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2019 Upper Valley high school tennis preview

  • Lebanon tennis player Emerson Sleeper reaches to return a volley against Monadnock's Kindyl Alfonso during their her No. 3 singles match in Lebanon, N.H., on April 1, 2019. Lebanon won, 8-1. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Kaeli Skakalski speaks with head coach Rob Johnstone after winning her No. 4 singles match against Monadnock's Kendra Lang in Lebanon, N.H., on April 1, 2019. Lebanon won, 8-1. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Sunday, April 14, 2019

Spring has finally sprung, and so have the area’s tennis players after a long winter of waiting.

There is plenty to look forward to this season. The Woodstock girls will be shooting for their third straight Vermont Division II title. Hanover’s boys and girls are hoping to make it to the state championships after defeats in last year’s NHIAA Division I semifinals. The Lebanon boys have a similar goal as well, except they hope to advance past the NHIAA D-II quarterfinals.

Many teams have reason to be upbeat about the new season. Iris Berezin, Hartford’s longtime girls and boys coach, is happy to have both teams return to varsity status after not having enough players for a team last season. Lebanon’s girls also received a great turnout of 19 players despite last year’s record of 2-12. Coach Rob Johnstone said that they “hope to win a few along the way, and to have fun and get better as the season progresses.”

Woodstock’s boys also received plenty of interest, with 18 kids coming out to play. Coach Dave Miles appreciates seeing the older, more experienced players help coach the newcomers.

Whether the players are in it for the winning or simply the experience, the coaches appreciate their enthusiasm, which ensures promising seasons all around.

Here’s a capsule look at the teams:

BOYS Hanover

Coach: Jarrod Shaheen (five years).

Last year: 14-2, lost in semifinals.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Aidan Biglow, Gary Li. Juniors — Will Blinkhorn, Matt Bonner, Andrew Enelow, Chris Lee, Alec McDevitt, Tristan Meyer, Trevor Siegel, Will Tarnowski.

Newcomers: Freshmen — Kevin Pillsbury, Alex Rockmore, Evan Yang.

Analysis: “Talent we are not lacking this season,” Shaheen said. “The returnees, as well as the newcomers, are all strong tennis players who are starting the season in as good of shape as they ever have. The key this season will be whether or not we can put everything together and play all-in through June.”

Hartford

Coach: Iris Berezin (34).

Last year: No varsity schedule.

Leagues: VPA Division I, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Senior — Ethan Sneddon. Junior — Nick Jones. Sophomore — Bikramjit Singh.

Newcomers: Juniors — Andrew St. Martin, Matthew Zietz. Freshmen — Ethan Michaels, Josh Asis.

Analysis: Hartford is returning to varsity status following several years of not being able to field a team. The team lacks varsity match play experience, but the returning players and newcomers are developing the skills necessary to be competitive on the courts. With only one senior, the Hurricanes are building a foundation for the future.

Lebanon

Coach: Michael Haxton (5).

Last year: 9-4, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Juniors — Nate Magari, Roneet Arora, Eric Gessner. Sophomores — Seamus Hickey, Tyler St. Martin, Jory Ballard.

Newcomers: Freshmen — Mason Arado, Kian Schifferdecker, Seth Carl.

Analysis: “We are a young team and will face some tough competition this year,” Haxton said. “Along with last year’s state champion (Souhegan) and runner-up (Hollis Brookline), we also will face division III state champion Bow along with playing Portsmouth twice this year and a few new schools we have not played before, like Kennett and Kingswood. As long as we keep trying to get better each week, we will be a team that should make the playoffs. And then it is just a matter of how far we go in the playoffs.”

Woodstock

Coach: Dave Miles (5).

Last year: 5-7, lost in tournament first round to U-32.

Leagues: VPA Division I, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Senior — Oliver Wilson. Juniors — Sam Powers, Carl Gebhardt, Henry Greene, Blake Heston, Gabe Bango, Carl MacGowan, Asa Gaddis. Sophomores — Danny Drebber, Noah Anderson.

Newcomers: Freshman — Cooper Dorsogna, Kip Gaddis, Ian Goldberg, Max Hambsch, Evan Joaquin, Nixon Malik, Otto Nisimblat, Nate Satterfield.

Analysis: “With 18 players, it’s the largest squad in years, decades even,” Miles said. “Four singles players return, and I feel we have good depth in doubles, too. Great group of boys, with the experienced players helping to coach the newcomers. I would like to finish with a winning record and win at least one playoff round.”

GIRLS Hanover

Coach: Liz Murray (5).

Last year: 12-4, lost in semi-finals to Bedford.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Returnees: Senior — Emma Watson. Junior — Marti Zentmaier. Sophomores — Carly Miles, Bella Malo.

Newcomers: Juniors — Emma Marks, Faith Marshall, Amelia Wallis, Abigail Wilson, Liz Rightmire. Sophomore — Lyric Wilson. Freshmen — Eleanor van Aalst, Brooke Voelker, Anna Testorf.

Analysis: “We have a lot of new players added to the varsity program this year and are looking forward to building ourselves as a team,” said Murray, who lost six to graduation last June. “There is strong power with our freshmen and solid playing throughout the lineup. It has been great to see the formation of our doubles teams and the combined strength with our doubles pairings.”

Hartford

Coach: Iris Berezin (34).

Last year: Did not play a full varsity schedule.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Senior — Hannah Eastridge. Junior — Abigail Koff. Sophomores — Jessica Davis, Nykrisha Jenks.

Newcomers: Junior — Kylie Clark. Sophomores — Logan Haley, Katie Tromblay. Freshmen — Holly Moore, Phelan O’Keefe.

Analysis: Hartford is returning to full varsity status following several years of not being able to field a team. The Hurricanes will face the competition with a combination of players who have tournament experience and others eager to develop their skills. With only one senior, the future looks bright for the Canes.

Lebanon

Coaches: Rob Johnstone (3) and Matt Dancosse (2).

Last year: 2-12, missed state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Emerson Sleeper, Lexi Zagarola. Juniors — Molly Neu, Misia Delgado, Zola Campbell, Caitlin McHugh, Audrey Perotti. Sophomores — Grace Perotti, Kaeley Skakalski, Jill Anderson, Nicole Boisvert.

Newcomers: Juniors — Olivia Lammert, Jenna Spaulding, Pratha Rawal, Marissa Hebert. Sophomores — Madison Test, Ayla Pearson, Katrina Roberge. Freshman — Crisi Patel.

Analysis: “We have 19 girls out for the team this year,” said Johnstone, who will largely handle the Raiders’ home matches, with Dancosse doing the traveling. “Many have very little experience playing tennis, but they are eager to improve and have been enthusiastic in practice sessions. We hope to win a few along the way and to have fun and get better as the season progresses.”

Stevens

Coach: Gary Cullison (1).

Last year: 2-11, missed state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Juniors — Cally Barrette, Clara Avery, Fallon Lavertue, Kaleigh Adams. Sophomores — Autumn Bragg, Hannah Lembree, Annika Ratcliffe.

Newcomers: Junior — Kaitlin Cox. Sophomores — Elizabeth Abbott, Quinn McCaffrey. Freshman — Riley Murphy, Lauren Fellows.

Analysis: “We hope to help all our girls build the foundation to become much stronger tennis players and to continue making our team more competitive,” Cullison said.

Woodstock

Coach: Tom Hopewell (21).

Last year: 17-0, beat Harwood for second straight state championship.

Leagues: VPA Division II, Marble Valley League.

Returnees: Seniors — Momo Biele, Katey McMaster, Kenzie Biele, Chloe Noble. Juniors — Lydia Howe, Olivia Marsicovetere, Julianne Beraldie.

Newcomers: Seniors — Terney Dugan, Natalie Strayton. Sophomores — Lily Holding, Maggie Rice.

Analysis: Among top players from last year’s roster, the Wasps lost only lefty Grace Frazier to graduation. That leaves a lot of experience returning for a three-peat attempt. Howe and Marsicovetere get a crack at singles play after going undefeated as a doubles tandem last year. Momo Biele, McMaster and Beraldie will likely fill out the singles slots. Kenzie Biele and Noble have been reunited at doubles (they were partners as freshmen).

“I have really not seen a better top-to-bottom squad,” Hopewell noted. “For those who can focus and stay aggressive when the pressure is on, we’ll get to see some great tennis. At this level of play, it’s about where you hit the ball, not just how you hit it. Good to great is a leap not all can achieve, but we are so ready to launch.”