First Academy girls golf wins state championship — again

This is the fourth state championship in six years for the Lady Royals.

TFA Royals€™ bond is so strong that all players were present at states, even though three didn€™t qualify. Courtesy photo.
TFA Royals€™ bond is so strong that all players were present at states, even though three didn€™t qualify. Courtesy photo.
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Flexibility and the ability to adjust served The First Academy girls golf team well this year.

The Royals became royalty on the golf course again after winning the FHSAA Class 1A Golf State Championship Saturday, Nov. 12, at Mission Inn and Resort’s Las Colinas course at Howey-In-The-Hills.

“(The girls) learned to be flexible and to make the best out of each situation,” head golf coach Victoria Tanco said. “That was proven at states — knowing that because of the storm (Hurricane Nicole), that had hit a few days earlier, the competition got shortened to 18 holes. So, they knew they had to perform on that day — knowing that they didn’t have another day to recover. That was the key — being flexible and knowing how to make the best out of each situation.”

The Royals have earned the state championship title four times in six years — 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Senior Ava Zhang, 17, has been part of the TFA golf team for seven years. This is the fourth title she takes home as a Royal.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” she said. “Last year, we had a chance to get the championship, but it slipped our fingers. So, it definitely feels very good this year to finally be able to grasp it. It’s super bittersweet, because I’ve been on the team for so long. It’s great to end my whole high school career with the trophy. It feels nice.”

Sophomore Mi Li, 16, led the Royals on the golf course as the individual medallist with a 5-under-par 66.

“We definitely knew we were going to states; we never thought we wouldn’t get to states,” she said. “We definitely got surprised on winning this time, because we got the lead in the last four holes all around.”

The team is young this year. Freshman Angela Wang, 14, made her first appearance at states this year after having to play an extra qualifying round against two other players.

“I was the fifth person (who) qualified,” she said. “I think it was a lot of pressure to not let down anyone else in the team — especially (because) I was the youngest. So I tried to do my best during my rounds and just play (well).”

Despite their first-place finish with a final score of 286, the Royals faced tough opponents on the golf course, including Circle Christian of Orlando — which finished with 289.

“We played one of the hardest regions; we played really strong teams,” Tanco said. “This whole season, we saw that through the scores and through playing the other schools, so we knew our competition was going to be strong. … Thankfully, (that day) we were able to play with our strongest competition, and I think that helped us know where we were in the scoring.”

Despite winning districts earlier in their season, the Royals ended in third place at the regional meet — therefore, they qualified to states as the No. 3 seed.

The school played five of its eight players at states.

“That’s one of the hardest jobs as a coach — to not be able to play all players,” Tanco said. “But the top five were really good, and they were able to shoot really good scores throughout the season and in the last few holes (of the competition). … All the five girls are solid players, and all of them can really play.”

Sophomore Katie Yang, 15, has been a part of the team for two years. This was the first year she was able to compete at states.

“The competition definitely got more fierce and challenging,” she said of the season. “Last year, I didn’t make it to states, so I kind of pressured myself to make it into states. So, I’m glad it worked out.”

Moving forward, the Royals are left with a team that will be working on absorbing all the knowledge they possibly can to become even better.

“I know the girls are hard workers,” Tanco said. “Come next year, our goal (will be) the same — play one shot at a time and give our best.”



Andrea Mujica

Staff writer Andrea Mujica covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida. When she’s not on the sidelines, you can find Andrea coaching rowers at the Orlando Area Rowing Society in Windermere.

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