Capsule outlook of the area’s high school tennis teams
High school tennis outlook
Coach: Rick Skarinka (3rd year)
Last year: 9-5, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Revanth Damerla, jr.; Jack Bryck, so.; Brendan Bryck, jr.; Nick Vermette, jr.; Logan Sigua, so.
Top newcomer: Thomas MacMullen, fr.
Outlook: After failing to make the tournament last year, the goal for the Green Giants is to make the playoffs for the first time since the program returned to NHIAA play in the 2011 season. There are no seniors in the starting lineup, so the Green Giants are a relatively young team, but most of the juniors and sophomores have one year experience as starters. Brady is looking forward to getting out on the courts and has lots of potential to improve once it can play regularly.
Teams to beat: With defending champions Bedford moving up to Division I, Coach Skarinka expects several teams to challenge for the title. Hanover, Portsmouth, Souhegan and Derryfield (first year in D-II, moved down from D-I) all have very strong programs and should be contenders.
Coach: Sam Struthers (12th year)
Last year: 4-10, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Jakob Zylak, sr.; Connor Bell, jr.; Alex Wimsatt, jr.; Simon Wallace, sr.
Top newcomers: Jeremy Fenerty, so.; Garrett Kunz, so.; Brian Gordon, fr.; Jared Carlson, fr.
Outlook: The Bears have a four-year starter in Zylak and a pair of three-year starters in Bell and Wimsatt, not to mention a seasoned senior in Wallace. All that experience will be helpful early in the year since Coe-Brown, like many teams in the state, has done much of its practicing in the gym. The Bears will need both leadership and production from those older players as they try to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Coach: Drew Groves (6th year)
Last year: 16-1, Division III runner-up
Returning starters: Zach Zbehlik, jr.; Arun Luckoor, sr.; Evan Maccani, sr.; Harrison Beck, sr.
Top newcomers: Tim Bradley, jr.; Nathan Louf, jr.
Outlook: Coming off a runner-up finish last year, Bow fields a young team that shows promise and has a great work ethic. Returning varsity starters Luckoor, Maccani and Beck were all key in last year’s run to the finals and have shown good leadership so far.
Teams to beat: Profile, Pelham (down from D-II), Gilford
Coach: Peter Bianchi (7th year)
Last year: 7-7, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Vincente Metrano, sr.; Tim Berube, sr.; Karver Bosela, jr.
Top newcomers: Drake van Kannewurff, so.; Jack Van Etten, fr.; Sam Bourcier, fr.
Outlook: The Cougars lost a lot of experienced players to graduation, so this will be a rebuilding year. According to Coach Bianchi, Kearsarge has “a good mix of experienced players and enthusiastic newcomers, so we hope to be as competitive as we can be in all of our matches.” With only two seniors and two juniors on the roster, the Cougars will need the underclassmen to play well if Kearsarge hopes to make the playoffs.
Teams to beat: Gilford, Bow, Pelham
Coach: Marcia Moran (11th year)
Last year: 11-4, lost in quarterfinals
Returning starters: Maddy Moran, sr.; Shelby Herrington, jr.
Outlook: The Green Giants return just two starters from a year ago, but have four players – junior Katie MacMullin, seniors Caroline Urbanek and Mikayla Clarke, and sophomore Lynn Yoon – who have been patiently waiting their turns to step into the starting lineup, and now is their time. “It’s a great group of girls, and they’re out to continue what they’ve come to be a part of – a winning tradition,” Coach Moran said. With no returning doubles teams, Brady is certainly in a rebuilding year, but with Moran and Herrington back at the top of the ladder, the Giants are looking to remain a contender. “I think we have a lot of kids that are capable and really know the game,” Moran said. “They leave it all out on the court and chase down everything. But a lot of it depends on the field we meet; we’re not naive about that.”
Teams to beat: Hanover, Portsmouth, Souhegan
Coach: Mark Struthers (6th year)
Last year: 10-5, lost in quarterfinals
Returning starters: Noey Struthers, sr.; Kate Forsythe, sr.; Shannon Ketenci, sr.; Nikki D’Alessandro, sr.; Emily Blad, jr.
Top newcomers: Sophie Wensberg, Bianca Ketenci
Outlook: With five returning starters and four seniors in the top six, the Bears are loaded with experience. That should serve them well as they try to reach the playoffs for a third straight year, but it will take some work in a tough league. “Last year for four seniors to continue an excellent high school run,” Coach Struthers said. “Division II is very competitive, so the seniors will have to stay focused and determined.”
Teams to beat: Portsmouth, St. Thomas, Bishop Brady
Coach: Christine Sarandopolis (3rd year)
Last year: 5-9, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Rena DeAngelis, sr.; Isabella Bauer, sr.; Steph Tumasz, jr.; Gabby Bonanno, jr.
Top newcomer: Melina Katakaridis, so.
Outlook: The arrival of Katakaridis, a German exchange student, not only gives the Spartans a new No. 1 player, but also a positive role model who displays a strong work ethic and talent on the court. She will be a formidable opponent to other top players in the division. Besides Katakaridis, the Spartans have a deep team, especially at doubles, and hope this new talent and depth give them a shot at making the playoffs.
Coach: Jonesy Rainville (1st year)
Last year: 14-3, Division III runner-up
Returning starters: Sunday Swett, sr.; Jessica Torres, sr.; Nisha Naik, sr.; Kristie Smith, sr.; Paige Wilber, sr.; Alex Lust, sr.
Outlook: The Falcons have their entire lineup back from last year’s team that lost a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to Profile in the title match. It all starts with Swett, who has been one of the premier players in the state since her freshman year. After Swett, the Nos. 2-6 on last year’s singles ladder were Torres, Naik, Smith, Lust and Wilber. All those experienced players will have a new coach in Rainville, but she’s not new to the team, which she last coached in 2004.
Teams to beat: “There will be a number of tough teams in our division, including Laconia, Gilford, Kearsarge, Pelham and Prospect Mountain, to name a few,” Rainville said.
Coach: Laura Joslin-King (1st year)
Last year: 6-8, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Kathleen Kowalski, jr.; Brianne Maguire, sr.; Emily Irick, jr.; Sabrina Duquette, jr.
Outlook: Kearsarge lost four of its top six players from a year ago, so the Cougars are facing a rebuilding year, but they also return four players with starting experience, giving them a good base to build upon. An influx of five freshmen also bodes well for the future. “The team has great spirit and we look forward to a season of fun, competitive tennis,” Coach Joslin-King said.