Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough boys tennis preview

TAMPA — The Wharton boys tennis team made history last season by becoming the first Hillsborough County team to win back-to-back team state titles. But as the Wildcats continue to chase history, this might be Wharton's best team yet.

Wharton's top three singles players — No. 1 Michael Alford, No. 2 Ben Hwang and No. 3 Rohit Navelkar — return after winning state singles titles last year. The trio didn't drop a singles match all year.

"It's just unbelievable," coach Marcie Scholl said. "I think we're going to be stronger than last year. Our top three are a year older and wiser."

Add in sophomore newcomer John Ho, who Scholl said will be a four-star recruit, and the Wildcats appear poised to become the first boys tennis team to claim three straight titles in 35 years. Lakewood won from 1973-75 when there was just one classification.

"It's very exciting, but I don't want pressure on our guys," Scholl said. "Anyone can win every single day. They're all very smart so they have to be focused on playing their best."

Wharton's success, however, begins and ends with Alford, a five-star recruit who has signed to play at the University of Florida and could leave as the most successful player in program history. He claimed the No. 1 individual and doubles titles last season. He is ranked No. 62 in the nation and 10th in Florida among USTA U-18 players.

As a captain, Scholl said she will depend on Alford to tutor the young players; six of the team's 10 are freshmen and sophomores.

"He's the captain so I'm looking to him for leadership," Scholl said. "He's a wonderful role model for three freshmen. He's going to show them how to play the game with class and how to play the game right."

fast facts

Boys to watch

Michael Alford, Sr., Wharton: UF recruit is the unquestioned leader of Wildcats' drive for three straight state titles.

Zach Bandes, Jr., Berkeley Prep: District champ at No. 2 last year will step up to No. 1 to replace departed Brian Shim.

Ben Hwang, Jr., Wharton: Came out of nowhere to have undefeated season at No. 2 singles, ending with a Class 3A state title.

Hunter McCampbell, Sr., Newsome: Won district singles title at No. 4 and part of winning No. 2 doubles team.

Jack Murphy, So., Hills­borough: Terriers IB student is already top returning player on defending district champs.

Rohit Navelkar, Jr., Wharton: Hasn't lost a match in two years; defending Class 3A state champ at No. 3.

Hillsborough boys tennis preview 02/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010 11:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.