot and I don’t know if I was tired, but I just didn’t come out strong. I am happy with how things went in the doubles. We were serving real well and took control of the match.”
Arsav was also disappointed in his singles match, though he was facing one of the top players in the state in Clark.
“I played pretty bad in that match. I could’ve hit better. The double really went well and its real important for us to win the doubles,” Arsav said.
Robert and Christian strong were born on Aug. 28, 1994, in Denver and on the next day Arsav and Arnav Mohanty were born in New Jersey.
The Mohanty twins spent their first nine years in New Jersey and then returned with their family to the parents’ native country of India when the boys were nine. They came back to the USA three years later settling in Bradenton because they saw it as the tennis capital of the world.
The Strongs didn’t get to play tennis because they lived on a ship traveling the world’s waterways for five years until they decided to drop anchor and settle in a small island off Venezuela when they were about 13 years old.
They also were drawn to Manatee County because of its tennis reputation.
All four are home-school students. The Mohantys are students at the Florida Virtual School and the Strongs get their education through a virtual school in Minneapolis. Both reside in the Lakewood Ranch school district.