2014 High School Tennis Preview

Nick Zuczek returns to St. Bernard School for his junior season. He was the runner-up in the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' tennis tournament last season.
Nick Zuczek returns to St. Bernard School for his junior season. He was the runner-up in the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' tennis tournament last season. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

BOYS

ECC Large

East Lyme

Coach: Susan Welshock (6th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Ben Biondi, Sr. Matt Chan, Sr. Matt Lin, Sr. Unni Kurumbail, Jr. Nick Hotary, Jr. Nipun Hewage.

Top newcomers: Sr. Kevin Lei, Jr. Shahan Kamal, Jr. Sujay Alavala, So. Mukesh Kurumbail, Fr. Eric Wu, Fr. Matei Coiculescu.

Outlook: East Lyme was 15-1 overall, 8-0 to win the ECC Large Division and the Vikings yielded the league tournament's singles and doubles champions. Doubles champs Hewage and Chan return, leading a list of six returnees who hope to keep East Lyme on top. Hotary was also an All-ECC selection, while Biondi made the ECC tournament semifinals as the No. 29 seed.

Fitch

Coach: Matthew Brown (2nd season).

Key returnees: Sr. Jesse Moroyoqui, Jr. Jacob Kowalski, Jr. William Baldwin, Sr. Jim Lin, Jr. Matt Pastor.

Top newcomers: Jr. Kush Kumar, Jr. Bennett Tiesinga, Fr. Shiloh Feldmon, Jr. Finian O'Connor, Jr. Kevin Ryan.

Outlook: The Falcons (11-5) graduated some key varsity performers, but have enough talent and experience to be competitive in the division. Moroyoqui moves into the No. 1 singles spot, Kowalski and Baldwin will play Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Pastor will be joined by newcomer Tiesinga to form the No. 1 doubles team.

Ledyard

Coach: Jason Bazinet (11th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Zach Higgins, Jr. Jack Potter, Sr. Brian Healy, Sr. Albert Miller, Sr. David Allen, Jr. Jake Skilbred, Jr. Ben McHale, Jr. Nick Wycoff, Jr. Kenny Zhang.

Top newcomers: Fr. Chris West.

Outlook: The Colonels (6-8), formerly a member of the ECC Medium Division, should be strong this season with experience and senior leadership up and down the lineup as they try to contend for the Large Division title. Skilbred and McHale, Ledyard's No. 1 doubles team, were an all-league tandem last year.

NFA

Coach: Tom Rolfe (5th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Alex Frost.

Top newcomers: Fr. Austin Pegram.

Outlook: The Wildcats (7-7) are rebuilding after losing their top two singles players from a year ago. Frost takes over the No. 1 singles spot and Rolfe is high on Pegram, now the No. 2 singles player. This is a young team with eight freshmen and four sophomores in the program.

ECC Medium

New London

Coach: Chris Vamvakides (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Wessam Hoda, Sr. Deyvon Verdini, Sr. Zavier Veliz, So. Bahaa Hoda.

Outlook: Vamvakides takes over the Whalers and will rely on his senior experience to keep New London competitive in an always strong Medium Division. New London (3-15) makes the move from the Large Division.

Stonington

Coach: Jennifer Phaiah (5th season).

Key returnees: Jr. Avery Oefinger, Jr. Alan Carroll, Sr. Doug Schweid, So. Mitchell Edwards, Jr. Avish Patel, Sr. John Dong, So. Ryan Sealey.

Top newcomers: So. Chris Tsang, Jr. Tristan Blair, Jr. Eric Gimple.

Outlook: The Bears (11-4) did lose No. 1 singles player and All-ECC honoree John Skogerboe to graduation, so there will be some players in new positions this season. But Stonington does have experience and depth so once Phaiah settles on a lineup the Bears will be a factor in the division.

Waterford

Coach: Ralph DiSaia (12th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Alan Luner, Sr. Shashwat Kala, Jr. Willie Dong.

Top Newcomer: Sr. Benny Dong, Sr. Adam Howard.

Outlook: The Lancers, who went 8-0 to capture the ECC Medium, did lose the strong doubles team of Tucker Murphy-Bret Pias to graduation. Luna, Kala and Willie Dong are the top three singles players, however, and DiSaia expects Waterford (15-1) to have another strong season and be a factor in the division once again.

ECC Small

St. Bernard

Coach: Tim Kolnaski (3rd season).

Key returnees: Sr. Chris Renaud, Jr. Nick Zuczek.

Top newcomers: Fr. Alex Zuczek.

Outlook: The Saints return their top two singles players in Nick Zuczek, the ECC tournament singles runner-up last season, and Renaud, and there are 18 players in the program, the most in Kolnaski's coaching tenure. St. Bernard (8-7) will have new doubles teams, but there is plenty of talent and Kolnaski is curious to see how the team grows.

Others

Old Lyme

Coach: John Pfeiffer.

Key returnees: Sr. Josh Krasney, Jr. Luke Grabowski, Jr. Eric Pan, Jr. Brian Buttrick, So. Brendan White, So. Ethan Fenton, So. Charlie Dahlkie, So. Jason Feng.

Top newcomers: Jr. Rowan Hallahan, So. Austin Pilgrim.

Outlook: Morgan White, the Shoreline Conference singles champion, graduated, leaving his younger brother Brendan as the new No. 1 singles player as a sophomore. With a nice blend of youth and experience, the Wildcats should remain in the upper echelon of the conference.

Williams

Coach: Monique Foster (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Josh Powell, Sr. Adam Verhoeff, Sr. Rudy Harvey, Sr. Hunt Welch, Sr. Victoria Ferrigno, Sr. Juli Brown.

Top newcomers: Sr. Jack Shannon, Fr. Jon Powell.

Outlook: Jon Powell, despite being a freshman, begins the season as the Blues' No. 1 singles player and Foster has a talented, experience group. Williams lost only two matches last season and another strong year is anticipated.

GIRLS

ECC Large

East Lyme

Coach: Laurie Zrenda (9th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Shruti Alavala, Jr. Sophia Shi, Jr. Melinda Li, Jr. Katherine Wu, So. Julie Tan.

Top newcomers: Sr. Jenny Tang, Jr. Aimee Cicchiello, Jr. Sejal Patel, Jr. Elisa Crane, Fr. Berkeley Callaghan, Fr. Kelly Peterec, Lisa Gao.

Outlook: The defending Large Division champs did lose ECC singles champion Joan Li to graduation, but Shi, Melinda Li and Wu were all ECC all-stars and the Vikings (13-5, 8-0) remain the team to beat. Shi is the No. 1 singles player this season, but the development of doubles teams will determine how deep of a run East Lyme will make in the state tournament.

Fitch

Coach: Todd Higgins (15th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Emma Nelson, Sr. Jingxuan Huang, Sr. Jingyi Huang, Sr. Bea Asuncion, Sr. Alana Dumey, Jr. Diana Francis, Jr. Isabella Bean.

Top newcomers: Fr. Laura Krick, Fr. Lillian Leger, Fr. Kailey Sullivan.

Outlook: The Falcons (10-7) have three experienced doubles teams, including the All-ECC pair of Nelson and Huang, but will rely on three freshmen in the singles spots along with Francis. Higgins said the newcomers are young, but talented and as they gain experience they should make Fitch a challenger for division honors.

Ledyard

Coach: Mark Blask (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Mandy Wong, Sr. Paige Vetrano, Sr. Olivia Jones, Sr. Sarah Baron, Sr. Jenna Bennett, Jr. Tess Candler, So. Olivia Lyon.

Top newcomers: Jr. Katie Majewski.

Outlook: Blask takes over for the Colonels, who move up to the Large Division this season. Ledyard (7-8) was a young team last season, but Blask believes the experience gained will begin to pay dividends this spring. Wong and Lyon are battling for the No. 1 singles spot and Majewski will make an impact in her first season, too.

NFA

Coach: Kim Brennan (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Tori Majcher, Jr. Hannah Coon, So. Kristina Jacobs, So. Lauren Jacobs.

Top newcomers: So. Nicole Kolodziejczak, Fr. Kai Chen.

Outlook: Brennan is NFA's new leader and thinks a winning season is within reach despite some huge graduation losses. Majcher and Coon will play doubles for the Wildcats (4-10), both Jacobs are doubles players and Brennan really likes the work ethic of her team.

ECC Medium

New London

Coach: Leah Ward (25th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Ladylanis Grullon, Jr. Susane Ortizdevillate, Jr. Lillian James, So. Yesha Patel, So. Janki Patel.

Top newcomers: Jr. Tsering Buti.

Outlook: The Whalers (2-16) have some experience, but still have the potential to struggle in a difficult division that includes reigning Class S champion Stonington and always strong Waterford. Ward does expect her team to improve and be more competitive as the season progresses, making the move from the Large Division.

Stonington

Coach: George Crouse (28th season).

Key returnees: Jr. Hannah Fabianski, Jr. Taylor Startz, Jr. Gina Feliciano, Jr. Emily Gardiner, Jr. Jen Carroll, Jr. Morgan Parrilla.

Top newcomers: Sr. Chelsea Alfonso, Jr. Julie Fabrykiewicz, Jr. Michaela Mahar, Jr. Bri Jones, So. Malloy McCardle, So. Claire Morehouse.

Outlook: After knocking on the door for so many years, the Bears finally won that elusive Class S state championship a year ago. They were decimated by graduation losses, but still remain a threat to win the division and do well at the state level. Fabianski moves into the No. 1 singles spot while Feliciano and Gardiner, doubles players a year ago, will play singles this season. They also have a talented doubles team in Carroll and Parrilla. Stonington finished 19-0 last season, beating Weston for the state title on May 31 at Yale.

Waterford

Coach: Robert Schlink (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. Lexi Moger, Sr. Phoebe Lee, Sr. Alyssa Serafino, Sr. Nizida Acharte, Sr. Kayle Thurlow, Sr. Tarylnn Tone-Pah-Hote, Jr. Nisha Rajamohan, Jr. Lauren Rahr, Jr. Francisica Secor, Jr. Katie Lewis, Jr. Jessica Hudson.

Top newcomers: So. Jessica Harpell, Fr. Alania Moger, Fr. Sophie Impellitteri, Fr. Sarah Verity, Fr. Tessa Dipallina.

Outlook: Schlink, a 2005 Waterford graduate, replaces Larry Potter, who retired after the 2013 season. The Lancers (17-3, Class M semifinal berth) should challenge Stonington for the division title with experience up and down the lineup. Rajamohan, an All-ECC selection, is the No. 1 singles player, while Lewis and Hudson are the No. 1 doubles team, finishing as ECC tournament runners-up last year.

Small Division

Montville

Coach: Ted LaFemina (6th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Martha Mena, Jr. Meagan McAdams, Jr. Jennifer Hester, Jr. Lara Huapaya, Jr. Mia Ferguson.

Outlook: The Indians (7-8), who return only five players, will be rebuilding this spring, but LaFemina has 11 new athletes so the future is bright. He has seen tremendous improvement in just a few short weeks and said his players "are determined" to do well in the ECC and qualify for the Class S state tournament.

St. Bernard

Coach: Jennifer Feldman (10th season).

Key returnees: Sr. Alexa Massad, Sr. Brittney Walenta, Sr. Jessica Xu, Jr. Kathryn McKinley, Jr. Shannon Forrester, Jr. Andrea He, Jr. Audrey Jones, Jr. Elizabeth Jezierski, So. Marissa Fratoni.

Top newcomers: Jr. Madeleine Mahoney, Fr. Michaela Abate, Fr. Wendy Bessette, Fr. Anna McKinley, Fr. Katherine Matthews.

Outlook: The Saints (6-9) were young a year ago and gained some valuable experience that Feldman expects will make them contenders in the division. St. Bernard has great competition for a number of positions and some promising newcomers are also pushing the older players for varsity spots. McKinley earned a spot on the All-ECC team last season.

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: Matthew Zagura (3rd season).

Key returnees: Samantha Foular, Brook Flynn, Amber Dickinson, Alicia Martin.

Top newcomers: Anybelka Nunez, CoryAnn Colechia.

Outlook: The Eagles lost four of their top five players to graduation, so Zagura will lean on his experienced players to play key roles, although he still expects big contributions from his newcomers.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Emily Hayes (4th season).

Key returnees: Olivia Kenyon, Emily Kivela, Hannah Tracey, Heather Wilson, Hannah Holloway, Phoebe Joiner, Lauren Veile.

Outlook: Hayes believes the Warriors have a chance to qualify for the Class S state tournament. Kenyon moves into the No. 1 singles spot and Hayes likes the development of Kivela in singles, too. Tracey and Wilson take over the No. 1 doubles spot and Norwich Tech has 13 new players in the program.

Old Lyme

Coach: Tracy Lenz (1st season).

Key returnees: Jr. Meredith Aird, Sr. Meghan Traush, Sr. Mikayla Bellaria, Jr. Hannah O'Brien, Sr. Lauren Romeo, Jr. Noel Brown, Jr. Cooper Kotzan.

Top newcomers: Sr. Hannah Behringer, Jr. Holly Fiscus, Fr. Marissa Smith, Fr. Sophie Warlitz.

Outlook: The Wildcats are always a factor in the Shoreline Conference, and this year should be no exception with a nice blend of experience and young. Lenz, in her first season, is still juggling her lineup with a new group of singles players, led by No. 1 Aird, and all three doubles teams are new.

Hide Comments

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments