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High School Tennis Preview: Hanover Girls Eye Three-Peat

  • Hanover's Izzi Davis. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

  • Lebanon's Fatima Khan volleys a shot during a doubles match with Colin Mower and Tony Pilotte of Goffstown at the CCBA in Lebanon, N.H. Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Khan and her partner Erik Spaulding won the match 8 - 3. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Woodstock's Ray Kurek. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Published: 4/21/2016 11:44:25 PM
Modified: 4/21/2016 11:44:34 PM

The Hanover High girls tennis team gathered last spring, fully aware it had lost four seniors from its undefeated state championship campaign from the year before. Then the Marauders went out and ran the table for a second straight NHIAA Division II title.

Can’t get better than that, right?

Riding a 34-match winning streak to open 2016, Hanover’s primary goal is to keep on keepin’ on. All five girls returning from last spring’s championship squad saw significant playing time in 2015, and that’s a fine foundation on which second-year coach Elizabeth Murray can build.

Beyond that, all five still have at least one more year of high school eligibility beyond this season — in other words, the Marauders could only just be starting a dynasty.

For a second straight season, the Upper Valley has lost one of its girls programs. One spring after Hartford went co-ed because of a lack of female participation, the same fate has fallen upon Lebanon. That leaves just three schools (Hanover, Stevens, Woodstock) supporting standalone girls teams.

The Raiders lost a major factor in Max Reed, now a member of the Penn men’s squash team, in their first-ever run to the NHIAA Division II finals. Lebanon came up one point short in the title tilt to Portsmouth; the Raiders return a lot of talent, but must get used to the notion of not having an automatic point at the top of the singles and doubles ladder.

A look at this year’s squads:

Girls Hanover

Coach: Elizabeth Murray (2).

Last Year: 17-0, won second straight state championship.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Juniors — Rine Uhm, Margaret Werner, Izzi Davis. Sophomores — Mindy Wu, Ellen Lamm.

Newcomers: Seniors — Emma Riessen, Marion Miller. Sophomores — Bri Laycock, Grace Li. Freshman — Emma Watson.

Analysis: Although the Marauders saw four members of last year’s state championship team graduate, they have plenty of skill in reserve. It’s a good start for a team looking to be the first to post back-to-back-to-back titles since Souhegan in 2002-04. “We are looking forward to a great season with a new mix of players,” Murray said. “We have a strong core in our top six singles players and a dynamic group of doubles players. Our No. 1 and 2 are returning from last year and will provide great leadership.”


Coach: Karen Cullison (8).

Last Year: 3-10, missed state tournament.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Hannah Scott, Rebecca Menard, Alaina Bandanza, Brianna Aldrich. Juniors — Cameron Cullison, Rebecca Moody, Alexis Parliman, Carly Reynolds. Sophomore — Julia Maki.

Newcomers: Senior — Julia Valgas. Junior — Kate Thedford. Sophomores — Mariah Lawerence, Chloe Nueser. Freshman — Drasti Patel.

Analysis: Cullison coached the Cardinals for only part of last year, so some time might be required to rebuild relationships first. Beyond that, Stevens will have its work cut out when it comes to qualifying for states; Division III only takes eight of its 16 teams. On the plus side, a roster of 13 indicates the Cards don’t have as much of a numbers concern as in past seasons.


Coach: Tom Hopewell (18).

Last Year: 10-5, lost in semifinals to Montpelier.

Leagues: Marble Valley League, VPA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Morgan Hartman, Elise Geschardt, Emma King, Haley Usilton. Junior — Sarah Findseisen. Sophomore — Grace Frazier.

Newcomers: Senior — Emily Haynes. Freshmen — Morgan Mackenzie-Biele, Chloe Nobel, Katey MacMaster, Emily Haynes, Natalie Haimovitz, Savannah Carr, Maggie Burns.

Analysis: The Wasps lack nothing in terms of numbers and experienced coaching. What they could most use is a way past the school that has flummoxed them most in recent postseasons. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can get over Montpelier, even though we have lost to them six years in a row,” Hopewell said. “We have lots of dedicated players, some playing competitive tennis all year round.”

Boys Hanover

Coach: Jarrod Shaheen (2).

Last Year; 7-8, lost in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Graham Dickson, Calvin Anthony-Duscheid, Frank Johnson, Marco Perry. Juniors — Benny Gantrish, John He, Will Bonner. Sophomore — Marty Siegel.

Newcomers: Sophomores — Jasper Meyer, Duolan Guo. Freshmen — Aidan Biglow, Suhan Gui.

Analysis: The Marauders made the jump to D-I last year in search of tougher competition and found it. Much of last year’s roster returns with a deeper tournament run in mind. “Our coaching staff expects our players to work hard all season in order to compete at a high level,” Shaheen said. “It is going to be another very exciting year for Hanover boys tennis. ”


Coach: Iris Berezin (32).

Last Year: 4-11, missed state tournament.

Leagues: Marble Valley League, VPA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Hunter Brooks, Christine Miller, Danny Nguyen, Ashazi Shakur. Juniors — Naiomi Hematillake, Spencer Rugg.

Newcomers: Junior — Gabriella Miller. Sophomores — Patrick Brady, Riley Kehoe. Freshman — Ethan Sneddon.

Analysis: The Hurricanes will play as a co-ed team for the second straight spring, having too few girls for their own squad. A similar roster narrowly missed the 16-team D-I tournament last year, giving Hartford hope for 2016. “The team runs the gamut from experienced players to those who are picking up a racket for the first time and everything in between,” Berezin said. “They are enthusiastic, eager to learn and focused on qualifying for the playoffs.”


Coach: Michael Haxton (2).

Last Year; 15-2, lost in state finals to Portsmouth, 5-4, with three matches going to tiebreakers.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Juniors — Terran Campbell, Jacob Peress, Noah Didehbani, Noah Ryder. Sophomores — Ben Ask, Owen Johnstone.

Newcomers: Senior — Nick Haidari. Sophomores — Fatima Khan, Brodie McPherson, Erik Spaulding. Freshman — Lasse Bisp.

Analysis: As with Hartford, Lebanon is now a co-ed team, having lost the girls program to a lack of participants. That should add depth for the Raiders, who made a historic run to their first state championship match last spring and nearly came home with the hardware. “Last year, we were pretty much guaranteed two points with Max Reed in the lineup, and this year everyone from a year ago will be playing up at least one position,” Haxton said. “We are still a young team, but I like the way our practices have been going.”


Coach: David Miles (2).

Last Year: 5-10, lost in first round to eventual state champion South Burlington.

Leagues: Marble Valley League, VPA Division I.

Returneees: Seniors — Ray Kurek, Bryan Kopf. Junior — Kyle Rasmussen. Sophomores — Gardner Gottshegen, Justin Kopf.

Newcomers: Sophomores — Eathan Earl, Brendan Schwartz. Freshmen — Oliver Wilson, Peter Borden, Teddy Krawczyk.

Analysis: Miles has a youthful roster and plans to make the most of it. “Like last year, we are green and young, but we are a hard-working, energetic group that is really eager to learn,” Miles said. “We hope to qualify for the playoffs again and look for a better seed at the same time.”

Valley News correspondent Poody Walsh and sports editor Greg Fennell contributed to this report.

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