Bruins senior Theo Schultz wins No. 1 girls singles; Southeast freshman Aiden Little wins No. 1 boys singles

ENGLEWOOD

After winning the No. 1 girls singles district tennis title the past two seasons, Bayshore High’s Theo Schultz said she felt added pressure Tuesday.

“I was nervous because it was my senior year. It’s my last one,” she said.

Still, Schultz began strongly and finished with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Southeast High’s Jewel Henderson for her third straight Class 2A-District 11 title Tuesday at Lemon Bay High School.

“I don’t think it was tougher,” she said. “Just a little more pressure.”

While Schultz notched her third straight, Southeast freshman Aiden Little may be starting a streak of his own.

Little remained undefeated on the season after 14 matches with a hard-fought 6-4, 7-5 victory over Lemon Bay’s Enrique Subero in the boys No. 1 singles.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Little said. “No one has big expectations of you. But I had big expectations of myself. The pressure was really on.”

Little also will be headed to the state tournament at No. 1 doubles with Sebastian Suarez, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over Bayshore’s duo of Ariel Gonzalez-Pongo and Cameron Whitford.

In the girls No. 1 doubles, Southeast’s Henderson sisters, Jewel and Nancy, took down Schultz and Nicole Llorente 6-1, 4-6, 10-8 to advance to the state event.

In the girls team scoring, J.P. Gordon-led Bayshore scored 16 points to take the district title and end Lemon Bay’s run of eight straight district crowns. The Manta Rays emerged as the runners-up with 13 points.

On the boys side, the Manta Rays, under first-year coach Harry Trismen, won their second straight district title with 13 points, despite having only one district champion. Bayshore and Southeast finished tied for second with 11 points and are slated to have a dual match to determined the runner-up. However, since Bayshore did not have a full team, lacking a No. 5 singles, it will be up to the state to determine whether a playoff is needed or the Seminoles begin with a 1-0 advantage.

As a captain in her final season, Schultz took more of a leadership role, practicing with the team along with on her own and letting out shouts of “Let’s go Bayshore” intermittently during the match.

“I sensed we had a chance of being the champions for the first time,” she said.

The Bruins finished as district runners-up during her freshman and sophomore seasons and did not have enough members to field a team a year ago.

Along with playing in next week’s regionals, Schultz will return to the state tournament where she was a game away from reaching the semifinals a year ago.

“The goal is getting to the semifinals or further,” said Schultz, who will play for Eckerd College next season.

Other district champions include Southeast’s Nancy Henderson (No. 2 singles), Bayshore’s Kenia Cuqui-Bello (No. 3 singles) and Yaneidy Certantes (No. 4 singles), Lemon Bay’s Lauren Maheu (No. 5 singles) and Siena Berger and Samantha Cahill (No. 2 doubles).

Little burst onto the area tennis scene as an unknown.

Tuesday, however, he had difficulty getting his first serve in during the second set against Subero. When Little did, it gave him confidence.

“It’s an attitude booster,” he said. “It brings you up.”

Little is excited about the prospect of playing in his first state tournament, but knows the competition will be tough.

“I don’t know. That’ll be hard. That’ll be tough,” he said. “That’ll be good experience. As a freshman, I will have a lot of experience the next time I go.”

Other district champions for the boys were Southeast’s Sebastian Suarez (No. 2 singles), Avi Patel (No. 5 singles), Bayshore’s Alan Macowan (No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles with brother Nicolas) and Lemon Bay’s Matthew Hutcherson (No. 4 singles).

The district champions will be home for a 3 p.m. match April 24 in the regional semifinals, while the district runners-up will be on the road at the same time. The regional finals are 3 p.m. April 26.