Northeast Florida aces fly high

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A year after the coronavirus pandemic abruptly interrupted the 2020 high school tennis season, players in the Jacksonville area have shown they haven’t missed a step.

A state championship and several deeper playoffs have highlighted Northeast Florida’s season on the court, as the Times-Union deploys its annual All-First Coast team in boys and girls tennis in 2021 .

Chase Healey didn’t just pick up where he left off last spring – he achieved a state title.

The Christ’s Church sophomore, who made his first state appearance as an eighth-grader in 2019, reached a milestone with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Justin Lyons of Pensacola Catholic to win the Class 1A boys’ general singles final.

Healey’s title was the first on the field for Christ’s Church, and the first individual tennis championship in singles for a player at an in-bounds school in Jacksonville since Matt Schimmel in Bolles in 2005.

The men’s team of Ponte Vedra, for its part, drew its tennis inspiration from a legend.

Motivated by their connection to 1950s American legend Tony Trabert, who died in February at the age of 90, the Young Sharks fought through the regional and in the Class 3A tournament.

Juniors Andrew Kelley and Adam Logan led Ponte Vedra to the quarter-finals before their loss to Doral Academy.

In Class 2A, Bolles combined a solid No.1 singles ace in Joe Hajj with excellent depth behind, highlighted by Zach Yu at No.2 in singles, for a regional championship and a place in the round of 16 of the state.

Episcopal also won another regional title in boys, led from first place in singles by senior Justin Bobo. The Eagles lost their Class 1A quarterfinal to Ransom Everglades.

Andrew Ferris of Creekside won a district singles title in Class 4A to advance to the State Tournament as an individual, and in the heart of Jacksonville, Chace Caven and Blake Caven of Stanton combined to come together. qualify for the class 2A doubles semi-final.

Bolles ‘girls’ side, meanwhile, slashed the schedule like a scroll saw, ending the regular season and regional not only undefeated, but with just a handful of sets abandoned all season.

Bishop's Izzy Blanton prepares to serve in an FHSAA District Women's tennis match on April 12.

Meagan Donovan in No.1 singles and Abby Radel in No.2 singles paved the way for the Bulldogs, whose Class 2A race ended in neighborhoods across the state against Gulliver Prep.

Donovan, who signed with Washington & Lee, did not give up a regular season game.

The girls from Ponte Vedra, with Ellie Stamatogiannakis and Anna Handley in the top two positions, won a regional championship en route to the state tournament, where they lost to eventual champion Doral Academy.

Creekside also made the state playoffs in Class 4A, a talented squad punctuated by Caroline Warner in No.1 singles, while in Class 1A, an episcopal formation renowned for its poise and depth from top to bottom. down repeated as regional champion.

At the Gateway conference, two of the girls’ best performances came from opposite ends of the experience spectrum: Mika Matteo concluded his sandalwood career with a strong senior season for the Saints, while Jackson rookie Kyla Proctor made an explosive finish with an individual district title. and a race to Class 1A quarters.

In Nassau County, Kaylee Stacy of Fernandina Beach won the district singles and doubles titles en route to the state tournament.

The overall winners will be announced on June 28 at the Greater Jacksonville High School Sports Awards, an online celebration of the year’s outstanding athletic achievement. The awards include many sports celebrities, from Shaquille O’Neal and Alex Morgan to Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, recognizing all of Northeast Florida’s best from court to field to track.


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