MANATEE -- With a young team that lacks experience and tradition, Southeast head boys tennis coach Howard Eberly didn't expect to be playing next week.
But he had a hunch something special might happen.
His intuition proved cor
rect when the Seminoles finished runner in the Class 2A-District 11 tournament Tuesday at State College of Florida to advance to the region tournament for the first time in 11 years.
The Seminoles finished with 11 points behind first-place Englewood Lemon Bay (19). Booker was third (9) followed by Cape Coral Mariner (5), Fort Myers Dunbar (4), Arcadia DeSoto (2) and Lehigh Acres Lehigh (1).
The Seminoles helped their cause by placing three players in the singles finals, and their No. 2 doubles team of freshmen Konrad Strzalowski and Jake Mattraw made it to the final, where it lost 6-2, 6-0 to Lemon Bay.
The Southeast duo defeated DeSoto's Derrick Holliman and Jose lara-Flores 6-0, 7-6 in a semifinal match.
Playing his first year of tennis, sophomore Ryan Eberly lost in the No. 2 singles final 6-1, 6-1 to Lemon Bay's Brian Kappelman. Strzalowski lost at No. 3 singles 6-3, 6-4 to Lemon Bay's Owen Berry, and senior Stephan Henry lost 6-0, 6-4 to Lemon Bay's Yuki Fujii.
"I am not totally surprised at what happened. The team showed a lot of improvement as we went on, and we won our last three matches of the season," Howard Eberly said. "Stephan surprised me the most because he has struggled part of the year. Konrad has been doing well. He started the season at number five and worked his way to number three. This is Ryan's first year of playing, and he is starting to come around."
The Southeast boys will be on the road April 9 for a region match against either Naples Lely or Fort Myers Bishop Verot.
Katie Yetzer and Haley Williams, the Seminoles' No. 2 doubles team, were the only Southeast girls in action. They lost in straight sets to Lemon Bay's Madison Casad and Andrea Vorlicek.
Lemon Bay dominated the girls' action with a perfect score of 21. Mariner was runner-up with 13 points, followed by Lehigh (6), Booker (5), Southeast (2), Dunbar (2) and DeSoto (0).
Class 4A-District 8
The Manatee High girls fell short of securing the runner-up spot when its two doubles teams lost semifinal matches in the tournament at King Middle School.
The Hurricanes' No. 1 doubles team of Carolina Montes and Katelinn Wurm lost 6-4, 6-4 to Seminole's Alex Jones and Cailyn Madsen. In No. 2 doubles, Manatee's Chloe Conboy and Jourdan McKinnis lost 6-2, 6-1 to Amanda Mitchell and Haley Ronis.
McKinnis lost in the No. 5 singles final to Emory Conetta 6-1, 6-0.
"Our girls fought valiantly, but unfortunately Seminole was just a little bit better than us," Manatee head coach Brian McAllister said. "I thought we started playing better (towards end of season), but unfortunately ran into the Riverview buzzsaw. Overall, I was very happy with the year. We had a little bit more of an opportunity to advance this year."
Riverview dominated the girls action with 21 points. Seminole was second (10), followed by St. Petersburg (6), Manatee (4) and North Port.
Riverview won the boys competition with 20 points. St. Petersburg was second with 13 points and Manatee third (6), followed by Seminole (3) and North Port (0).