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Wharton learns from past disappointment

The team struggled in last year's tournament. Now it is showing strength and depth.

By Terry Jones
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 24, 2002

NEW TAMPA -- Going into their district tournament last year, the Wharton boys tennis squad was undefeated at 12-0 and sky high with hopes of a team championship. Then something went wrong. One by one, the Wildcats began to lose and fall by the wayside.

"They just choked," said Wharton coach Marcie Scholl, "but all are back this season with a lesson learned, and this year should be different."

Only one of her top players graduated, so the team will have depth, she said.

So far this season the Wharton boys are showing their strength and determination.

In their first four matches, the Wildcats beat Riverview 6-1, King 7-0 and Plant City 4-3 and won against Sickles in a matchup Thursday, 7-0. The Wildcats' team record is now 4-0.

Konstantin Lazarov played the No. 1 position last year as a freshman and won the singles district title. Now a sophomore, he's in the same position this year "with more experience and more desire to go all the way," Scholl said.

Konstantin will team up with Evan Dufaux as No. 1 doubles. Dufaux will also play in the No. 2 singles position.

Sidelined last season with an injured wrist, Venezuelan-born Frankie Castillo is healthy and in the No. 3 position, as well as part of the No. 2 doubles team. No. 4 player Greg Fisher is the other half of that doubles team.

Neil Allman, now a senior, is in the No. 5 singles position this season. He should also get some time with the No. 2 doubles team.

The Wildcats' second five have enough skill and experience to be in the starting lineup with other teams.

Freshman Scot Seitz is at No. 6; seniors Tommy Rysateri and Bobby Lefebvre are at 7 and 8. Freshman Freddie Bartholomew is at No. 9 and freshman Jason Davis is No. 10.

Konstantin, Dufaux, Castillo, Fisher and Allman are undefeated so far in individual singles matches.

When the state run begins with districts April 15-16, the Wildcats will face tough competition; regional play a week later will be even tougher, but Scholl believes in her players and says they believe in themselves.

"They are working hard together and are supportive of each other," Scholl said. "They have good skills, but they need to loosen up and simply have fun playing the game. When that happens, the skills kick in and they will do great."

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