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All-Area First Team

Danagrace Buck

Stella Fedele

Jennifer Gosney

Nila Illuzzi

Gabriela Portmann

Jordan Rucks

Hanna Slutsky

Coach of the Year

MONICA POOL Jensen Beach, fifth year This season: Pool guided the Falcons to a historic season. Jensen Beach (17-0) won its first district championship, sweeping to the District 15-3A title to unseat perennial champ and rival Martin County. The Falcons went on to win their first regional championship and qualify for their first state tournament. Jensen Beach placed fourth in a tightlycontested field, finishing just three points out of first. The Falcons were 15-0 in the regular season. Quotable: “We’ve always worked on the focus of team, as I’ve emphasized before, and worked with developing the program. Seeing the potential the kids had and seeing them come together and work together for that same goal, and then watching the girls accomplish that and making it to states, was a wonderful experience.”

Marnie Stokes

DANAGRACE BUCK St. Edward’s senior Notable: Buck finished with a 9-4 record at No. 2 singles. Buck won the District 12-1A title and both her regional matches. Buck stretched her opponent to three sets before losing in the opening round of the state tournament.

First Team continued MARNIE STOKES Jensen Beach junior Notable: Stokes was 17-1 at No. 2 singles and 14-1 at No. 1 doubles, breezing through the regular season unbeaten and then winning her flight at the District 15-3A tournament and teaming to win the doubles district championship. Both her losses came in the state finals.

STELLA FEDELE Jensen Beach sophomore Notable: Fedele had 11-3 No. 1 singles record, winning the District 15-3A championship, and was part of No. 1 doubles team that won district. Fedele lost in opening-round state singles, but advanced to the doubles championship match. JENNIFER GOSNEY Lincoln Park freshman Notable: Gosney stepped in at No. 1 this season, going 7-4. All four of her losses were to high-caliber opponents including Erica Susi and Stella Fedele. NILA ILLUZZI Fort Pierce Central freshman Notable: Illuzzi compiled a 12-2 at No. 1 singles in her first season, advancing to the District 9-4A finals against Erica Susi. Her only other loss was in regular-season match to LPA’s Jennifer Gosney. GABRIELA PORTMANN Vero Beach junior Notable: Portmann finished 13-1 at No. 2 singles — only loss in regional championship match. She won the No. 2 singles title in the District 9-4A and teamed with Erica Susi to win the No. 1 doubles title. Portmann/Susi won their opening state match in doubles and lost in the quarterfinals. JORDAN RUCKS Jensen Beach senior Notable: Rucks in the only area girl to finish the season unbeaten in singles play. She went 16-0, winning the No. 3 flight at the District 15-3A tournament, both her regional matches and then sweeping to the win in her flight at the Class 3A state tournament. Rucks also played No. 2 doubles, posting a 14-1 record. HANNA SLUTSKY Martin County senior Notable: Slutsky quit her USTA training to focus on her senior year, running team practices, sitting out matches when asked and posted a 6-6 mark at No. 1 singles. She was the District 15-3A runner-up, falling in the championship match to Stella Fedele. All of Slutsky’s losses were against top competition.


Vero Beach High School’s Erica Susi (left) and St. Edward’s School’s Sara Swift (right) and are the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers 2013 Girls Tennis All-Area Co-Players of the Year.

KATELYN AFSHAR Pine School junior

‘I think we both deserve it’

KATRINA BEGAZZO Vero Beach sophomore

■■Swift, Susi the brightest of Treasure Coast’s prep tennis stars By Aimee Ford Foster

AINSLEY BRADSHAW Vero Beach freshman

Tennis Players of the Year

Special to Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers

St. Edward’s junior Sara Swift started her season strong when she knocked off Vero Beach High School sophomore Erica Susi 6-3, 6-4 in the season-opening match for both players. Six weeks later, Susi returned the favor by taking a 5-7, 6-1 (10-5) win over her Indian River County rival in the regular-season finale for both. Neither player lost again in the regular season. Both went on to win district titles — and, in fact, didn’t lose again until the state tournament. For their performances on the court, and for being virtually equal there, Swift and Susi have been named the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers Girls Tennis Co-Players of the Year. “Of course, it’s a little disappointing to lose any match … we kind of push each other to become better,” Swift said. “Playing was fun. She won one and I won one. It’s fair. I’m glad we get to share the award. I think we both deserve it.” Swift, the reigning Player of the Year, capped her year with a great run through the postseason, advancing to the Class 1A state championship match in No. 1 singles after winning district and regional titles. “Probably the semifinal match at state (was my highlight),” Swift said. “I was playing the No 1, just because she is much older than me and a lot bigger than me and is actually a WTA ranked player so she’s technically on the Tour. I was playing so well and winning. Being able to compete and have the opportunity elevates my game. “That fact that I was doing so well



Vero Beach sophomore Notable: Susi lost just once in the regular season and then won the District 9-4A No. 1 singles championship and was part of the winning No. 1 doubles teams. Susi won both her individual matches in Vero Beach’s two regional matches. Although the team did not advance to state, she did. Susi lost in the first round of the individual singles tournament, but picked up a win in the first round of doubles play with partner Gabriela Portmann. Susi went 13-2 in singles plays and 11-2 in doubles. Coach Billy Almeyda: “Her confidence through the year kept rising and rising. Her mentality was to go out and try to win every single game and every single point. That’s a rare thing to have. Usually you have a player lose a point and be like ‘OK.’ But it would make her hungry and play for every point.”

St. Edward’s junior

(when the opponent withdrew for injury) made me happy with the way I was playing. If I continue to work, great things will come in the future.” Susi also won district and regional titles on the way to her first state tournament appearance in Class 4A. She missed much of her freshman year with a shoulder injury. “The match that stands out the most is the win against Megan Horn (from Boca Raton, regional finals) because she is a really tough competitor and works really hard and the last time I played her, I lost,” Susi

JULIETTE AFSHAR Pine School eighth-grader

ALEXANDRA DAVIS Fort Pierce Central freshman ARI DESMAN Martin County sophomore

Notable: Swift won the District 12-1A title and both her regional matches in No. 1 singles to lead St. Edward’s to the state tournament. She was even better there, advancing to the state championship match — knocking off the reigning champion and this year’s No. 1 seed on her way to the finals. Swift finished the year with an 11-2 record in singles play.

SAMANTHA ELS Pine School eighth-grader LOLA FADULU St. Edward’s senior CHLOE HARDIN Jensen Beach junior EMILY JACKSON John Carroll junior

Coach Jim Buck: “Watching her play at the state tournament, when she was playing well, she hits the ball with relentless power. She hits such a hard, flat heavy ball that at times she just is beating up on her opponents. It’s very tough for her opponents to get into the groove and play with her. It’s a lot of fun to watch.”

ALISA KLINSPORT St. Edward’s senior LAUREN MAUNUS South Fork sophomore STEPHANIE POMPA Martin County sophomore

said. “It was just great to see that I could come out on top.” Vero Beach coach Billy Almeyda said Susi stood out as the team leader and always supported her teammates. “It was a conscious thing at the beginning of the year,” Susi said. “I wanted them to win and thought, ‘How can I encourage them?’ Then it became subconscious. I’d play a big point and win it and get so excited I wanted to share it with my teammates. “If they were in the middle of a point I’d say, ‘Let’s go.’ My win wouldn’t mean anything without theirs.”

PATRICIA PORTMANN Vero Beach sophomore JEN REMPIS Jensen Beach senior RACHEL SMITH St. Edward’s senior ANJA TOBIN Martin County freshman OLIVIA WALLMAN Lincoln Park eighth-grader EMILY WALUKIEWICZ Fort Pierce Central sophomore

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