Saint Stephen's boys tennis team finds itself within striking distance of winning a state championship.
The Falcons tallied eight points Monday, the first day of the Class 1A state tournament at Red Bug Lake Park in Caselberry, and are a point behind first-place Weston Sagemont (nine) and a point up on third-place Winter Haven All Saints (seven).
Bernardo Sanson (No.1), William De Quant (No.2) and Brian Berdusco (No.5) all made the finals in singles play today, with all three winning both matches in straight sets.
"All three of them are playing great tennis," said Falcons coach James Flanigan.
De Quant scored one of the more impressive victories of the day when he defeated Miami Everglades' Josh Dughi in straight sets during the semifinals. Dughi was the tournament's top-seeded No.2 singles player while De Quant was unseeded.
"He was surprised and I was surprised about that," Flanigan said of DeQuant not earning one of the top two seed. "But he went out and proved he's a high-quality player."
Sanson and Berducso each face opponents from Sagemont - Sanson meets Jake Albo, a senior who led the Lions to their first state tennis title two years ago; Berdusco will play sophomore Austin Debruyne.
De Quant faces off against All Saints' Thomas Hughes.
Team singles play begins 8 a.m. today.
The Falcons are alive in doubles play, too, as Sanson and De Quant reached the semifinals of No.1 doubles, where they will face All Saints' team of Hughes and Devon Pate.
Berdusco teamed with Zach Bessette to reach the finals at No.2 doubles, as well.
The team doubles portion of play resumes today when the singles finals are complete.
Saint Stephen's boys have won three state tennis team titles, with the last one coming in 2004.
"The guys we have left are playing really great tennis," said Flanigan, the Falcons' first-year head coach. "Everyone's real fired up for (today)."
The Out-of-Door Academy girls sit in third place after the first day of the Class 1A state meet at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the Thunder are mathematically eliminated from winning the program's first-ever state title after trailing leader Delray Beach American Heritage by five points.
ODA senior Caroline Dailey, who won three consecutive individual singles titles before taking last year off to focus on the junior circuit, earned a quarterfinal victory in the No. 1 singles portion of the tournament.
Then disaster struck for Dailey as she had to retire in the first set of her semifinal against Sara Swift for undisclosed reasons.
Dailey, who won her opening match without dropping a game, trailed 4-3 before she exited.
She also did not participate in the No. 1 doubles bracket with teammate Maria Ross, who is the only player remaining in the five singles brackets when play resumes Tuesday for the Thunder.
Ross defeated Lindsey Mendleson 6-2, 6-2 and Kiah Turner 7-5, 6-4 on Monday to book a spot in the finals of the No. 2 singles bracket against Mia Horvit.
Alana Sherman (No. 3) and Savannah Sleight (No. 4) also lost their first-round singles matches for ODA.
Cheyenne Kerekes defeated Katie Chastain 6-0, 6-4 before dropping a 7-5, 6-0 decision to Vivien Fernandez in the semifinals of the No. 5 singles bracket.
Without Dailey, ODA turned to Chloe Ruppert to fill the void and team with Ross. However, the pair fell 6-0, 7-5 to Allegra Hanlon and Mendelson.
But ODA still has a team left in No. 2 doubles. Sherman and Morgan Woods advanced to the semifinals following a 6-3, 7-5 triumph over Lola Fadula and Alisa Klinsport.
Play is scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Tuesday with the team singles finals followed by the team doubles semifinals and finals.