2019 H.S. girls' tennis preview capsules
ECC DIVISION I
Coach: Laurie Zrenda (14th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Shauna Kim, Sr. Mary Kathryn Taylor, Sr. Emily Zhu, Sr. Grace Foltz, Sr. Sophie Arustei, Sr. Hanna Scott, Jr. Elizabeth Beaulieu, Jr. Beca Paggioli, Jr. Sophia Rogers, So. Caroline French, So. Alissa Li, So. Ella Arustei.
Top newcomers: Fr. Yurina Shirai, Fr. Ritish Ande.
Outlook: The Vikings went unbeaten to win the ECC Division I title, reached the Class M quarterfinals and finished 11-3 overall. They are hoping to defend their title, but will be pushed by the addition of Division II champ Stonington, who joins the revamped Division I along with Fitch and Woodstock. Kim was an ECC all-star last year and leads a team with plenty of experience and depth.
Coach: Todd Higgins (20th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Samantha Cote, Sr. Sneha Kumar, Jr. Graysen Scherer, Jr. Kavita Srirangam, Sr. Charlina Holloway, So. Haley Rodgers, So. Hayden Kowalski, So. Fiona Kennedy, Sr. Mae Flax, Sr. Nyseanah Ishmael, Sr. Caroline Garrett.
Top newcomers: Jr. Maddie Lynch, So. Ariana Timmerman, So. Ella Tiesinga, So. Gabriella Garcia Patel, Fr. Lily Cartier.
Outlook: Cote and Kumar are returning ECC all-stars who will lead an experienced Fitch team that has most of its lineup back after finishing 9-6 and winning its opening match in the Class M state tournament. Cote was also selected to The Day's All-Area team. Higgins expects the Falcons to be right in the mix of a competitive division.
Coach: George Crouse (32nd season)
Key returnees: Sr. Gabby Dellacono, Sr. Ainsley Johnstone, Sr. Holly Foster, Sr. Cassie Onorato, Jr. Alison Marseglia, So. Amelia Caron.
Top newcomers: Jr. Sydney Motherway, Fr. Maddie Hamm, Fr. Chloe Morehouse, Fr. Grace Milne, Fr. Katie Johnstone, Fr. Erin Motherway, Fr. Mia Lewandowski.
Outlook: Defending State Open champion Gabby Dellacono will have a "delayed start" to the season, according to Crouse, meaning the Bears will commence the season without seven of their 10 starters from last year's team and six freshmen vying for five lineup spots. Filling in at No. 1 singles is freshman Maddie Hamm, although Crouse said his players are still competing in challenge matches. Johnstone, half of the team which won the ECC doubles championship a year ago, moves up to play singles. Dellacono, who will attend Division I Brown, is the three-time ECC singles champion. Stonington (18-2) was the Class S runner-up last season.
ECC DIVISION II
Coach: Scott Woodruff (1st season)
Key returnees: So. Abby DiRico, Jr. Lilia Burdo, Jr. Marissa Howard, So. Bianca Planeta.
Top newcomer: Jr. Alexis Stehle.
Outlook: The Colonels went 7-7 during the regular season in 2018, but graduated the bulk of their starting lineup, leaving Woodruff with a young team that must rebuild. Woodruff said players that earned varsity experience in doubles last year will get the chance to compete in singles this season as Ledyard moves down to the new Division II with New London, St. Bernard, Waterford and Killingly.
Coach: Leah Ward
Key returnees: Jr. Cassandra Cannon, Jr. Keren Gabriel, Jr. Francisca Ledoux, Jr. Luisanny Castillo, Jr. Tajzay Green, Sr. Marnaysha Jean-Francois.
Outlook: The Whalers did suffer some key graduation losses from last year's 6-9 team, but Ward is excited by the enthusiasm brought by a strong junior class, which spent the winter working with help from the tennis community at Lyme Shores Tennis and Conditioning Center. Cannon, Gabriel, Ledoux and Castillo will be factors in singles while Green and Jean-Francois will lead a large group of newcomers in doubles.
Coach: Wes Woolworth (3rd season)
Key returnees: Jr. Lauren O'Donnell, Sr. Kaila Sprecace, Jr. Amber Caldwell, Sr. Nicole Lawton.
Top newcomers: Fr. Julia Ferris, Fr. Olivia Busher, So. Jennifer Shing.
Outlook: The Saints have a young team, but Woolworth thinks his mix of veterans and newcomers will make St. Bernard competitive within the division. "Our team loves tennis and show up to every practice," he said. "We can't wait to compete in the ECC."
Coach: Ed Kolnaski (4th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Mickey Green, Jr. Hayley Wheeler, So. Ally Silva, So. Nidhi Somineni, So. Nitya Somineni.
Top newcomers: Fr. Autumn Brothers, Sr. Anika Jannatul, Sr. Angels Dielli, Sr. Mia Carfi, So. Jennifer Leblanc, Jr. Kasey Kirchoff.
Outlook: Sophie Wang, a member of The Day's All-Area team, was the biggest loss from a team that went 9-8 and reached the Class M tournament. Kolnaski said there has plenty of competition during the preseason for varsity spots. "We're playing a lot of players a new positions," he said, "but we have a solid group from top to bottom."
ECC DIVISION III
Coach: Ted LaFemina (10th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Rachel Liang, Sr. Linda Chen, Jr. Layla Wu.
Top newcomers: Sr. Melody Sopczak, Jr. Lisa Chen, Jr. Holly Ellison, Jr. Michelle Kwong, So. Angelina Sun, Fr. Sydney Kolz, Fr. Alexa Hartman.
Outlook: The Indians went 7-8 a year ago and just missed out on a state tournament appearance. Montville graduated all three of its doubles teams but returns three of its top four singles plays in Liang, Chen and Wu. "My players have a great attitude and the determination to make this season our best ever," said LaFemina, whose Indians will compete in Division III with NFA, Bacon, Lyman Memorial and the Windham/Windham Tech co-op.
Coach: Chris Portelance (1st year)
Key returnees: So. Anna Slopak, Sr. Maddie Minski, Sr. Kaitlyn Cavanaugh, Sr. Hanna Crary, Jr. Ashlyn Chmelecki.
Top newcomers: Sr. Natalie Dionne, Fr. Paige Raposo, Fr. Emily Eggler.
Outlook: Portelance, most recently the girls' coach at Ledyard, takes over an NFA program that moves to Division III after going 2-11 last season. The Wildcats will led by Slopak, who was an ECC all-star and a member of The Day's All-Area team as a freshman, and Portelance is encouraged by the 13 freshmen and five sophomores now part of the program. "He future looks promising," he said.
Coach: Matthew Zagura (7th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Hannah Vandevander, Sr. Sequia Hood, Sr. Yosselin Jimenez, Sr. Violet Abad, Sr. Maria Pedraza, Sr. Dinorah Cruz.
Top newcomer: Fr. Elizabeth Herrera.
Outlook: The Eagles return their entire lineup led by seven seniors, so Zagura is optimistic Grasso Tech will be much more competitive in the Connecticut Technical Conference this spring after finishing 2-6 in 2018.
Coach: Emily Hayes (8th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Kelsey Williams, Sr. Julia Phillips, Jr. Shakoya Rainsford, Sr. Marissa Madera, Jr. Lydia Santiago.
Outlook: The Warriors, who finished 3-8 in 2018, must replace their No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles team for last season, but Hayes is excited about this season and Norwich Tech's future in the Connecticut Technical Conference. The Warriors return a solid senior and junior class, but have a record 13 freshman in the program (they had none last year).
Coach: Tracy Ann Lenz (6th season)
Key returnees: Sr. Brynn McGlinchey, Sr. Kellie Sablone, Sr. Emma Danes, Jr. Emma Bass, Jr. Melissa Mauro, So. Lauren Wallace.
Outlook: The Wildcats went 16-6 a year ago and reached the Class S quarterfinals. They graduate No. 1 singles player Keelin Hurtt, a member of The Day's all-area team, and three key doubles players, but there is a solid core of singles and doubles players returning. "The doubles configurations may be different," said Lenz, who expects to be one of the top teams in the Shoreline Conference, "but we are deep in this area with so many doubles players returning. We are looking forward to one of our best seasons yet."