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2014 GIRLS TENNIS PREVIEW: Oakland County team capsules

  • Mikayla Kazdan, Birmingham Groves senior No. 1 singles
  • Allie Steinbach, Clawson
  • Hannah Moreno, Birmingham Groves
Here's a look at Oakland County's tennis teams for 2013.

For capsules of Oakland County's Top-10 teams and lists of the top singles and doubles players, CLICK HERE

BIRMINGHAM GROVES – The Falcons won the OAA White title last season and moved up to the ultra-competitive OAA Red this season. The team returns three of its top four singles players, led by senior co-captain Mikayla Kazdan at No. 1 singles. She is joined by returnees Claudia Fuderer – a senior co-captain at No. 3 – and sophomore Adrienne Jo at No. 4. Freshman Hannah Moreno will play No. 2 singles. Claire Nader and Caitlin Forbes, both juniors, anchor the doubles lineup. Juniors Katie Weitzel and Emma Salesin are at No. 2, followed by senior Ari Mamassian and junior Vickie Lucas, freshmen Katie Lockwood and Paige Baccanari and sophomores Natalie Cooper and Amanda Blitstein. Senior co-captain Shayna Brickman – who played 2-singles last season – is rehabbing an injury and is hoping to return to the lineup by the end of the season, according to coach Gary Nicholls.

“Our goal this year is not to win our league, but to qualify for the state tournament, so playing against such excellent competition is a way to get our girls ready,” Nicholls said.

BLOOMFIELD HILLS ACADEMY OF THE SACRED HEART — Eventually, graduation had to hit the Gazelles. Youthful experience carried Sacred Heart to consecutive Division 4 state championships each of the last two years. If coach Judy Hehs’ team wants to return to the top in 2014, it’ll need a number of its members to step it up. Sophomore Abby Hildebrand moves up a spot and into the No. 1 singles position this season. Sophomore Tate Lehmann, junior Teresa Walawender and senior Brenna MacArthur round out the lineup.

Hit hard by graduation at the top of doubles, senior Sarah Spangler and sophomore Gretchen Lemon will anchor the team at No. 1. Spangler won a state title at 2-doubles last year. Lemon won it all at 4-doubles. Senior Kendall Lehmann, a state champion at 3-doubles last year, will be joined by freshman Stella Betrus at No. 2 doubles. Senior Hannah Evans, junior Shannon Miller, Senior Jacqueline Zielinski and junior Sarah Panone have moved into the starting lineup this season. Adding depth to the team will be seniors Amy Aaron and Rachel Bull, along with freshmen Margaret Mayer and Amanda Kchikian.

“One might call this a re-building year, but we look solid all the way through the lineup with the returning players and the new ones all contributing,” said Hehs, whose team was ranked sixth in Division 4 in the season-opening state rankings.

FARMINGTON — Head coach Tom Kay is excited for what lays ahead for his Falcons team in 2014. Coming off an OAA Blue championship a year ago, Farmington moved up into the OAA White this spring. Kay lost just five players off last year’s squad. So he’s hopeful that the team can compete against the likes of Troy Athens, Stoney Creek, Lake Orion and Berkley.

“I think we will be competitive in spite of moving up to the OAA White,” Kay said.

Junior Anna DeVeaux and sophomore Hannah Pierce – who played 3-4 singles last year – are candidates to move up into the vacated 1-2 singles positions. Senior Sarah Bayani, junior Aneesha Yande and freshman Isha Nadgauda are also in the singles mix.

The doubles corps will also be a mix of new and returning players. Leading the way, and returning to the first doubles slot will be team co-captains, Ashley Tran (Sr.) and Priyanka Darsi Sakthikumar (Sr.). Sisters Maria (Sr.) and Natalia Peurach (Jr.) also return to their second doubles position. The final two doubles positions are still undecided, but hotly contested by a group of enthusiastic players which include senior Sharon Thomas, senior Shreya Raman, junior Nikitha Bujala, junior Shreya Jose, junior Miloni Shah, sophomore Samantha Miller and sophmore Kalyani Ramamurthy.

HOLLY — Nine starters return from Holly’s 2013 Flint Metro League championship team, more than enough for coach Will Sophiea’s squad to once again be the favorites in a league it has owned for more than three decades now. Senior Natalie Clink returns at No. 1 singles, while sophomore Jenna Pepper moves up a spot from 4-singles. Clink was a league runner-up last year. Pepper won her flight. Joining them will be sophomore Haley Crimmins at No. 2 and sophomore Lily Kossak at No. 4.

Senior Carley Postma and sophomore Sydney Renehan return to play 1-doubles for the Bronchos. They won a league championship last year. Seniors Leah Moller and Alanah Rau move up a spot to 2-doubles. They were league champs a year ago. Senior Katherine Skubik will play three doubles along with freshman Paige Reid. Junior Claire Young and senior Chloe Reynolds are at 4-doubles. Others expected to make an impact are juniors Abby Graff and Makenna Rooker, along with sophomores Skylar St. Croix and Kate Beauregard, senior Kirstin Moore and freshman Shannon Torpey.

LAKELAND — Eagles coach Sean Beacome and his staff have a big challenge sitting in front of them this season. Lakeland lost 11 seniors to graduation. That’s a lot of holes to replace. He’ll rely on a group of four returning seniors to lead the way.

In the front of that line is four-year letterwinner and captain Danielle Mathiesen. She’s entering her third year playing No. 1 singles for the Eagles. She was a regional runner-up a year ago. “She is a consummate competitor and leads her team with a calm, cool confidence,” Beacome said. Also back in the singles lineup is Olivia Neumann, who played No. 3. Gabi Gibbons and Krystle Baecker, who played No. 4. The rest of the lineup will be filled with newcomers.

“This is an outstanding group of young ladies, both on court and in the classroom,” Beacome said. “Maybe we'll surprise some folks this year, including ourselves.”

LAKE ORION — With eight starters returning, coach Eric Bracciano’s goal of improving on last year’s seventh-place finish in the OAA White looks pretty promising. With last year’s champion, and runner-up, North Farmington and Birmingham Groves moving up to the OAA Red. Those chances look even better.

Sophomore Selina Fuchs, league champion at 2-singles last year, moves into the No. 1 position this spring. Senior co-captain Melanie Gagen will play No. 2, followed by sophomore co-captain Sophia Partington and senior Nadia Minart.

Juniors Rachel Alexander and Maya Mitrovic will lead the doubles lineup. Alexander played one-half of No. 4 doubles last year. Mitrovic is a foreign-exhange student. Senior Kelsey Corless and junior Carley Jarvis both return from last year’s starting lineup and will team up at 2-doubles. Junior Phoebe Holmes and sophomore Kayla Bruner are at No. 3, followed by seniors Ashley Bressman and Taylor Doran at No. 4. Junior Collette Doran and freshman Alyssa Bowden are playing fifth doubles.

MADISON HEIGHTS LAMPHERE — There is no lack of numbers out for the Rams this spring. Coach Brian White has 38 players on his varsity and junior varsity squads. The team finished 5-1 in the MAC Silver in 2013 and just one point behind Warren Fitzgerald at the league tournament.

This year the Rams have four seniors in the singles lineup. Susanna Vuljaj leads the way at No. 1. Morgan Lashbrook, Alyssa Morrison and Myrna Siba round out the top four. Seniors Lesha Bush and Meghan Moore pace the doubles at No. 1. Seniors Dhruvi Patel and Jordon Dewitt are at 2-doubles, senior Kim Hoang and junior Sara Gren at No. 3, followed by junior Michelle Chanbour and senior Hahn Hoang at No. 4.

Juniors Kirsten Swanson and Fatema Jui, along with sophomore Jonafina Torres provide depth at singles, while sophomores Taylor Cole and Megan Keplar may see time in the doubles lineup. White expects the Silver to be tight this season, with his Rams, Marine City, Warren-Mott and Fitzgerald all in the mix.

NOVI — Coach Jim Hanson returns nine of his top 12 and 10 of his top 14 players from last year’s team, which finished just behind Northville in their division, at the KLAA Association tournament and the regional. Junior Erin Day and sophomore Youna Lee are back at 1-2 singles for the Wildcats, while sophomore Allison Lollo returns to play No. 4 again. Freshman Jessica Lypka has cracked the lineup and will play No. 3 singles.

Senior Amy Zhou returns at No. 1 doubles and will team up with senior Asawari Kanitkar, who played 3-doubles. Seniors Rachel Bailey and Dina Fawaz are back to play 2-doubles again. Senior Harika Bollineni moves up a flight and will team with junior Dhivya Sridar – who played 3-singles last year – at No. 3 doubles. Hanson’s still working on solidifying his lineup, as juniors Shakila Khan and Sam Martin, sophomore Carolyn Zhang and freshman Teja Mogasala all figure to be in the mix.

Hanson said Northville will once again be the team to beat in the KLAA and Division 1 regional.

“A key factor (to our success) will be to get continued improvement from last year’s returning players,” said Hanson, who is entering his 30th season as the Novi girls coach. “We need to establish a singles and doubles lineup that will produce consistent play and give us a competitive advantage at tournament time.”

PONTIAC NOTRE DAME PREP — Balance is the name of the game this year at Notre Dame Prep. Coach Pete Riley’s starting lineup consists of two seniors, four juniors, four sophomores and two freshmen.

Juniors Kayla Stencel, Hannah Preuss and Savanah Litton lead the way at 1-2-3 singles for the Fighting Irish. All three were Catholic League Division 2 champions last year, at 1-3-4 singles.

So too were NDP’s 1-2 doubles teams. Senior Annie and sophomore Julie Boniface are back at No. 1 doubles, where they won a league title a year ago. Senior Hannah Dinardo and sophomore Allison Kavanagh teamed to win the 3-doubles league title a year ago. They are at 2-doubles this spring. Rounding our Prep’s lineup are sophomore Nicole Gerber and freshman Ila Batah at No. 3 and Junior Sara Hanna and sophomore Mira Housey at No. 4.

ROCHESTER ADAMS — There’s a lot of talent returning to the Highlanders this year. Ten starters are back for coach Greg Burks. At the top is all-state junior Halle Hyman. This is her third year playing No. 1 for Adams. Senior Marla Seaver is back at No. 2 singles as well. Junior Francesca Tiberio and sophomore Nicole Vasilakis move up from doubles and will play 3-4 singles.

Seniors Emma Hickey and Kristen Heim anchor the doubles lineup. Senior Bridget Schepherd and junior Christine Weng, junior Reshma Parikh and freshman Erika Vonbehren, senior Apurva Chilukuri and Abby Scheff and junior Jenny Liu and sophomore Nikita Chitnis make up 2-5 doubles. Sophomore Grace Liu and freshman Sydney Lovalvo provide additional depth.

ROYAL OAK — With Farmington playing up in the OAA White this spring, the OAA Blue title is there for the taking for either Royal Oak or Auburn Hills Avondale, two teams that finished second and third in the division behind the Falcons a year ago. The Ravens return solid talent, including freshman Ivona Gorgioski and sophomore Angela Gorgioski holding down 1-2 singles. Senior captains Riana Manabat and Rachel Rusinowski return at No. 1 doubles, where they were runner-up at the league tournament in 2013. Also returning for the Ravens are seniors Ashlee Morris, Mara Varady, Ann Blessman, juniors Casey Linenberg, Annie Collick, Claire Greening, Abby Walsh and sophomore Carly Ryan.

ROYAL OAK SHRINE — There’s going to be a little bit of an adjustment period for the Knights this spring. Coach Cathy Hassett’s team welcomes in a handful of new players to the lineup, many of which are playing key positions. Junior Stephanie Beale is new to the team this year and occupies the No. 1 singles position. Freshmen Grace Kelly and Ellie Cook will play 2-3 singles. Lily Brueckman, who played fourth singles last year, is back in the same position this spring.

Seniors Carly Cook and Helen Joa return to play 1-doubles again for the Knights. Sophomore Izzy Ray, back after playing 3-singles last year, will team with newcomer Mallory Stinebaugh – a junior – at No. 2 doubles. Senior Brittany Zemaitis and junior Jillian Berry are both back and will play No. 3. Junior Grace Nyikes and sophomore Leah Fast are holding down the No. 4 doubles position. Lola Erfourth, Gabi Chandler, Megan O’Connor and Brigid Flynn provide depth for the Knights.

SOUTH LYON EAST — Losing eight starters from last year won’t be easy for the Cougars to deal with – especially with the entire singles lineup gone. But coach Matt Admiraal’s team is prepared to go at it with six returning letter-winners leading the way.

Juniors Megan Shaffer and Megan Renehan will play singles for East, most likely Nos. 2-3. Sophomore Andrea Briones will play No. 1. For now, either senior Mary Hansen or junior Monika Sedik will round out the lineup, with the other likely holding down a spot on the first or second doubles pairing. Others figuring into that mix are senior Molly Young, junior Lea Fields and junior Grace Richvalsky.

The Cougars play in the KLAA Central division, which includes powerhouse teams like Northville and Novi.

STONEY CREEK — With seven players returning from last year’s squad, plus the addition of a transfer student taking over the No. 1 singles position, new head coach Gina Petherick has plenty to be excited about this season. Sophomore Jamie Lai moved to Rochester Hills from New York and will head up an experienced lineup which includes last year’s No. 1, sophomore Kara McKay, senior Alex Felix and junior Fran Angel. Both Felix and Angel were OAA White runners-up at 3-4 singles last year.

Seniors Ilissa Schutzbach and Christina Morelli will anchor the doubles lineup. Joining them will be senior Miranda Catallo and junior Anna Melaragni at No. 2, sophomores Dominique Biondo and Joyce Yu at No. 3, senior Katherine Andrusz and sophomore Jessica Yin at No. 4 and sophomores Chloe Zurcher and Cecile Herledan at No. 5. Senior Emily Veillette will provide depth at doubles.

TROY ATHENS — Trying to replace three of your top four singles players from a year ago is no small task for Troy Athens coach Andrew Shipp and his team. To get started, team captain Morgan Purvis will move from No. 2 singles to the top position. Co-captain Shirley Lu is also back, playing No. 2 doubles this season. Joy Goldschmidt, Hanka Lekovic, Sarah Yee and Jiwoo Choe also return from last year’s starting doubles lineup. Freshman Neha Sridhar will be playing No. 3 singles for the Red Hawks.

“We had a nice finish at regionals and at states last year, and the team is looking to duplicate that success this year,” Shipp said. “We also feel as though we have a good chance to have a strong finish in a very competitive league, so we are excited to see how that will play out.”

WALLED LAKE NORTHERN — The Knights had one of the best seasons in school history a year ago, winning the KLAA North division championship and finishing a solid fourth at the Division 1 regional at Novi. Coach Bill Wahlstrom’s team lost five seniors from that team, but returns a solid corps this spring.

Junior Lexi Hasse, sophomore Alex Hayer and junior Macy Abel return after playing 1-2-4 singles a year ago. They are joined by returnees Katie Mishanec, Hannah Frelich – both juniors – as well as senior co-captains Emily Crawford and Julia Clyma. Juniors Aryn Thomas and Paige Voeffray were 15-4 at No. 2 doubles last year and will move up to No. 1 doubles. Newcomers Sophie Reismueller (Sr.), Hanna VonBenthal (Sr.), Marrisa Rihtarshich (Jr.), Sarah Strange (Fr.) and Tessa VonBenthal (Fr.) have earned varsity spots.

WALLED LAKE WESTERN — It’s a mixed bag returning for the Warriors this spring. The team returns its top two singles players, seniors Natalie Holland and Aileen Zhao – both returning for their fourth season on the team, third at their respective flights. The team did lose its 3-4 singles as well as its top doubles team from last year.

Juniors Amanda Svenson and Megan Crawford will take over at third and fourth singles. Senior Aki Suzuki and junior Darya Vasilyeva will slide into the No. 1 doubles slot. Sophomores Prachi Gokhale and Tulsi Sadisivan will play No. 2. New to the team are freshmen Jacqueline Hessano and Alyssa Harvey, who will play third doubles, junior Lana Sara and sophomore Katie McGarry, who are at No. 4 and sophomore Olivia Svenson and junior Siera Paul, who are playing No. 5 doubles.

Jason Schmitt covers girls tennis for The Oakland Press. Email him at jason.schmitt@oakpress.com, read his "In The Zone" blog here and follow our high school tennis coverage on Twitter @JasonESchmitt.



Last Updated: 4/10/2014 11:39:15 PM EST

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