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TAMPA — Glenn Alvarez’s coaching friends have joked with him that he was crazy to take the Wharton boys tennis job.
“They tell me, ‘If you don’t win states, it’s a losing season, ’ ” Alvarez said. “I just laugh with it.”
Alvarez does have big shoes to fill replacing Marcie Scholl, who guided the Wildcats to state team titles the past three years.
An even bigger void was left by Mike Alford, who won back-to-back No. 1 singles state titles and is now playing at Florida.
Last year’s No. 2 Ben Hwang and No. 3 Rohit Navelkar will each move up a spot and are experienced junior tennis players who won state titles as sophomores.
“It definitely feels different this year, ” Navelkar said. “I really think we have a really solid chance at winning states again and making it four in a row. I think we have great depth."
Alvarez said Hwang and Navelkar are each capable of playing at No. 1 — their challenge match to decide their seeding went to three sets — so he’s confident the Wildcats will be strong at the top of the rotation.
Wharton’s success will also depend on freshmen Sam Chaffin at No. 3 and Alek Crnogorac at No. 4.
“They both have excellent ground games and excellent serves, ” Alvarez said. “They both cover a lot of ground. High school tennis is nothing they’re intimidated by because they’re used to playing the best.”
Hwang and Navelkar have been in the same spot as underclassmen trying to hold up their end of the rotation, so Alvarez will depend on his seniors to guide the freshmen.
“The main thing is helping them make sure they maintain composure and don’t get upset with calls, ” Alvarez said. “The seniors have been there before. …They’re going to have to be our leaders, because we’ll have a target on our back in every match. Other schools are going to look at them and be hungry.”
Boys to watch
Colin Edwards, Sr., Newsome: Top player on a Wolves team, who’s committed to Boston U. and should compete for a district title.
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