Plant, Wharton win state tennis titles
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS - A pair of Hillsborough County high school tennis teams made history Tuesday. Wharton's boys team became the first Hillsborough County program to win back-to-back state tennis titles, and Plant became the county's first girls team to win a state championship. "We want another one," said Wharton junior Michael Alford, the Wildcats' No. 1 singles player. "We want to three-peat." Wharton won a share of the Class 3A title when it tied with Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas. The Wildcats beat St. Thomas Aquinas last year for its first tennis championship. Alford, No. 2 Ben Hwang and No. 3 Rohit Navelkar each won their division to help Wharton secure the title.St. Thomas Aquinas claimed a share of the championship when its No. 1 doubles team defeated Alford and Navelkar in three sets. The Wharton duo rallied after losing the first set and forced a deciding set by overcoming a 5-1 deficit in the second. Alford will play for the overall Class 3A singles championship today. Plant won three singles finals to clinch the 3A title ahead of West Broward. No. 1 Amber Li, No. 3 Claire Mitchell-Andrews and No. 4 Morgan Nolan easily handled their competition in the finals without dropping a set. Nolan teamed with Carol Marie Fraley to win the No. 2 doubles division. And, like Alford, Li will play today for the overall Class 3A singles title. "We get a banner now," Plant coach Lynn Vu said. "We have all the volleyball ones and football ones and cross country ones, and now we can finally add a girls tennis one."