TAMPA — Three-time defending state champion Wharton is looking pretty serious about making it four straight after routing Palm Harbor University on Tuesday afternoon at Hunter’s Green Country Club.
The 1-2 combination of Ben Hwang and Rohit Navelkar not only dropped but one game in winning their matches, they finished within 30 seconds of each other as the Wildcats won 4-1 in the Class 4A regional.
The Wildcats will get a rematch against rival Plant on Thursday, a week after overtaking the Panthers on the last day of districts and then in a tiebreaker a few days later.
“Ben and Rohit were great,” said coach Glenn Alvarez. “Those two are already going to state no matter what, but I’d love to take the whole team.”
Hwang posted a 6-0, 6-1 win over PHU sophomore David Teytelbaum at No. 1, and Navelkar beat Nathan Lord 6-1, 6-0 at No. 2.
“We heard these guys were state champs three years running, and it’s not for nothing,” said Lord, who last played Navelkar when the two were 10 years old, with Navelkar winning 6-4.
“He’s got a huge forehand,” Lord said. “It’s hard keeping him off it. … He was in control the whole match.”
Wharton freshmen Sam Chaffin and Alek Crnogorak won at Nos. 3 and 4 singles to clinch the match.
PHU’s only win came at No. 5, where Jack Whitaker beat Taylor Young 6-2, 6-4.
Plant eases past St. Petersburg
Plant had no trouble dispatching St. Petersburg in Class 4A region competition at the St. Petersburg Tennis Center.
The Panthers won 5-0, sweeping all singles matches. Tristen Kaye (No. 1), Brenton D'Adamo (No. 2), Alec Josepher (No. 4) and Schuler Welch (No. 5) each won in straight sets.
The closest match came at No. 3 singles where Plant's Mike Sewlar beat St. Petersburg's Robert Dvorak 6-3, 5-6, 6-1.
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer
Raiders siblings fight through
Plant City siblings Harrison and Spencer Heysek fought cramping during the Raiders’ Class 4A first-round region match against at Vero Beach. But when the Raiders needed their top singles players the most they gave the performance of the season in a 4-2.
The Heyseks teamed up to clinch Plant City’s first region match win since 2001, earning a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) No. 2 doubles win over Vero Beach, a state qualifier last spring.
“Sometimes you have sibling rivalries, but they put it aside,” Plant City coach Dale Rice said. “Spencer really played well in doubles, and I think Harrison fed off it. They really pushed each other.”
The win came after Harrison Heysek won his No. 1 singles match 6-3, 6-3, followed by tight wins by No. 3 Justin Keel, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), and No. 5 Trent Lott, 7-6 (7-3), 7-5.
It was also a homecoming for Rice, a 1976 Vero Beach alum.
Eduardo A. Encina, Times staff writer