Mid-Michigan boys tennis preview

Mid-Michigan boys tennis preview

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Mid-Michigan boys tennis preview

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KEY: s-singles, d-doubles

CAAC BLUE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Okemos, 2. East Lansing, 3. Holt, 4. Grand Ledge, 5. Jackson, 6. Eastern, 7. Sexton

Top players: Eric Dewitt (East Lansing), Elan Dantus and Herschel Ambekkar (Okemos)

EASTERN

Last year: 6th

Coach: Steve Wolff (1st season)

Top returning players: Chris Bon (jr.-d), Collin Dillinger (sr.-s), David Summers (sr.-d), Kodie Meadows (jr.-d), Filmon Fetwei (sr.-d)

Outlook: The Quakers graduated perhaps their most talented senior class ever in 2011, so depth will be an issue. First-year coach Wolff is optimistic that his team can make some noise in the league as the season goes on.

EAST LANSING

Last year: 2nd

Coach: Karim Jelassi (3rd season)

Top returning players: Eric Dewitt (sr.-1s), Sam Cawood (sr.-1d), Anton Volovsek (sr.-2d), Darren Krause (sr.-2d), Josh Clingenpeel (sr.), Chad McFee (sr.-1d)

Other contributors: Grant Williams (fr.)

Outlook: The Trojans are expecting to compete for league and regional titles with a solid singles and doubles lineup.

GRAND LEDGE

Last year: 4th (3-3)

Coach: Mark Barrett (5th season)

Top returning players: Cole Christy (sr.-2s), Robert Wilson (jr.-1d), Chris Reynolds (jr.-3s), Brandon Haarer (so.-4s)

Outlook: Since the Comets return just one senior, and lost two-time LSJ area player of the year Trevor Stoimenoff to graduation, Grand Ledge faces a huge rebuilding year. Still, a repeat of their fourth-place finish in the Blue is not out of the question.

HOLT

Last year: 2nd (16-6-2)

Coach: Russ Olcheske (6th season)

Top returning players: Robert Lamond (sr.-4s), George Edelman (sr.-1d), Zane Smith (jr.-2d), Jason Daman (sr.-4d), Robert Hull (sr.-3d)

Other contributors: Ben Morris (jr.), Joe Gilman (fr.), Justin Green (jr.), Sean Bulkowski (sr.), Alejandro Whitehead (jr.)

Outlook: The Rams lost seven seniors from last year’s state-qualifying team, but have the talent to contend in a tough Blue. Holt looks to qualify for a third consecutive trip to the state finals for the first time in school history

OKEMOS

Last year: 1st (6-0)

Coach: Chris Silker (3rd season)

Top returning players: Elan Dantus (jr.-1d), Herschel Ambekar (sr.-3s), Ashton Hoffman (sr.-2d), Nathan Janick (sr.-2d), Ritwik Biswas (jr.-4d), Ross Lazar (so.-4s)

Outlook: The Chiefs will look to rebuild after losing the bulk of a 2011 team that finished fifth in the Division 2 state finals. Dantus will return with a doubles state title and Ambekar will play his fourth year of varsity tennis, but most of the rest of the squad is an unknown quantity.

SEXTON

Last year: 7th (0-6)

Coach: Deocco Long (4th season)

Top returning players: Mike Barber Braun (sr.-1s), Antonio Barrera (sr.-2s), Devon Hammond (sr.-3s), Nixon Lee (so.-d), Jamal Jackson (jr.-d), Shaun Rosenberg (jr.-d)

Other contributors: Austin Johnson (jr.-4s)

Outlook: The Big Reds will rely on experience to climb out of the Blue basement. Braun and Hammond will play their fourth year of varsity tennis, and Barrera and Jackson are third-year varsity players.

CAAC RED

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Haslett, 2. DeWitt, 3. St. Johns, 4. Fowlerville, 5. Owosso, 6. Ionia

Top player: Aaron Laatsch, Haslett

DEWITT

Last year: 1st

Coach: Ryan Whitehill (1st season)

Top returning players: Brad Parsons (sr.), Caimen Barber (so.), Sam Schuster (jr.), Drew Zamaira (so.), Tristan Fox (jr.), Miles Polly (jr.), Cameron Smith (jr.), Dan Schroeder (jr.), Sam Hopkins (jr.)

Other contributors: Andy Shellburg (jr.), Nick Mielke (so.), Kyle Smith (jr.), Michael Hostetler (so.)

Outlook: The Panthers suffered some graduation losses, but return their top three singles players and hope to repeat as league and regional champions.

FOWLERVILLE

Last year: 3rd (7-4-1, 3-1-1)

Coach: Jim Jonas (7th season)

Top returning players: John Grable (jr.), Jacob Prochnow (jr.), Greg Rocco (sr.), Evan Martin (sr.), Garrett Kottong (jr.)

Other contributors: Grant Taylor (jr.), Taylor Lockhart (jr.), Cody Leggert (jr.)

Outlook: The Gladiators lost seven of their 12 starters from last year’s team, which posted the best finish in school history. While improving on third place in the Red will be a stretch, repeating that finish is an achievable goal.

HASLETT

Last year: 1st

Coach: Henry Brunnschweiler (11th season)

Top returning players: Aaron Laatsch (sr.-1s), Mitchell Stewart (jr.-2s), Dillon Kleihege (jr.), Andy Stamm (jr.), Max Novak (jr.)

Other contributors: Scot Stanulis (jr.), Johnny Choi (fr.), Matt Stewart (fr.), Tony Beplar (fr.), Nick Baugh (fr.), Jake Schmelter (sr.), Patrick Gifford (sr.), Charlie Rumsey (sr.), Shaurya Srivastava (sr.), Jake Gornick (jr.), Noah Taylor (jr.)

Outlook: The Vikings return their top singles player, Laatsch, but will rely on some young but talented newcomers for team success. Brunnschweiler predicts that Choi will be one of the top freshmen in the area. Depth will be a strength of this team.

OWOSSO

Last year: 5th

Coach: Mike Raffaelli (7th season)

Top returning players: James Ike (sr.-s), Connor Sergent (jr.-d), J.D. Hrcka (jr.-s), Devon Hudson (sr.-d), Allen Webster (sr.-d), Ryan Kelley (jr.-d), Kyle Rehmann (sr.-d), Brian Stanhope (jr.-d), Peter Schluckebier (sr.-d)

Outlook: The Trojans will rely on experience to improve on last year’s fifth-place league finish, since nine of their 12 starters from last year return – including seven of their eight doubles players.

ST. JOHNS

Last year: 4th

Coach: Angie Pertler (1st season)

Top returning players: Zac Peters (sr.-1s), Mitch Marier (sr.), Paul Sochor (sr.), Mitchell Gazda (so.)

Other contributors: Alex Murray (so.), Addison Swarthout (fr.)

Outlook: The young Redwings will be in rebuilding mode with just three seniors, but Peters will be solid at the top of the lineup. Results this year will depend on contributions from newcomers.

CAAC GOLD

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Jackson Lumen Christi, 2. Parma Jackson County Western, 3. Eaton Rapids, 4. Mason, 5. Charlotte, 6. Jackson Northwest, 7. Waverly

CHARLOTTE

Last year: 4th (0-7-2)

Coach: Kelly Boks (3rd season)

Top returning players: Brady Roys (sr.-1s), Andrew Fulton (jr.-3s), Ben Vasquez (jr.-1d), Ryan Peterson (jr.-2s)

Other contributors: Devon Struble (jr.), Max Yoder (jr.), Tyler McCall (so.), Alexander Reinbold (fr.)

Outlook: The Orioles have a full squad from the start of practice, a step forward in the rebuilding of their program. Look for a corresponding improvement in results as well.

EATON RAPIDS

Last year: 2nd

Coach: Ryan Anderson (6th season)

Top returning players: Colton Wolfe (sr.-2s), Tanner Jones (sr.-3d), Patrick Maher (sr.-4s), Alex Arrington (sr.-2d), Mitchell Poyer (sr.-3d), Nick Mead (sr.)

Other contributors: Brevin Buell (jr.)

Outlook: The Greyhounds return six seniors, all of whom have at least two years of varsity experience. So a run at Gold power Jackson Lumen Christi for the league title is not out of the question.

MASON

Last year: 3rd (6-4-1)

Coach: James Granger (1st season)

Top returning players: Brendan Martin (sr.), Clayton Parsons (sr.), Nick Gandhi (jr.), Dane Rosseter (jr.), Spencer Shattuck (jr.), Joe Wassner (jr.), Ryan Taylor (so.)

Other contributors: Devon Killebrew, Noah Frankforter

Outlook: The Bulldogs will be young, and depth will be an issue. With perennial power Jackson Lumen Christi in the league, first place is likely out of reach. But second is an attainable goal.

WAVERLY

Last year: 6th

Coach: Jerry Smith (1st season)

Top returning players: Dean Reik (sr.-1s), Kevin Rubino (sr.-2s) David Sturdivant (so.), Justin Gorman (so.)

Other contributors: Jared Andrews (fr.)

Outlook: The Warriors struggled to keep the program alive last year after having their funding cut just before the season started, and the struggles continue. Reik and Rubino will provide a solid base, but numbers will again be a problem.

CAAC WHITE

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Lansing Catholic, 2. Portland, 3. Williamston, 4. Lakewood, 5. Corunna

Top players: Chance Conley (Portland), Michael Sienko (Williamston), Matt Heeder (Lansing Catholic)

CORUNNA

Last year: 5th

Coach: Scott Sansom (4th season, 1st since 2010)

Top returning players: Devon Limbaugh (sr.-1s), Chance Patrick (jr.-2s), Scott Constine (sr.-1d), Zach LaMay (sr.-1d), Adam Constine (so.-2d), Tyler Birchmeier (jr.-2d), Josh Kelpinski (sr.), Noah Clayton (jr.), Manny Montoya (jr.-3d), Michael Newman (so.-3d)

Other contributors: Steven Runyan (jr.), Connor Svrcek (fr.)

Outlook: The Cavaliers return their top singles player and doubles team, but the rest of the team is relatively inexperienced. Cracking the top three in the White is probably out of reach, but moving up to fourth is possible.

LAKEWOOD

Last year: 4th (6-5)

Coach: Marty Snoap (15th season, 1st since 2002)

Top returning players: David Parks (sr.), Stephen Nisbet (sr), Parker Haskin (jr.), Garrett Phelps (jr.), Alex Everts (jr.), Ray Altoft (so.), Zachary Enz (jr.)

Other contributors: Noah Grawburg (fr.), Spencer Heyl (fr.)

Outlook: The Vikings are having a hard time with numbers after graduating eight seniors from last year’s team. All nine players who came out for the team are listed above.

LANSING CATHOLIC

Last year: 1st (14-2, 4-0)

Coach: Ron Landfair (11th season)

Top returning players: Matt Heeder (so.-1s), Anthony Davis (jr.-2s), Jake Johnson (sr.-1d), Chris Castellani (jr.-1d), Emmett Lehman (jr.-2d), Shafi Afandiyev (sr.-3s), Steven Knape (sr.-2d)

Other contributors: Ben Clark (so.-3d), Jack VonAchen (so.-3d), Matt DeLaFe (so.-4d)

Outlook: The Cougars return the bulk of the team that finished just a point behind state champion Ann Arbor Greenhills at last year’s Division 4 state finals, and should make a run at ending Greenhills’ four-year hold on the state title. Heeder won the individual state championship as a sophomore, and will be in the hunt for the top spot again as a senior. In the toughest Division 4 league in the state, Lansing Catholic has won six of the last eight titles, and will be the favorite this year.

PORTLAND

Last year: 2nd (7-2, 3-1)

Coach: Jim Niebling (23rd season)

Top returning players: Chance Conley (sr.), Ricky Simon (sr.), Cameron Simon (sr.), Bryce Palmiter(sr.), Colin Gensterblum (jr.), Zach Platte (jr.), Clayton Teachout (sr.)

Other contributors: Austin Bruce (so.), Dan Davis (jr.), Asher Dorshimer (jr.), Chandler Ferris (jr.), Lane Fogarty (so.), Branden Foote (jr.), Nathan Goering (jr.), Mason Haggard (sr.), Alex Hoppes (jr.), Nathan Ruddy (so.), Tyler Socher (sr.), Bailey VanHouten (fr.)

Outlook: The Raiders finished fourth in the state in last year’s state finals, led by Division 4 singles state champion Conley and fourth singles state runner-up Simon. But Portland will have to replace half of the starters from the 2011 squad. Still, the Raiders should give Lansing Catholic a stern challenge in the White and the regional as usual.

WILLIAMSTON

Last year: 3rd (12-7, 2-2)

Coach: Jennifer Nalepa (1st season)

Top returning players: Michael Sienko (sr.-1s), Brandon Erickson (sr.-3s), Eric McCoy (sr.-4s), Will Sevic (jr.-2d), Nick Tingley (sr.-2d)

Outlook: The Hornets finished 10th in the state last year, but that was the third-best finish among teams in the White, demonstrating the strength of the league. Sienko won the Division 4 second singles state title as a freshman, and was the state runner-up in first singles the past two years. Winning its first league title since 2009 (when they finished as Division 4 state runner-up) may be a tall order, but Williamston is nobody’s pushover, and may very well continue a seven-year streak of advancing to the state finals.

TRI-VALLEY CONFERENCE (TVC)

Coaches’ predictions: 1. Essexville Garber, 2. Midland Bullock Creek, 3. Caro, 4. Chesaning, 5. Ithaca, 6. Alma, 7. Hemlock, 8. Frankenmuth, 9. Ovid-Elsie

OVID-ELSIE

Last year: 7th (0-10)

Coach: Ralph Kridner (4th season)

Top returning players: Jacob Richards (sr.), Ian McKenzie (sr.), Brandon Everts (sr.)

Other contributors: Alex Arnst (fr.), Jack Price (fr.), Kyle Wendling (fr.), Skilar Schroeder (so.)

Outlook: The Marauders began practice with just seven players, three of them freshmen. So calling this season a rebuilding year might be an understatement.

ITHACA

Last year: 9th (3-10)

Coach: Marc Mercer (3rd season)

Top returning players: Travis Cojocar (sr.-3s), Drew Tucker (sr.-4s), Dylan Sherman (sr.-2d), Derian Lorentz (jr.-1d), Jesse Cunningham (jr.-3d), Nathan Falk (so.-2d), Jacob Oszust (so.-4d)

Other contributors: Kyle Augustine (fr.), Brendan Malek (so.)

Outlook: The Yellowjackets will look to build on some encouraging late-season results from last year’s young team. If they can continue to improve, Ithaca can again pull a few surprises in postseason play.

INDEPENDENT

LESLIE/LANSING CHRISTIAN

Last year: 3rd in SMAA

Coach: Dick Winters (10th season)

Top returning players: Marc Fields (sr.), Luke Greydanus (jr.), Bradley Houston (sr.), Tucker Riffle (jr.), Colin Skromme (sr.), Kaleb Weinstein (so.), David Ziegler-Crowl (so.)

Other contributors: Jordan Beasley (fr.), Reese Brockhaus (fr.), R.J. Hector (sr.), Daniel Jacobson (fr.), Jacob McDowell (fr.), Jordan Salinas (so.), Jay Tropf (sr.), Jeffrey Waldmiller (jr.)

Outlook: With the dissolution of the SMAA, the fourth-year combined program will compete as an independent. Seven players will need to be replaced from last year’s squad, which finished sixth in its regional. But Fields and Skromme bring three years of varsity experience to the 2012 team.

–Compiled by Scott Yoshonis and Jack Dowd

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