MT. ARARAT TENNIS player Christine Levesque and her Eagles open their 2015 KVAC regular season today at home against Bangor.

MT. ARARAT TENNIS player Christine Levesque and her Eagles open their 2015 KVAC regular season today at home against Bangor.

BRUNSWICK

The start of the girls high school tennis season is upon us, with several teams stepping into action today and Friday.

Brunswick

The Dragons come into the season as the three-time defending Eastern A Regional champs, but a change is certainly afoot.

Graduation has taken most of the team, including four-time Maine Principals Association Schoolgirls finalist Maisie Silverman, Ali Stankiewicz, Leah Soloway, Samiera Mac- Mullen and Lyse Henshaw. Last year’s state championship loss to Falmouth ended a 47-game match winning streak for the Dragons.

Brunswick coach Rob Manter certainly has work to do in replacing all three singles spots, along with his top doubles team from a year ago.

“I have two returning starters — junior Elizabeth Day and sophomore Kira Wolpow — and it will be a rebuilding year and a growth year for many of the players,” said the coach, whose Dragons are slated to host Oxford Hills today. “I am happy the way the team is shaping up. As a coach, it is fun to try to fit all the moving parts together and make the team as strong as it can be. We will see soon just where we are at.”

Returning players include senior Maddie Stoll, junior Gillian Doehring and sophomore Cassie Ridge. Sophomore Katharine Kunhardt missed last season with a broken wrist, while newcomers are sophomores Sabina Smith, Aidan Sachs, Julia Baumgarte and Erin Marc-Aurele, along with freshman Galen Gaze.

“Our strength I think will be our depth,” said Manter. “I have some pretty good athletes on the team, so we may be able to take some matches from having some athletes in doubles, and our singles will be good, but young. Our goal will be to get into the playoffs and try for as high a seeding as we can get. Then we will see how deep in the playoffs we can go.”

Freeport

The Falcons had a solid season, with their 5-7 record just putting them on the outside of the postseason field in Western B. Coach Chris Nordenson will have to replace his top two singles players.

“The team looks good so far, but it is still early,” said Nordenson, whose squad opens April 28 at York. “It’s always tough to lose your two top players, but this group is resilient.”

Junior Lindsey Dealaman played at No. 3 singles last year behind teammates Katie McClelland and Katie O’Neil, while seniors Hannah Williams and Lauren Carter teamed up at No. 1 doubles. Junior Leah Harrison returns after a year at No. 2 doubles.

Nordenson has a newcomer in foreign exchange student Chanpia “Opal” Suvannasaroje.

“Dealaman, Williams, Carter and Harrison will be fighting for singles positions,” said Nordenson. “We won’t have a lot of on-court practices because of the weather, so we will have to hit the ground running. I have been really impressed thus far with their commitment and focus.

“The biggest strength is that most of the returning varsity players have played varsity matches before. It is also a pretty close-knit group of girls who truly want to get better.”

Playing in the Western Maine Conference, which produced three state champions in Falmouth (Class A), Cape Elizabeth (Class B) and Waynflete (Class C), is always tough.

“I think there will be a battle in the WMC,” said Nordenson. “I think it will come down to Greely and Cape Elizabeth, both great programs with terrific head coaches. However, it will be interesting to see what a resurgent Yarmouth program has this year.”

Lisbon

Greyhounds coach Georgia Ahlers returns four players and has four tennis newcomers in the fold.

Junior returnees are Bri Livingston, Katherin George, Jordan Fredrick and Alyssa Finlay.

Lisbon boosts of four players experiencing tennis for the first time in senior Lexi Gamache, sophomores Kyra Gamache and Adrienne Bolton, and freshman Cheyenne Pesce.

“It could be a building year for us, with a lot of newcomers, along with four strong returning players,” said Ahlers, whose Greyhounds finished 8-4 last season and fell to Cape Elizabeth in the Western B quarterfinals. “They could rise to the occasion. The team is certainly motivated.”

Lisbon opens at home against Madison on April 24.

“I hope we can constantly tackle the matches that come our way, and that we do well,” said Ahlers. “We hope to win some matches and have fun.”

Wiscasset

The Wolverines made the Western C postseason last season before falling to Hall- Dale in the quarterfinals.

Sue Shorey returns for her third stint leading the Wolverines, with this year’s senior class of Miranda McIntire, Hanna Foye, Maeve Carlson and Hannah Welborn playing for Shorey when they were freshmen three seasons ago.

“I really hadn’t thought about coaching again, but I realized I missed it and wanted to come back to coach these seniors,” said Shorey, whose squad opens April 27 at home against Boothbay.

Juniors Ali Richardson, Samantha Arsenault and Amanda Marcus, are joined by sophomores Brooke Carlton and Haylee Craig.

“The seniors will be my singles players, with Hannah Welborn leading the doubles,” said Shorey. “Hannah is our steady-eddy, and the sophomores are especially athletic.”

Mt. Ararat

With Brunswick a team in a rebuilding stage, the time for the Eagles might be now.

Mt. Ararat was solid last season, finishing 9-3 and defeating Bangor in the Eastern A quarterfinals. But, Mt. Ararat’s run ended in the semifinals with a tough 3-2 loss to second-seeded Hampden Academy.

Coach Sheila Bohlin’s Eagles are led by senior cocaptains Eliza Hodge and Kaylin Huey. Senior Christine Levesque was 12-1 last year, a KVAC Second Team selection and advanced to the MPA schoolgirls round of 32 in singles competition. Classmate Allison Melcher is a consistent server.

Molly Huey is a returning junior, and will either see action in doubles or singles.

Newcomers for Bohlin is senior Lucia Canizzarro, juniors Mona Link and Sabrina Fuhrman (Canizzarro, Link and Fuhrman are exchange students), sophomore Mandi Hawkes and freshmen Meriwether Stockford and Elizabeth Garver.

“I know many teams have lost seniors, and Mt. Ararat has a singles lineup with three strong, experienced seniors in Levesque (No. 1), Melcher (No. 2) and Hodge (No. 3),” said Bohlin, who took a hit to graduation with the losses of Amy Segars (No. 1 singles last year), and doubles standouts Isabella Leon, Evan Jensen and Marie Ring. “Kaylin and Molly Huey will play number one doubles. They are committed to working together.”

Bohlin feels Brunswick will still be a team to be reckoned with.

“Although Brunswick lost many seniors, they somehow always regroup and have a very strong lineup,” said the Mt. Ararat coach, whose Eagles open at home today against Bangor. “Hampden is a strong team that has a great spirit and depth of skill. Lewiston is always steady.

“This preseason has been a challenge for all teams, but I have faith in this team to put their tennis on fast-forward.”

Morse

The Shipbuilders garnered the No. 7 seed in Western B after a 6-6 regular season. A preliminary win over Gardiner propelled Morse into the quarters, but a close 3-2 loss to No. 2 Maranacook ended the Shipbuilders’ run.

This year, coach Barbara Boyce’s team was stuck inside the gym for two weeks before the courts dried enough to get outside.

“This year there are 19 eager young women vying for the seven starting spots,” said Boyce, whose Shipbuilders are slated to open at home on Friday against Medomak Valley. “We graduated our top doubles team of Meaghan Harper and Lynn Swanson, who went 9-5 last year. Our number two singles spot was held by Courtney Mitchell (8-6), and the number one singles position was help by Arielle Leeman.

Boyce has 10 returning players, including senior Leah Machnitzky, juniors Molly Maurer, Christine Skroski, Makayla Welsh, Pearl Wilson and Sarah Young, and sophomores Aliza Johnson, Carly Lister, Angel Moore and Mikayla Swain.

“Most of these players have experience playing on the varsity level, and I expect will step into leadership roles this season,” said Boyce.

New additions to the team include freshman Sarah Gray, who is ranked No. 1 by the Maine Tennis Association in her age group, and senior exchange student Veronica Hamernikova of the Czech Republic, who has played tennis in her home country. Rookies Cassie Lambert (senior), Emma Harrington (junior) and freshmen Halley Gellatly, Sydney McLuer, Madeline Skroski, Destiny TerMors and Maisey True are looking to find a spot in the Morse lineup.

“Although our schedule has changed a bit this year and we are now part of the ‘Coastal Division,’ I expect to be competitive with the stronger opponents in our group, such as Camden Hills, Lincoln Academy and Erskine,” said Boyce. “We have players with experience in postseason play in both singles and doubles, which should help us get to the regional playoffs again.”


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