Tennis season winds into full swing for local high schools

  • Bow’s Olivia Parzick serves at Bedford High School in 2019. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Published: 4/20/2021 7:36:08 AM

As the Bow High girls’ tennis team opens its season this week with a pair of matches against Lebanon, the Falcons have a new coach and five new players in their top six. Still, Bow has to be one of the teams to watch in Division II given its tradition and the return of senior Olivia Parzick.

Bow has been to finals in seven of the last nine seasons and won four titles in that time. Eight of those finals appearances were in D-III, including three straight from 2016-2018. After losing in the 2016 D-III final, the Falcons had undefeated championship seasons in 2017 and 2018 in D-III and won 35 straight matches in the process.

Bow moved up to D-II in 2019, but playing against bigger schools didn’t slow the winning streak until the final. That’s when the Falcons lost to Portsmouth (a team they had beaten earlier in the season), their first defeat after 51 straight wins.

Parzick was the No. 3 player on the 2018 team and moved up to No. 1 in 2019. She’s a year-round player trained at Chandronnait Tennis Academy in Bow, which has produced dozens of high school champions and college-level players, and has a ton of competitive experience. Now a senior, Parzick likely would have been one of the top seeds at the postseason individual tournament, but none of those are being held this year – singles or doubles, boys or girls. Parzick will keep playing beyond this season, however, since she’s committed to playing collegiately at D-II Saint Anselm.

Nicole Ledoux will be taking over coaching duties for Jonsey Rainville, who stepped down after eight years. Having Parzick at the top of the ladder will certainly help Ledoux as she takes over the team. The new coach has two other players with varsity experience in seniors Sophia Valpey, a co-captain along with Parzick, and Katie Nagy. Seniors Lauren McKeen and Catherine Maurer, junior Amy Gray and sophomore Sudeshna Chakraborty have all looked good in the preseason for Bow, which has a roster that goes 17 deep.

“We’re glad to be back playing tennis after a long break,” Ledoux said.

The Bow boys’ team won the 2018 D-III title, but missed out on the 2019 D-II playoffs. Coach Drew Groves, now in his 20th season as the Falcons head coach, has two players back from the 2019 team – junior Noah Leuchtenberger, who was No. 5 two years ago, and senior Aidan Munro, who was No. 7 in 2019. After that, Groves said he had, “a whole cast of new players of mostly unknown talent,” entering the season.

Munro had the lone win on Bow’s season-opening 8-1 loss to Lebanon on Monday. Sophomore Dominik Jurcins and freshmen Hunter Duncan (a key member of Bow’s 2020 D-III champion golf team) and Colby Smith played at No. 1, 2 and 3, respectively, in that match. The two teams are scheduled to meet again on Wednesday.

After their opening matches with Lebanon, the Bow teams will have a pair of matches against Coe-Brown as the spring schedules continue to have contests between schools all clustered into the same week. Like the fall and spring, the regular-season schedules prioritize location over division and the postseason divisional state boys’ and girls’ team tennis tournaments will be open to all schools that want to participate, and seeding will be random.

The Coe-Brown girls’ team opened its season with a 5-4 home win against Bishop Brady on Monday. Skye Loto led the way from the top of the ladder, winning 8-0 in her singles match, and her dominant serve led to a doubles win with partner Kira NealBurk.

“Skye Loto was able to show how unbelievable of a player she truly is today. Her serves were tremendous, her forehand was on point, and her backhand is something to be feared,” said first-year Bears coach Chris Burns, who is also excited about junior Megan Brieger.

Coe-Brown freshmen Jacqueline Heilshorn and Abigail Coleman also won on both the singles and doubles courts to help the Bears to the win.

Brady senior Jaidan Bergeron used her quickness to win both her singles and doubles matches on Monday. Junior Libbey Hicks, a tremendous three-sport athlete, also played well for the Giants.

Bergeron is one of three returning starters from the 2019 team for first-year coach Kelsey Perrault along with Julia Puleo and Cassidy Gendron. Hicks, Bergeron and Gendron were all part of Brady’s 2021 D-II state championship basketball team, as was freshman Morgan Casey, who is one of the newcomers Perrault is keeping an eye on, along with Reese Pelletier and Laura Yap.

“We are working with a large team this year, carrying 18 players, the highest roster tennis has had at Brady,” Perrault said. “Though half the team is new to tennis, they are athletic, coachable, and learning quickly.”

The Kearsarge girls’ team opened its season with a 9-0 win on Monday at home against Pembroke Academy. The Cougars have four starters back from the 2019 team that finished 13-2 after losing in the D-III semifinals to Littleton – senior Becca MacDowell and juniors Callie Valeri, Estelle Chmura and Addy Stadler. Coach Elizabeth Lincoln, now in her fourth year with the team, also likes what she sees from senior Kennedy Geary and junior Marissa Montagna.

“We’ve been preparing on and off the court and have high expectations in hopes to have a healthy and successful season,” Lincoln said. “I know myself and the girls are ecstatic to be back together.”

Pembroke has one returning starter from 2019, senior Keelin Crips, and three other girls with some tennis experience. On Monday, senior Madi Apgar and sophomore Abby Collins put up the best match against Kearsarge, losing 8-3 at No. 3 doubles. Coach David Goulet, now in his fifth year with the team, also thinks sophomore newcomer Emma Parson shows promise.

“It felt good to play tennis again after not playing last year,” Goulet said after Monday’s match. “Kearsarge has nice new courts and their girls were strong all the way down the ladder.”

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