TAMPA — The Wharton boys did what most had expected, cruising through Tampa's tennis courts for another undefeated season.
The Wildcats' goal all along has been to defend their Class 3A state title.
"They're ready," Wharton coach Marcie Scholl said of her players. "Our motto all season has been to believe. They have to stay focused and positive."
Wharton went 11-0 in a season that could be described as a yawn.
After internal challenges, followed by strong play on the court, Scholl solidified her top five singles players, led by Michael Alford at No. 1.
"He's just on another level," Scholl said. "He's been No. 1 since his freshman season."
Scholl will go with sophomore Ben Hwang at No. 2 singles followed by Rohit Navelkar, Bryant Fuller and Robby Bastian.
All return from last year's state title team, except Hwang, whom Scholl called a pleasant surprise.
"I think we're stronger this year because we're older," Scholl said. "Everyone's seen what it's like to play (in the postseason) except Ben, but he's slid right in."
Class 4A, District 6
Site: On campus
When: Monday, 8:30 a.m.; Tuesday, TBA
Teams: Bloomingdale, Durant, East Bay, Lakeland, Plant City, Riverview, Sarasota, Sarasota Riverview
Boys: Plant City looks solid, finishing 12-2 in the regular season.
Girls: Durant blazed through the district season and should take the crown.
Class 4A, District 5
Site: McMullen Tennis Complex
When: Tuesday, 8 a.m.;
Teams: Alonso, Countryside, Gaither, Mitchell, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Sickles
Boys: Alonso enjoyed a solid season and should be in the thick of things.
Girls: Sickles, Gaither and Alonso should be in the hunt.
Class 3A, District 10
Host: Lakeland George Jenkins
Site: Edgewood Courts
When: Tuesday, 8 a.m.;
Teams: Armwood, Auburndale, Brandon, Lakeland George Jenkins, King, Lakeland Lake Gibson, Eagle Lake Lake Region, Newsome, Tampa Bay Tech, Winter Haven
Boys: Newsome and Brandon had strong seasons and hope to advance. The Wolves are led by Andy Hersh, who made it to the 3A singles final last season.
Girls: Armwood, Brandon and Newsome have solid players, who could move on.
Class 3A, District 9
Site: Hunter's Green Country Club
When: Monday, 8 a.m.; Tuesday, TBA
Teams: Chamberlain, Freedom, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Leto, Plant, Wharton
Boys: Wharton, led by Michael Alford, begins its state title defense at home with Hillsborough and Plant looking strong.
Girls: Plant, led by sophomore Amber Li, had another stellar regular season and appears on track for the district title. Chamberlain, Freedom and Wharton also could contend.
Class 2A, District 10
Site: Hillsborough Community College
When: Monday, 8:30 a.m.;
Teams: Academy of the Holy Names, Jesuit, Lennard, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic, Spoto, Tampa Catholic
Boys: Tampa Catholic should be able to find enough points to challenge for a title.
Girls: Defending district champion Meghan Sullivan of Tampa Catholic has had no drop-off from last season.
Class A, District 9
Host: Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic
Site: Wood Lake Park (boys); Kelly Recreation (girls)
When: Monday, 8 a.m.;
Teams: Winter Haven All Saints, Berkeley Prep, Cambridge, Fort Meade, Frostproof, Lakeland Christian, Lakeland McKeel, Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic, Tampa Prep, Lake Wales Vanguard
Boys: Berkeley Prep, led by Brian Shim, has high hopes to advance.
Girls: The defending region champion Buccaneers and Maria Datcu are poised for another run.
The first- and second-place teams in each district advance to region semifinals April 21 and 23. The No. 1 singles and doubles champions from each district whose teams don't reach state advance to the individual bracket of the state tournament in their respective classifications.