By Eugenio Torrens
Wharton boys tennis coach Glenn Alvarez stressed one thing to his team as the afternoon closed on his squad’s attempt to repeat as Class 4A-District 6 champions — start fresh.
“Take whatever you have done in the past behind, leave it there, let’s start all over again,” Alvarez said.
Both the Wharton boys and girls teams were unable to catch Plant, which swept the district titles. The Panthers’ girls team easily took the crown, scoring 21 points to best runner-up Wharton by nine.
“Going into the tournament we had our sights set on Plant,” said Wharton girls coach Lori Miles, who was encouraged by a 4-3 regular season loss to a shorthanded Panthers squad. She then added. “From Day 1 we had our goals set on being district winner. If that meant getting through Plant, we knew that was a formidable obstacle, but we knew the potential was there.
“We thought that we could make a good showing this year, and we still think that’s possible in regionals if we focus — focus on our net play especially … Everybody’s beatable, so we’re counting on that. We won’t give up until that last point is played,” Miles continued.
The race between Plant and Wharton was closer on the boys side and came down to the final two matches — like last year when the Panthers led by two points with two doubles matches remaining. In 2011, the Wildcats won the eventual tiebreaker to claim the district championship.
This season however, Plant was too experienced and won with 19 points to Wharton’s 15.
“Plant had the experience,” Alvarez said. “They’re good. I knew them all from last year. I knew it was going to be tough.”
Wharton’s Marcel Betancourt and Cesar Maeda won their respective singles matches, but the team had to win its final two doubles just to tie the Panthers.
The Wildcats were down by two points with Plant blocking the path to a possible second straight year of a come-from-behind win. The Panthers won the doubles finals for the four-point win.
“Especially when you get down by two points the pressure starts in on you,” Alvarez added. “You start to squeeze a little bit, you try to make better shots or right-down-the-line shots and you go wide.”
Even with all the younger talent the Wildcats possess, both the boys and girls advance to regionals. That’s where both Alvarez and Miles hope the lessons learned at the district championship translate on the court.
Both Wharton teams play at Wiregrass Ranch on April 10. The boys play at
11 a.m., while the girls start at 3 p.m.
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