2013 High School Girls' Tennis Preview

Stonington's Annika Burgess won the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' tennis tournament singles title last season as a junior and leads a strong group of returnees for the Bears, which have been to seven straight Class S finals.
Stonington's Annika Burgess won the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' tennis tournament singles title last season as a junior and leads a strong group of returnees for the Bears, which have been to seven straight Class S finals. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

ECC Large

EAST LYME

Coach: Laurie Zrenda (8th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Joan Li, Sr. Caroline Costa, Sr. Priti Vage, Sr. Shivani Dandekar, Sr. Rachel Sullivan, Jr. Julia Soklovska, Jr. Shruti Alavala, So. Sophia Shi, So. Melinda Li, So. Katherine Wu.

Top newcomers: Fr. Julie Tan.

Outlook: The Vikings (18-1) were Class M runners-up last year and return singles players Shi, Joan Li and Melinda Li, as well as half of the tandem which won the ECC doubles title in Wu. Joan Li, East Lyme's No. 1 player, was an ECC finalist and earned all-state honors. Zrenda believes the Vikings have the depth to fill in for the graduated seniors and still repeat their successes of 2012.

FITCH

Coach: Todd Higgins (14th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Alyssa Denno, Sr. Haley Savona, Sr. Corey St. Louis, Sr. Aimee Filippetti, Jr. Emma Nelson, Jr. Jinguan Huang, Jr. Lisa Chan, So. Diana Francis.

Top newcomers: Jr. Jingyi Huang, Jr. Bea Asuncion, So. Alanna Dumey, So. Isabella Bean, So. Allaina Porter, So. Janellen Holloway.

Outlook: The Falcons (7-9) return a strong core of singles players led by Denno and also welcome back experienced doubles teams. They expect to challenge for the top spot in the ECC Large.

NEW LONDON

Coach: Leah Ward (21st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Tathiana Jean-Baptiste, Sr. Ashantee Gomez, Sr. Brunilda Kolaj, Jr. Soraya Colon-Millan, So. Lillian James, So. Susane Ortizdevillate.

Outlook: Jean-Baptiste and James will fill the role of the Whalers' top two singles players, while Gomez and Colon-Millan move up from doubles to play singles. This is a tough sport for New London (3-16) to compete with other Large Division teams, but Ward said there are a few newcomers from other sports who should be athletic and she's anxious to see how this team develops.

NFA

Coach: Christine Justice (6th season).

Key returnees: Jillian Stevenson, Kirsten Wesolek, Courtney Majcher, Victoria Majcher, Emily Coon, Angela Flores-Alcalde, Haley Riley, Hannah Coon.

Outlook: With a veteran team, the Wildcats (6-10) are looking to improve on their record from last season and earn a berth in the state tournament. Stevenson will play No. 1 singles and Wesolek and Courtney Majcher will combined at No. 2 doubles.

ECC Medium

LEDYARD

Coach: Bill Merrill (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. Madison Blask, Sr. Mandy Wong, Sr. Jordon Bierman, Sr. Ally Campbell, Jr. Paige Vetrano.

Top newcomers: Jr. Tess Candler, Jr. Livy Jones, So. Gracie Brickner, Fr. Olivia Lyons, Fr. Megan Brawer.

Outlook: Blask is the lone returning starter for the Colonels, but they still have some experienced players. Veterans Bierman and Wong will fill spots at singles, as will Lyons, a freshman. Ledyard looks to be competitive this season and, with just three seniors, the future as well.

STONINGTON

Coach: George Crouse (26th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Annika Burgess, Sr. Chloe Slater, Sr. Mollie Kam, Sr. Emily Buxton, So. Caroline Kam, So. Hannah Fabianski, So. Meg Rolfe, So. Emily Gardner, So. Taylor Startz, So. Gina Feliciano.

Top newcomers: Sr. Audrey Jones, Sr. Lucy Schlink, Sr. Lindsay Gimple, Jr. Sammi Shroyer, So. Jen Carroll, So. Morgan Parrilla, Fr. Claire Morehouse.

Outlook: Stonington (19-1) has been to seven straight state championship matches and eight in the last 12 years and would like to maintain that standard. They have the potential, too, returning ECC singles champion Annika Burgess and runner-up Chloe Slater, both undefeated during the regular season, as well as a complement of other players. After an undefeated regular season a year ago, however, the Bears will be tested early in 2013, meeting East Lyme on Friday in a matchup between two teams which reached their respective state finals a year ago.

WATERFORD

Coach: Larry Potter (11th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Nora Sullivan, Sr. Lily O'Hara, Sr. Jess Li, Jr. Lexi Moger, Jr. Phoebe Lee, So. Nisha Rajamohan, So. Lauren Rahr, So. Jessie Hudson, So. Katie Lewis.

Top newcomers: So. Francisca Secor.

Outlook: The Lancers return seven starters from a team which went 14-6 and finished in second place in the Medium Division last season. There are holes at No. 1 singles (Evelyn Luner) and No. 1 doubles (Casey Corrado and Katie Hudson) due to graduation, but Rajamohan was an ECC honorable mention selection at singles and will move up the ladder.

ECC Small

MONTVILLE

Coach: Ted LaFemina (5th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Hannah Houser, Sr. Lexi Severino, Jr. Kenzie Savage, So. Mia Ferguson, So. Jennifer Hester, So. Helena Sun, So. Emily Dodson, Jr. Kenzie Savage, Jr. Martha Mena.

Top newcomers: Jr. Hannah Keyen, So. Meagan McAdams.

Outlook: Montville, laden with freshmen, didn't win a match last year. LaFemina calls this a "new look." "Although last year proved to be a difficult one, the experience gained was most valuable," LaFemina said. "With the majority of the team coming back and skills improved, a winning season is not out of the question." Hester is the Indians' No. 1 singles player.

ST. BERNARD

Coach: Jennifer Feldman (9th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Emily Patten, Sr. Grace Kilpatrick, Sr. Julia Scott, Sr. Julie Engel, Jr. Alexa Massad, So. Kathryn McKinley, So. Andrea He, So. Audrey Jones.

Top newcomers: Jr. Brittney Walenta, So. Kaitlyn Berkel.

Outlook: It will be a rebuilding year for the Saints, who lost three of their top four singles players and No. 1 doubles duo from a team which went 11-5 and qualified for the state tournament. Feldman is focusing on improvement and remaining optimistic.

Others

GRASSO TECH

Coach: Matthew Zagura (2nd season).

Key returnees: Kylynn Washington, Casey Mercado.

Top newcomers: Luz Vasquez.

Outlook: Returning five of their top seven players, the Eagles are confident about making a strong showing in the Constitution State Conference. Zagura is pleased with the team's work ethic.

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