ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — After sweeping through the opening day of the Class 3A state tournament at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs, the Barron Collier boys and girls tennis teams look poised to raise team titles today.
Each girl in Barron Collier’s lineup earned one of the top-two spots in their respective divisions, and they backed up those rankings by going unbeaten in both singles and doubles.
They hold a slim 12-10 lead over Lakewood Ranch, who they will face three times in singles championship matches and at least once more in doubles.
“It’s one thing to say you have the talent but it’s another thing to get out there and prove it on the court,” Barron Collier girls coach Nancy Geiman said. “These girls really stepped it up out there and played to their potential.”
Natalia Maynetto advanced to the No. 1 singles championship without dropping a set in her first two matches. She’ll meet up with Ashley Bongart of Lakewood Ranch before joining Shannon Etten in the second round of their doubles match against Caroline Shafer and Mary Smith of Tallahassee-Leon.
Maynetto and Etten hung on to defeat Martin County’s Melany Frehafer and Hanna Slutsky 6-4, 6-3 in what was the closest match on the day for the Cougars.
Barron Collier’s boys team, the two-time defending state champs, dropped just one match and maintains a commanding lead on the field.
While the Cougars strolled through the first round of singles play with ease, it was Paul Johnson’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Keegon Lowery of Booker T. Washington, the second-seeded player in No. 3 singles, that may have set the tone.
“The team kind of put the most pressure on Paul last night after coming out of the seeding meeting,” Cougars coach Eric Manring said. “I told him that if he wins that match, I felt like we would do really well out here.”
Johnson also teamed up with Alan Sweet for a 6-3, 6-0 win over Ryan Kealy and Julio Sanguily of Martin County in No. 2 doubles.
Overall No. 1 seed Brett Clark proved his worth by advancing to the finals against Martin County’s Michael Rinaldi. He also teamed with senior Austin Robles at No. 1 doubles as they won 6-2, 6-2 over Melbourne’s Mattias Hartmann and Jakob Mostyn.
Robles suffered the only setback for Barron Collier in the tournament as he was eliminated in the second round of No. 2 singles when he fell behind early in a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Lakewood Ranch’s Arsav Mohanty, the second seed in the bracket.
Naples High sophomore Nikki Kallenberg, celebrating her 16th birthday, opened individual tournament play as the top overall girls seed in Class 3A at Lake Brantley High School. She began her day by dismantling Fort Lauderdale’s Jaclyn Rock 6-1, 6-1 before putting away Thandiwe Kangwa of Forth Myers, 6-1, 6-2.
Kallenberg had little trouble in fending off Rock, whose powerful returns were met with pinpoint finishes for much of the way. Kallenberg then overcame Kangwa for the third time this season despite unforced errors and boiling frustration.
“I felt like I was playing solid in the first match but in the second I kind of got impatient because she sent every ball back at me,” Kallenberg said. “That’s something I really need to work on, even in other tournaments I play.”
Kallenberg moves on to face the winner of Brooke Durden of Niceville and Marie Babyan of Braden River on Thursday at Sanlando.
In Class 1A, Community School’s No. 1 doubles team of Nicole Drab and Allie Diamond lost 6-0, 6-1 to a duo from the Tallahassee-Maclay at Sylvan Lake Park in Sanford. Community School was represented at the state tournament for the first time in six years.