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If It’s Spring, Then Hanover’s Contending

There are things that remain constant about high school tennis in the Upper Valley. It will start cold. It will dodge slowflakes for a time. And Hanover will be competing for a state championship at the end of May.

The Marauders should be near the top in both the boys and girls divisions this spring, seeking to end uncommonly long title droughts. The Hanover girls last took states in 2007 and have fallen in the finals twice in the past four seasons, but a roster filled with returning players provides promise. The Hanover boys have seen Bedford grab the state crown the past three years; the Bulldogs have graduated a ton of talent, however, while the Marauders have added a promising freshman to the top of their lineup.

Several other area teams have started learning about the joys and challenges of success. The Lebanon boys and Woodstock girls made the state semis last year; both Hartford squads qualified for states; and Kearsarge narrowly missed making its tournament in both cases.

Here’s a capsule look of what’s on the high school courts this year:

Girls

Hanover

Coach: Glen Eastridge (11).

Last Year: 15-1, lost to St. Thomas in state finals, 5-4.

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Katie Irwin, Raina Siegel. Juniors — Camille Hankel, Kendra McGowan. Sophomores — Liz Goss, Willa Kaufman, Zoe Yu.

Who’s New: Senior — Helen Tosteson. Junior — Emile Acker; Sophomore — Hazuki Horiuchi.

Who’s Gone: Alexandra Bozuwa, Emma Burnham, Maddie Dewhirst, Lauren Slater, Hattie Stern.

Strengths: Depth.

Weaknesses: None.

Toughest Opponent: Bishop Brady.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “A lot of excitement this year. All the returners are ready to step up and take a bigger role, and the new people should step up and give us extra depth this season.”

Hartford

Coach: Iris Berezin (30).

Last Year: 8-7, lost to BFA-St. Albans in first round.

League: Vermont Division I, Marble Valley League.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Ossia Dwyer, Jessie Gofberg, Allyse Mullen. Juniors — Kali Covell, Ashley Fogg.

Who’s New: Senior — Alex Fogg. Freshmen — Colleen McDermott, Christine Miller, Amanda Nelson.

Who’s Gone: Alicia Cerasoli, Emily Fariel, Laura Files, Meagan Kidder, Mindy Yeung.

Strengths: “Good work ethic and competitive spirit. Returning players are looking forward to moving up the ladder.”

Weaknesses: “This is a learning year for the doubles teams, who are in their first year of competition.”

Toughest Opponents: Burr & Burton, Woodstock, Hanover.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This year, it will be exciting to watch the girls improve their skills as they take on the competition.”

Kearsarge

Coach: Laura Joslin-King (1).

Last Year: 6-8, missed state tournament.

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Brianne Maguire, GeorgiaAnn Brown. Juniors — Kathleen Kowalski, Sabrina Duquette, Emily Irick, Haley Anderson. Sophomore — Renee Hall.

Who’s New: Sophomore — Katrina Gale. Freshmen — Andrea Cutts, Sophie Lizotte, Lahtesha Nelson, Gillian Shannon, Riley Messer. Joslin-King replaces Daniela Mellen as coach.

Who’s Gone: Ashley Mellen.

Strengths: Enthusiasm and team spirit.

Weaknesses: “New players and players moving up in positions from last year create new challenges.”

Toughest Opponent: Bow.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “It is a rebuilding year, with a relatively young team. However, the enthusiasm for the sport is great.”

Lebanon

Coaches: Joe and Hank Doran (12).

Last Year: 8-6, missed state tournament.

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Haley Jones, Sara Hagan. Juniors — Brianna Li, Megan Mason. Sophomores — Brielle Giaccone, Ashley O’Keefe, Abby Wilkinson.

Who’s Gone: Jingya Qiu, Alicia Rydjeski.

Strengths: “This team works harder than some of our past teams.”

Weaknesses: “Lack of depth.”

Toughest Opponents: Hanover, Milford, Goffstown.

Coaches Final Thoughts: “I think we’ll do just as well as last year.”

Stevens

Coach: Karen Cullison (5).

Last Year: 0-14, missed state tournament.

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Kendall Theroux, Victoria Webster; Juniors — Cassie Dale, Corri Holtz, Sami Vashaw, Gabby Keyser, Allison Lessard.

Who’s New: Sophomore — Desneige Roy.

Who’s Gone: Jessica Eaton, Emmy Craigue.

Strengths: “We have some wonderfully intelligent girls who are quick to pick up on the strategies of the game.”

Weaknesses: “Youth and inexperience. Timidity and self-confidence play a major role in some of my players.”

Toughest Opponents: Bow, Littleton, Conant, Prospect Mountain, Monadnock.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: ”I’m cautiously optimistic. We have an enthusiastic, humble, but hungry group of girls.”

Woodstock

Coach: Tom Hopewell (14).

Last Year: 10-4, lost to Montpelier in state semifinals.

League: Vermont Division II, Marble Valley League.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Sophie Leiter, Lizzy Miller. Juniors — Amelia Sheppard, Kathleen Sheppard, Marissa Farbman.

Who’s New: Freshmen — Morgan Hartman, Emma King, Elise Heschardt, Haley Usilton, Lauren Ross, Monica Devine.

Who’s Gone: Camille Ertel, Sara Callender.

Strengths: Strong in singles.

Weaknesses: Young at doubles.

Toughest Opponents: “All teams will give someone in our lineup a tough match.”

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We will focus on getting home court for the playoffs and work hard to get the team ready for every match.”

Boys

Hanover

Coach: Mark Lewis (4).

Last Year: 15-1, lost to Bedford in state finals, 5-4.

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Who’s Back: Senior — Christian Mueller, Ziqi Zhang, Brendan Barth. Junior — Jeffrey Li. Sophomores — Richard Qiu, Jackson Greenspan.

Who’s New: Juniors — Isaac Davis, Miles Campbell. Freshmen — Kotaro Horiuchi, Henry Pletcher, Graham Dickson.

Who’s Gone: Nick Ballou, Tornike Shubitidze, Luke Candido, Connor Schon.

Strengths: “We have, by far, the deepest team in the state.”

Weaknesses: “Lots of younger players stepping into major roles.”

Toughest Opponent: Portsmouth.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This is the most talented team I have coached at Hanover. The addition of Kotaro Horiuchi gives us a legitimate No. 1.”

Hartford

Coach: Joe Denny (3).

Last Year: 7-9, lost in first round of playoffs to Union-32.

League: Vermont Division I, Marble Valley League.

Who’s Back: Senior — Zach Kent. Juniors — Evan Brown, Inderjt Singh. Sophomores — Andrew Files, Alex Page.

Who’s New: Freshman — Adam Barr.

Who’s Gone: Miles Latham, Emile Rivat, Hunter Morancy, Christian Dauphinais, Nick Morelli, Noah Rosenzweig, Jason Huang.

Strengths: Good kids, willingness to learn.

Weaknesses: Depth, experience.

Toughest Opponents: Brattleboro, Woodstock.

Kearsarge

Coach: Peter Bianchi (8).

Last Year: 7-7, missed state tournament by one spot in standings.

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Tim Berube, Vinnie Metrano. Juniors — Karver Bosela, Nate Horn. Sophomore — Will Anderson.

Who’s New: Sophomore — Drake Van Kannewurff. Freshmen — Zander Blasingame, Sam Bourcier, Jack Van Etten, Sam Williamson.

Who’s Gone: Skyler Sigua, Tim Mathewson, Joe Cahill.

Strengths: “We have a good mix of experienced and new players.”

Weaknesses: “Losing the people we lost to graduation will force a lot of deep-end-of-the-pool-type of experience, which comes with plenty of growing pains.”

Toughest Opponents: Bow, Gilford, Pelham, Profile.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This year will definitely be classified as a rebuilding year. But with a strong work ethic, we will try to be competitive in all matches we can be.”

Lebanon

Coach: Rich Kelly (8).

Last Year: 13-3, lost to Hanover in state semifinals, 7-2.

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Wyatt Goodwin, Jacob Ryder, Kyle Bellinger. Junior — Nabeel Khan. Sophomores — Max Reed, Jason Lane.

Who’s New: Seniors — Jeff Purdy, Donncha Coyle, Chris Eisener. Junior — Will Sanborn. Sophomore— Sam Ryder.

Who’s Gone: Austin Mansell, Alex Keating, Nick Burns, Tyler Silver, Tim Maurer, Zach Bessette, Jordan Koloski, Sergio Verdery, Robert Ludew, Fritz Maslan, Matt Ryder.

Strengths: “Top of the lineup. Reed at No. 1 and Kahn at No. 2 will rack up many wins.”

Weaknesses: “We are not a deep team. Last year, I had a dozen players who could step into the No. 6 slot and probably win.”

Toughest Opponents: Hanover, Goffstown.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Barring injury, we should again be in the running for a playoff spot.”

Woodstock

Coach: Rob Parker (4).

Last Year: 3-11.

League: Vermont Division I, Marble Valley League.

Who’s Back: Juniors — Nathan Fegard, Brendan Geiger, Alek Beaudoin, Grier Eagan, Ted Morrey, Alex Sheppard.

Who’s New: Senior — Nate Hinson. Junior — Rasmus Eriknaue. Sophomore — David Reed. Freshmen — Ray Kurek, Callum Richie, Trevor VanMeil, Brian Kops.

Who’s Gone: Ben Scheu, Owen Hartman.

Strengths: “Going to be deeper than last year. Some of the guys have improved.”

Weaknesses: “Probably not going to be our year, but we are building for the future.”

Toughest Opponents: Brattleboro, Rutland.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Great group of kids. Really enjoy working with them.”

— Compiled by Valley News correspondent Poody Walsh