Tennis

Meet the 2021 Gainesville Sun Girls Tennis All-Area Teams

Meet the 2021 Gainesville Sun Girls Tennis All-Area Teams

Buchholz High Cade Cricchio became hooked on tennis when she first grabbed a tennis racket at four years old.

“I was playing in the neighborhood with my sister (Kensie),” Cricchio recalled. “Tennis was the only sport I liked, so my parents put me in it. I had to practice for an hour every day and they told me to stick with it.”

Little did they know the impact of letting their daughter play then would have 13 years later.

All those hours of training with her sister paid off, as Cricchio capped off her junior year by being named the Gainesville Sun Girls Tennis Player of the Year. It’s the fifth consecutive year a Buchholz player has won the award.

The close bond she has with Kensie, now a freshman on the Brigham Young University tennis team, kept her in the sport. Kensie was a first team All-Area selection herself as well after going 23-1 her junior year at Buchholz in 2019,

“Around age 10-12, my friends were playing volleyball, gymnastics and dancing,” Cricchio said. “I didn’t ever think about quitting tennis, but it did make me wonder at times if I was missing out.

As she grew older it was the bond with Kensie that kept her in it and going.

“We facetime each other while she is in Utah, If I’m having a hard day she keeps me going and helps me get through it, ‘it will get better and remember you’re playing for not only yourself but your team as well, stick with it, it will get better.’

So of course the first person she called after her parents, coaches and teammates congratulated her after winning the state title, was her best friend and sister.

“My phone was blowing up, she was so ecstatic and asked me to send her pics, she told me she saw my first match and couldn’t believe I was able to pull it out, she’s my biggest supporter, of course next to my parents.”

To get out of the first round at state, she had to survive a 3-6, 6-2, 13-11 tiebreaker to advance out of the quarterfinals.

“I had played two previous sets before that, our match lasted two hours, but I knew I had to pull It out,” Cricchio said. “I wasn’t really nervous except the first match, it was really close but I knew If I could win that match I had a shot to go far.”

Standing in her way of a state title was an opponent she had just played recently.

“I played her a month before in a tournament and lost really bad against her, my coach kept telling me don’t let her get to me, he kept pumping me up,” Cricchio said.

Her endurance was put to the test while at state in Seminole County, as Cricchio played singles and doubles matches throughout her stay.

“I played two doubles matches after winning my long tiebreaker singles match, it was tough but I was able to get 45 minutes in between to rest,” Cricchio explained.

It wasn’t always easy for Cricchio, who battled injuries and overuse throughout the season, but Buchholz head coach Robert Taylor used her wisely.

“She’s dealt with a lot of tendonitis, so we decided to save her for the bigger matches so she was a lot more refreshed,” Taylor said.

“I was battling tendonitis in my shoulder back in October and it would always swell up and cause a lot of pain in each match,” Cricchio said. “It would be very painful in my arms and shoulder so I asked him if I could sit out some matches to rest and help balance it out.”

Taylor agreed and used her sparingly throughout the season in matches against Gainesville, Eastside, Oak Hall, Spruce Creek, Palm Coast and the playoffs.

“Her willingness to listen and learn, she adapts to change really well and she understands how to play a player as oppose to just getting out there and playing,” Taylor said. “She knows how to counter like a chess match and she’s willing to change her plan on her opponent, she’s aggressive at the net and does all the small things, not a lot of girls play aggressive.

“I was very pleased, I wasn’t surprised by her winning at all, things just kind of fell into the right place. When she won the third set tiebreaker which she would have lost in the first round, she got even stronger. It was one of the best matches I have seen from her.”

Cricchio’s success is drawing noticed from ACC and SEC programs. She is a 4-star recruit by tennisrecruiting.net and ranked No. 9 overall in her age group. Cricchio ended her season 8-0 in singles and 5-0 in doubles.

Kentucky came to see me play, also William and Mary, Davidson and Virginia have all shown interest in me,” Cricchio said.

One school you won’t find recruiting her right now is the University of Florida and she is OK with that.

”I have not heard from Florida nor have I reached out to them, I have lived in Gainesville my entire life and I want to get away from here and experience new things,” Cricchio said.

Sun All-Area Girls Tennis First Team
Singles: Cade Cricchio, Buchholz, Junior. District 1-4A individual winner and district doubles winner, State Individual Winner. Finished 8-0 in singles and 5-0 in doubles despite a nagging shoulder injury she battled all year long.

Singles: Vari Mai, Eastside, Senior. No. 1 singles player for Rams, won the District 5-2A individual title finishing 12-2 in singles and the doubles title clinching a spot at the state tournament.

Singles: Lauren Moffitt, Buchholz, Senior. Bobcats No. 2 player who battled injuries yet still was able to make an impact, according to coach Robert Taylor.

Singles: Rachel Turney, Eastside, Freshman. Undefeated with partner Vari Mai in No. 1 doubles until state tourney team quarterfinals. Team’s No. 2 singles player.

Singles: Karolyn Cross, Gainesville, Freshman. Finishing 8-0 at No. 4 singles for the Hurricanes.

Singles: Katie Graetz, Santa Fe, Junior. At No. 5 single with 10-0 record.

Doubles: Kate Pickens (Junior) and Nour Oweiss (Sophomore) Oak Hall. Pickens won the District 4-1A Individual title and doubles title, lost 6-2, 6-4 to Kyla Proctor in Sweet 16, No. 2 doubles team with Oweiss was upset 6-4, 6-1 in quarterfinals of state tournament.

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