PUNTA GORDA — Lakewood Ranch High sophomore Ashley Bongart isn’t one to shy away from competition.
So, rather than focusing solely on tennis this spring, the Lady Mustangs’ No. 1 player decided to split her time between the tennis courts and the track.
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Although scheduling has been challenging at times, the transition to becoming a two-sport athlete appears to be paying off for Bongart.
“It’s been complicated, but I’ve been making it work,” Bongart says. “I was just looking for different things to do. I’m really competitive. I like to compete.”
On April 2, Bongart won both of her singles matches at the Class 3A-District 12 tournament, in Punta Gorda, before racing back up to Manatee High for the Manatee County Track Championships, at which she finished second in the high jump after clearing 4 feet, 10 inches.
Bogart also was scheduled to run a leg of the 4x400 relay, but decided to pull out of the race after tweaking her ankle.
Bogart, however, resumed play on the court the following day, defeating Venice’s Michaela Mignemi 6-0, 6-1 to win the No. 1 singles crown April 3. She then teamed up with Lindsey Rechcigl to capture the No. 1 doubles crown.
“It means a lot,” Bongart says of her district titles. “I like playing for the team. I play matches all of the time, so I’m used to the pressure.”
With the wins, Bongart, who captured No. 1 doubles and No. 2 singles titles last season, also helped lead the Lady Mustangs to a district runner-up finish. Lakewood scored 15 points to finish second behind Venice (19 points). Lakewood advanced to the finals in four of the five singles matches and both doubles matches.
“It’s exciting,” Rechcigl says. “It’s exciting to be able to go to states (for doubles), but it would be better to go as a team. We have three seniors, so it would be really exciting for all of us. Hopefully, we can pull through and make it to states again.”
As the district runner-up, Lakewood traveled to Seminole Osceola for the first round of the Region 3 tournament April 9. Results were unavailable as of press time Tuesday.
Be sure to check YourObserver.com or the Jen Blanco (Observer) Facebook page or follow us on Twitter at @Jen_Observer to see how the Lady Mustangs fared.
The winner of the first-round matches will play the winner of the other first-round match between Venice and Northeast April 11.
“We have a pathway to beat them,” coach Ed Bongart says of facing Venice again. “We just have to execute.”
Contact Jen Blanco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ Lady Thunder win second-consecutive title
Following its perfect regular season, The Out-of-Door Academy girls tennis team captured its second-consecutive Class 1A-District 9 title April 1 and April 2.
Led by three-time state champion Caroline Dailey, the Lady Thunder won four of the final singles matches and both doubles matches to finish ahead of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. Dailey defeated Bradenton Christian’s Haley Waldo to capture her fourth No. 1 singles district title.
Maria Ross (No. 2), M’Balia Bangoura (No. 3) and Alana Sherman (No. 4) also all won district tittles. Savannah Sleight (No. 5) finished as the district runner-up.
Dailey and Bangoura later teamed up to capture the No. 1 doubles crown; Ross and Sherman won the No. 2 doubles crown.
“The girls were excited about how they performed over the two-day tournament, and I am incredibly proud of them — not only because they played beautifully, but also because they continue to be so supportive of each other,” coach Noel Dougherty says. “There is depth of talent on this team and depth of friendship and camaraderie.”
As the district champion, ODA played host to Fort Myers Canterbury in the first round of the Region 3 tournament April 9. Results were unavailable as of press time Tuesday. Be sure to check YourObserver.com or the Jen Blanco (Observer) Facebook page or follow us on Twitter at @Jen_Observer to see how the Lady Mustangs fared.
The winner of the first-round matches will play the winner of the other first-round match between St. Stephen’s and Community School of Naples April 11.
+ Pirate advances to singles final
Braden River High sophomore Stan Grzeslo finished as the No. 1 singles district runner-up at the Class 3A-District 12 tournament April 2 and 3, at Charlotte High.
Grzeslo, who was the lone Pirate to advance to the finals, fell to Sarasota’s Andre Johnson 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.
“He’s one of those kids that you’ve got to love,” coach Susan Busby says of Grzeslo. “He led the team last year and this year, and he’s really stepped up this tournament. He’s a good team leader.”
Grzeslo and Jacob Erickson advanced to the No. 1 doubles semifinals while Juan Ojeda and Colin Thomsen advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 doubles.
“They all played well and showed good sportsmanship,” Busby says. “(District champion) Venice and (runner-up) Sarasota — they’re just really deep and good.”
Lakewood Ranch’s Leo Murri and Jacques Swanepool also advanced to the semifinals at No. 2 doubles.