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GIRLS' TENNIS: Downriver League preview (PHOTOS)
Carlson's Chelsea Holbrook is one of the area's top returning tennis players. Photo by Larry Caruso.
Now a senior, Anderson's No. 1 singles player, Caitlin Onodi, is one of two returning singles players for Coach Ryan Furkas. Photo by Larry Caruso.
The Trojans will return three sophomore starters to their singles lineup with Brittany Vinca, Lauren Solano and Elle Kersten competing for the first three spots.
Senior Miranda Madro, who was a member of the No. 1 doubles team last year, will either take the fourth singles spot or return to doubles.
Seniors Jordan Sutherby and Hannah Scharboneau will team up for the third straight year at doubles and sophomore Rachel Rushlau and junior Diana Kurteshi come back as another returning doubles pair.
Other players looking to crack the starting lineup at Whitney Parker, Hunter Molino, Marissa Reidy, Alyssa Berry and Tiffany Thompson.
Teams will be able to expand their starting lineups this season after a fifth doubles flight was added in all meets this season.
The Trojans will open the season on April 10 at home against Dearborn Divine Child and will begin the Downriver League season on two days later at home against Anderson.
The Allen Park Jaguars were blessed with gaudy tryout numbers once again in the hopes of turning in another stellar season.
With around 70 girls coming out, the Jags will look to improve on a solid season last year that ended in a second-place Downriver League finish and a regional championship.
Returners Madelyn Nemeth and Jenna Smith are currently battling for the No. 1 singles spot while Shelby Dandy and Mallori Young are penciled in at No. 3 and No. 4.
The doubles lineup is still being decided, but returners Becca Duvall, Allison Menard and Gabby Ammiano will like play key roles.
Jackie Wesner, Sam Light, Madison Keys, Olivia Nightingale, Rachel Couvreur, Nicole Wesley, Michele Mostoller and Hannah Hagen are all jockeying for positioning on one of the five doubles teams.
The Jags will follow its standard blueprint this season by scheduling a number of tough tournaments to prepare the team for regionals.
“We have a very challenging schedule,” Allen Park Coach Bill Riggs said. “We have six tournaments and five have all state-ranked teams.
“It’s a difficult road for them, but our goal is to peak by the end of the year. We will get beat up and the girls know this, but it all comes down to regionals and qualifying for the state finals. The regional date is our final exam date.”
Allen Park’s tough road will begin on Saturday for the Allen Park Invitational where the jags will host Grosse Pointe South, Bloomfield Hills Marian and Holly.
Carlson finds itself in prime position to contend in the Downriver League this season with a veteran group that is filled with returning starters.
All four starters from last year’s singles lineup return headed by regional champion and News-Herald “B” Top Gun Chelsea Holbrook at No. 1.
No. 2 Emily Carey, No. 3 Maggie Herman (regional champ) and No. 4 Corina Caldwell also return to round out the individual Marauder lineup.
At doubles, Samantha Hopper, Hunter Davis, Emily Cheplicki, Mary Canterbury, Tiffany Feebish and Jordyn McCarthy all return while newcomers Nicole Caldwell, Emily McKinney, Kelsey Bayer and Kayla Rago all look to make impacts.
“We’ll be very competitive in the Downriver League,” said Carlson Coach Brian Herman, who is filling in at the helm for Kelli Sims this season. “The top teams will be Trenton and Allen Park, but we should be able to challenge them.”
The Marauders open their league season on April 11 at home against Allen Park.
A year after missing out on the state finals by only one point at regionals, Kennedy co-head coaches Seoung Lee and Amanda Lewandowski will look to a crop of returning varsity players to lead the Eagles this season.
“The dual coaching really helped our team to one of the most successful seasons we (have) had in many years,” Lee said. “We lost some great senior players, but we are returning seven varsity players that are very talented and they will be the core of our team this season.”
Seniors Tiffany Nagy, Mariah Anselmi and Hannah Zilka will all be competing for the No. 1 singles spot.
“Any one of these three players could easily be No. 1 and for us to have that much talent at the top is something we haven’t had in many years,” Lee said. “We won’t have the dominating doubles team like last season, but we should be (a) more well-rounded team being equally good in singles and doubles this season.”
Other key returners include seniors Kayla Stevens, Justus Lee-Cato and Haley Mortensen as well as junior Morgan Stamper.
Newcomers looking to crack the starting lineup include juniors Mackenzie Phillips, Kelsey Sutyak and Erin Strausser and sophomores Andrea Campbell, Rachel Carmody, Kelsey Oliver, Jenna Grabowski and Devon White.
“I believe our league has some very tough teams and it will be difficult to be on top with loaded teams like Trenton, Carlson and Allen Park,” Lee said. “However, we will do our best to stay competitive and try to end the season in the top half of the league.”
The Eagles kick off their season on Saturday at Dearborn’s Queens of the Court Tournament.
New Roosevelt Coach Pat Loftus takes over for Pat Haley this year and will look to an experienced bunch to bring a competitive season to Wyandotte this spring.
“I’m looking forward to taking over for Coach Haley,” Loftus said. “We have had the luxury of fielding three teams over the years, allowing all of the girls (to) get plenty of match experience leading up to the varsity team.
“The addition of five doubles (flights) should make things very interesting.”
Two spots have been ironed out in the Roosevelt lineup with senior Alexa Daluz taking No. 1 singles and the combination of seniors Abby DeSana Hailee Trombley taking over No. 1 doubles.
“After that, it’s up in the air,” Loftus said. “We have a lot of depth this year, (so) filling out the rest of the lineup will be difficult. Of course, Mother Nature is not making things easy on us with all the rain and snow.”
Returning varsity players include seniors Shelby Smith, Sarah Stewart and Beth Zanley, juniors Grace Clark, Linsay Cowell, Halee Fustini, Sabrinia Green, Jessica Mantel and Taylor Mekelon.
The Bears will also welcome senior Michelle Arsenault and juniors Kelsey Williamson and LaNichol Young to the squad this season.
“I have high expectations for our team this year,” Loftus said. “We have a lot of girls returning from last year and if they continue to work hard, good things will happen.”
The Bears open the season next Wednesday at Riverview and will open the league season on April 4 against Woodhaven.
Weather has hindered Woodhaven Coach Tim Coleman from getting a great feel for his team in early practices, but the Warriors will likely lean on five returning starters in the early going this season.
With over 40 girls out for this year’s team, the Warriors singles lineup will be spearheaded by returning senior Samantha Kendrick (No. 3 last year) and sophomore Gabby Kabeth (No. 4 last year).
The Warriors have a potential top doubles pair in last year’s No. 2 duo of seniors Megan Tartal and Jill Collins.
Sophomore Kelsey Gordon, another doubles starter, also returns to the fold this spring.
“We lost a lot, so it’s going to be tough for us,” Coleman said. “Trenton has a lot of strong players, Allen Park has ungodly numbers and a lot of returning people and Wyandotte has three teams like Allen Park this year. It’s hard for me to know this early on.”
The Warriors will face their first test on Saturday at Dearborn’s Queens of the Court Tournament.
After losing eight-of-12 starters from a year ago, the Anderson Titans will rely on four key returners and a number of new faces this spring.
“We knew that we were going to come in with new players, but we had a strong JV with some good players last year,” Anderson Coach Ryan Furkas said. “There are some first-year kids who have a lot of athletic ability.”
The Titans two starting singles players from last year which includes last year’s No. 1, senior Caitlin Onodi.
Senior Raluca Scurtu returns to the starting lineup and will likely be joined by senior Kaitlyn Sears, who was the No. 1 singles on JV last season.
Juniors Beka Cashmer and Emily Roldan return from last year’s doubles lineup and will be joined by seniors Diana Zaman and Tayler Daversa, juniors Christina Kollias, Hannah Waara, Madison Wilson and Allyson Flannery, who will also be looking for spots at doubles.
Track converts Rylee Rivier and Hailey Brandes – both juniors – will also be vying for positions at doubles, as will sophomores Brooke Brown and Emily Wooten and freshman Kayla Bacha.
The Titans will compete in the Dearborn Queens of the Court Tournament on Saturday and will open league play on April 11 at defending league champion Trenton.
The Cougars feature a young team that will be led by a core group of returning veterans.
Five seniors - Krystal-Ann Bourne, Victoria Fisher, Ashley Lucier, Emily Murphy, and Ariel King - will pace the young Truman squad in the competitive Downriver League.
"Truman's team is young, but looking forward to the season," Coach Jason Cassell said.
Last Updated: 3/19/2013 12:12:56 PM EST