Clearing off the courts
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It is hard to imagine that with much of the region still covered in snow and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees that the high school tennis season is less than a week away.
Monday is the official start date for matches and the Conant and Wilton-Lyndeborough teams were set to open the season against one another on Monday, but were rescheduled for later in the season.
Through the first week and a half, teams have been banished to indoor courts and gymnasiums and many times at odd hours in order to get some practice time logged before taking to the courts for the season opener.
But soon the snow will be a distant memory, as the temperatures warm up and the local teams begin playing as many as three matches a week.
Despite losing three from his top six, ConVal coach Greg Morris is excited about what this year’s team is capable of.
While practice time has been limited, Morris already has his top six set for ConVal’s season opener at home against Goffstown on April 5. Senior Caroline Trowbridge moves up one spot to the top position and senior Chloe Kipka makes the jump to No. 2. The duo will also partner as the top doubles pairing.
Sophomore Chloe Tournier starts as the team’s No. 3, but Morris expects a lot of competition this season among the top three.
“Our strength this year is one, two and three,” said Morris. “And I’m sure the top three will be challenging each other all year.”
Junior Ashlynn Wing and McKenzie West take over the fourth and fifth positions and senior Sabina Pieterse rounds out the rotation as ConVal’s No. 6.
“Four, five and six are also so close to each other,” said Morris.
The Cougars finished one spot out of the playoffs last year, but Morris hopes to make the jump into the D-II tournament.
“I think we have a shot at one of those final spots,” he said.
Longtime ConVal coach Mike Young will be trying to figure out a lot prior to his team’s opener at Goffstown on April 5.
After losing his top two players, who both played in the state singles and double tournament last year, along with three others who frequently played in the top six for last year’s 7-7 squad, Young will need a few matches to see how the lineup shakes out.
“I’m going to put my coaching skills to the test,” said Young. “It’s hard anytime you lose your one and two.”
The Cougars have three seniors in Isaiah Claggett-Singleton, Sam Pennington and Brian Spears and all three will factor into the top six and doubles play this season.
Junior Daniel Forest, who made the switch from baseball last year and played in a lot of matches in 2012, was a fixture in the rotation and should be vying for one of the top positions. Junior Brendan Grenier and Jack Lithgow should also be consistently in the lineup and will battle for a chance to move up the ladder, while also playing doubles. Junior Curtis Dumais and Andrew Pierce also figure to be in the mix.
“Challenge matches are the best way to figure it out,” said Young.
The Orioles only won four matches last season, but lost quite a few close ones.
And with five of the top six players returning from last year and just one senior, coach Jody Baker expects a few more wins to come her team’s way.
Junior Allina Bennett returns as the No. 1 player, while classmates Courtney Dillon, Hannah Clark and Hannah Duncan and senior Vicki Roach all fit into the rotation for much of the season last year and are expected to do the same again this season.
“We only lost one player from the top six, so our goal is to try and break even this year,” Baker said.
Conant also has nine freshmen and some that could battle for spots in both singles and doubles matches. But with little practice time, the lineup is still in the works.
“We have to get out and play some challenge matches,” said Baker.
Conant travels to Monadnock on Wednesday
The Orioles finished last season with an 0-14 record and lost their top player to graduation.
And despite the fact Conant has a small team once again, there is some experience there. Senior Brian Yaceshyn, who played in the state doubles tournament last year, returns and will likely move to the top of the lineup. Tyler Desmaris and Lucas Tapply both picked up some wins in the middle of the rotation last year and should be able to do the same in 2013.
Conant opens up Wednesday versus Monadnock.
The Warriors lost its top two players from last year’s playoff team that finished 9-6 after falling in the first round of the Division III tournament.
And the team will be under new direction with John Williams taking over.
Overall, WLC has eight players on the roster and four that took the court for almost every match last season. But with limited practice time so far, it is hard for Williams to say where everyone will fit in.
“I think it’s a good team, but we’re young,” said Williams. “It could be tough this year, but good for next year.”
Juniors James Edmunds and Connor Holt occupied the third and fourth positions last year and are likely to move up to the top two spots at least to begin the season. They will also team for doubles play again.
Ryan Christino and Skye Williams got valuable experience last year playing near the end of the rotation and will be counted on to move up and help fill out the top four spots.
“Everybody’s basically going to move up to start,” said Williams.
WLC travels to Kearsarge on Wednesday.
The Warriors earned just a single win last season, snapping a 33-game losing streak that went all the way back to May 2009.
Most of the team returns from last year starting with the top two players in seniors Sarah Higgins and Casey Montefusco. Sophomores Taylor Webb, Kassie Dumont, who both were mainstays in the lineup, and Rachel Carder also return.
“I think they’ve all grown from last year,” said coach Betsie Sullivan.
Freshman Madison Bacon, who played as a seventh grader, is back and will be welcomed addition to the lineup.
“I’m pretty excited about this team,” said Sullivan.
WLC will host Kearsarge on Wednnesday.