The end results for the 2018 girls tennis season were fairly split, as a pair of teams qualified for the state tournament while three other local squads suffered losing campaigns. With the new season about to start, all five will be looking to play into the postseason and compete at the state level.
New Britain hopes to reach the state tournament for the third straight season, and is armed with one of the best doubles teams in the area. Southington lost a lot of production after a 14-4 season, but still boasts one of the best rosters in the area, one that expects to be back in the state tournament and possibly make some noise once it gets there.
Here is a closer look at the teams:
Head coach: Joe Canzanella (3rd season)
Last year: 11-7, Lost in qualifying round of Class L tournament
Key losses: Lela Shvelidze (singles), Larissa Tabb (singles)
Key returnees: Danya Alboslani (junior, doubles), Yajaira Asimbaya (senior, doubles), Claire Palin (senior, singles), Julitta Oliver (sophomore, singles), Jennifer Ketkeorasmy (senior, singles), Sarah Belal (senior, doubles), Zoe Hayres (senior, doubles)
Newcomers to watch: Audrey Belliveau (sophomore, singles or doubles), Kiara Matias (junior, doubles), Tracey Asimbaya (sophomore, doubles)
Outlook: The Hurricanes qualified for the state tournament for the second straight season, and will look to make it three in a row behind their young talent and established doubles duo of Alboslani and Asimbaya, both of whom earned all-conference selections last year. Look for the team’s sophomores and freshmen contributing toward the second half of the season.
Head coach: Andrew Thurston (2nd season)
Last year: 5-12
Key losses: Jasmine Nappi (1 singles) Kelly Sparmer and Makayla Miano (1 doubles) Caroline Daigle and Ashley Bryant (2 or 3 doubles)
Key returnees: Alina Whiteside (senior), Hailey Nardelli (junior), Jessica Weber (junior)
Newcomers to watch: Madeline Palmese
Outlook: Half of Thurston’s starting lineup graduated last year, including his top singles and top-two doubles competitors, so there is a lot of production to make up for this season. The Redcoats earned five all-conference selections in 2018, two of which will be returning in Whiteside and Nardelli, a pair of upperclassmen who will take on the leadership role and try to keep Berlin headed in a positive direction.
Head coach: Sean Hussey (2nd season)
Last year: 8-9
Key losses: Ellie Wronka, Melissa Riggins (1 doubles)
Key returnees: Olivia Rozio, Mara Klin (1 and 2 singles)
Newcomers to watch: Anusha Singh, Michelle Novikova
Outlook: The Indians are armed with what Hussey considers to be one of the largest rosters Newington has ever had. Thirteen seniors lead the large crowd, so the Indians should have plenty of experience to compliment their young talent that Hussey is excited to see in action this spring. Rozio was one of Hussey’s budding young talents last year, as the then-sophomore earned an all-conference selection behind eight wins last season. Rozio will look to lead the singles charge this year, as will fellow all-conference selection Klin, slotted as Newington’s second singles player this season.
Head coach: Chuck Radda (34th season)
Last year: 5-10
Key losses: Lost six seniors and five starters with major losses being Kelly Tuczapski, Caroline St. Pierre and virtually entire doubles group
Key returnees: Samantha Conte (junior, singles), Maggie Cronchite (junior, singles), Olivia Wazorko (junior, singles), Andrea Ybanez (senior, singles), Krystyna Miller (sophomore, doubles), Sarah Tomczak (senior, doubles), Cassidy Norman (junior, doubles)
Newcomers to watch: Kimmy Xiques, Brianna Bartley, Peyton Stehle, Nanci Gutierrez, Katherine Gibson, Ellie-May Lacasse, Carolina Cwalina, Alecksandra Konieczniak
Outlook: Radda’s group will have to do a lot of learning on the fly this season, particularly in doubles, as the Blue Devils lost almost their entire doubles group to graduation. Xiques and Bartler, two first-year players, appear to be in the lead to take over second doubles, while last year’s second doubles squad of Miller and Tomczak will slide up to first doubles. Over in singles, Wazorko represents a major returning piece, as the junior was the only Plainville player to earn all-conference honors last year. Still, five starters from last season are gone, so the Blue Devils have an uphill climb to draw closer to .500 this spring.
Head coach: Robin Thompson
Last year: 14-4, lost in qualifying round if Class L tournament
Key losses: Samantha Barmore, Madison Beaudoin, Carolyn Callahan, Molly Murphy, Coral Tommervik
Key returnees: Abby Murphy (junior), Chantelle Gimenez (senior), Jill Watson (senior), Kate Hardy (junior), Isa Miani (junior), Joelle Stublarec (junior), Gianna Wadowski (junior)
Outlook: The Blue Knights’ solid 2018 season ended in bitter fashion after being upset by No. 22 Westhill in the qualifying match for the Class L state tournament. Thompson’s team has plenty of talent returning to avenge that loss this season, including Abby Murphy, an all-conference selection who finished the year with an 18-1 record and a first-round win at the State Open.
Still, there will be production to make up for this season, as Callahan and Barmore both graduated and moved on to play at the collegiate level. Murphy will hope to get some help from fellow all-conference selection Gimenez, who will be looking to end her high school career on a high note.