East Polk Tennis Championships: All Saints Boys, Haven Girls Win
Wed. March 20, 2013 at 12:53 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
Lake Region's Shannon Griffin took home the East Polk County title at No. 1 singles over Winter Haven's Hayley Lockwood. (Photo by BILL KEMP | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP)
By BILL KEMP | LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | It was so close this year the score sheets were added twice just to make sure.
All Saints' Academy won the East Polk County boys tennis championship Tuesday but Winter Haven was right in contention until the last doubles match was finished.
The Saints nipped the Blue Devils 18-16 after sweeping the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles matches to secure its fourth-consecutive East Polk title at the Winter Haven City Courts.
"Winter Haven proved a lot this year," All Saints head coach David Veliz said. "Their 3s and 4s were just so much better this year."
The Saints' Tyler Pate won his fourth-consecutive East Polk boys No. 1 singles title after blanking Winter Haven's Blake Dantzler in straight sets.
The All Saints' junior will face George Jenkins' Gavin White for the county singles championship today at Beerman Tennis Complex in Lakeland.
"I just have to play my game and play smart and not hit very many unforced errors," said Pate, who finished as county runner-up to Lakeland's Danny Mack the past three years.
Pate said his game has been on an upswing since his mother stashed his tennis trophies away more than a year ago after he experienced a short slump.
"I just came home one day and they weren't there," Pate said. "I went along with it. It was kind of a refocusing,
"It did help me psychologically because I went out and won my next tournament after that. It was kind of a fresh start."
The Winter Haven girls won the East Polk team championship edging out defending champion All Saints' 17-15.
Lake Region's Shannon Griffin won the No. 1 singles title, besting Winter Haven's Hayley Lockwood 6-2, 6-0.
"I had to go back to the game when I beat her the first time we played and figure out what I did differently that game," Griffin said.
The two players had split a pair of meetings earlier in the season.
"She moved me (right to left) really well and I tried to do the same but it wasn't working as well today," said Lockwood, whose doubles victory with teammate Ali Mann over All Saints' tandem of Meredith Mancini and Bridgita Truitt secured the Blue Devils' championship.
Griffin will face George Jenkins' sophomore Taylor Oliver today for the No. 1 singles title in a matchup of left-handed players.
Oliver won the singles county championship last year as a freshman at All Saints and beat Griffin 6-1, 6-1 in a previous meeting this year.
"I think it would be interesting to play her again because it will be two left-handed people," Griffin said. "I usually don't play left-handers so it will be fun. I'm looking forward to it."