By Thad Hawkes, USTA Florida Youth Program Coordinator

The 2020 Florida High School Athletic Association tennis season is right around the corner. Last season saw a record-breaking performance, dominant teams, and several players winning both their respective singles and doubles divisions.

One of the biggest stories from 2019 was the record-setting performance by Timber Creek’s Alana Wolfberg, who broke Chris Evert’s record of three straight overall singles titles by making it 4-for-4. Wolfberg now moves on to Oklahoma State, and with Buchholz’s Emma Shelton now playing for the Lady Gamecocks at South Carolina, the 4A Girls looks wide open this year.

On the 4A Boys side, Gator-commit Ben Shelton of Buchholz looks to make it two in a row following his 2019 win over Luis Iriarte Bastidas of Cypress Bay in the boys overall singles title. Fleming Island senior and University of North Carolina commit Logan Zapp could make for quite a battle this spring.

The 4A Team Champions, the Miami Palmetto boys and Dr. Krop girls, hope to follow up last year’s success as well in 2020. The Palmetto boys were led by Randy Wilson and Matthew Fung, both now at the University of Louisville; Ryan Fung, who now plays at Southwestern in Kansas; and Daniel Martens – leaving a lot to replace. The Lake Nona boys, last year’s state finalists, look to make a strong return as well with their entire roster and potential additions. Wellington, which brings Chase and Carson Cerejo to the table, also looks powerful this year.

The Dr. Krop girls return without their number one player from last year’s championship team as they look for a repeat win; while the girls from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Miami Palmetto and last year’s finalists Lake Nona all should be up for the challenge.

The 3A division winners, Venice for the boys and Doral for the girls, both return with most if not all their players from last year. Venice senior and 2019 Boys Overall Singles Finalist Benjamin Zipay leads the team champions into the 2020 season while Doral’s Valeria Ray looks to take the team all the way for a repeat championship. The 3A Individual Overall Singles Champions, Logan Haga of Pasco High for the boys and Creekside’s Imani Graham both look to defend their overall titles.

In 2A, Gulliver Prep will return to the 2A with strong rosters after sweeping both Boys and Girls Team titles in 2019. The Boys will return with a younger core following the graduation of top players Nikita Kolesnikov and Nicholas Gore, while the Girls reemerge with their top stars led by standout Sophia Fornaris. Perennial powers and last year’s team finalists Bolles and Jesuit look to come back with a stronger team. Meanwhile, the 2A overall singles and doubles champions, Pinecrest’s David Lins and Natalie Block of American Heritage Plantation, both hope for a repeat.

Finally in the 1A division, the Boys and Girls Team Champions of St. Andrew’s are back with robust rosters. On the Boys side, last year’s overall singles finalist Jacob Lowen returns while overall singles and doubles champion Sara Snyder is back for the girls. Both team finalists, the St. Stephen’s Boys and Community School Girls, will be back looking for another shot at the championship with most of their players from last year.

2020 should be another great year for high school tennis with many of the state and nation’s best young tennis players competing for their schools.  This year’s season officially begins with the first day of matches beginning on February 10th and culminating with the state championships once again in Central Florida from Apr. 27-May 1 at Sanlando, Red Bug Lake and Sylvan Lake Parks and hosted by the Greater Orlando Sports Commission.

To those of you representing your schools and competing with your teammates, good luck and enjoy your season!