Lecanto High School athletic director Kelly Tyler announced Jorge Navarro as the new boys' tennis coach on Monday.
Navarro, 27, replaces Bruce Sheffield, who became the baseball coach after Jim Manos left that post to become athletic director at Lecanto Middle School. Navarro is a sophomore English and drama teacher at Lecanto, where he has taught for four years.
Navarro played competitively from the age of 8 through high school. He was the captain of his Hialeah High School team and played in U.S. Tennis Association tournaments before that.
Although this year marks his first coaching experience, he has some familiarity with the Panthers _ he worked with the team before the season last year.
The Panthers finished tied for eighth last year in the Class 2A, District 3 tournament.
Among the returnees for Navarro will be Ryan Brown, who went to state as a freshman in 1991 but sat out last year with a knee injury. Also joining the team is exchange student Kenji Negoe, whom Navarro calls "a monster" and a good club player in Sweden.
"We should be very competitive," said the University of Florida graduate. "The biggest weaknesses last year were mental. That's what I want to work on; a lot of matches were lost because of the mental aspect.
To that end, he hopes his players take a cue from Jimmy Connors, the 40-year-old legend who amazed all with his run to the U.S. Open semifinals last year.
"He's tenacious, relentless, a madman," Navarro said, but later added, "I want (the players to show) controlled emotion. A couple players last year had control problems that led to the loss of a couple of matches."
Navarro's first order of business will be to schedule a 10th dual match to round out the slate, which includes eight Gulf Coast Conference matches plus a date with Cedar Key.
"I want to establish a winning tradition and a high-quality level of play," he said. "This is something I've wanted to do for a long time."