BISHOP EUSTACE CRUSADERS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Bishop Eustace graduated seven members of the 2019 team, including its entire starting singles lineup, so this year’s squad will have a much different look. The top returner is junior Isabella Anzideo, who played second doubles as a sophomore and will look to move into a singles position. Sophomore Ava Ronning showed promise as a rookie, as she gained experience at doubles. She will be another key player this fall. Ella Axelson is another sophomore who hopes to have an impact. The Crusaders will be relying on several newcomers to fill out the rest of the lineup.
OUTLOOK: Last year was a rare losing season for Bishop Eustace—one of the area’s premier programs—but the Crusaders were still competitive in most of their matches and qualified for the playoffs on their way to a 7-10 record. They hope to rebuild this fall around a new set of standouts.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Although Cherokee graduated its top two singles players, many young players cut their teeth on the varsity level last season and should continue to improve this fall. That includes sophomore Samantha Sisti, who earned the third singles job as a rookie and will be one of the candidates to move into the top spot. Her sister, sophomore Jessica Sisti, played first doubles as a freshman and also saw time at singles. Junior Estelle Wang and sophomore Shruti Mandrekar are other returning starters who played mostly second doubles together. Gabriella Hyman is another member of the talented sophomore class and junior Ava Dorr is expected to play a role as well.
OUTLOOK: The Chiefs were in rebuilding mode last year as they went 3-13 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. But their young core earned valuable experience and the payoff will start to come this season.
CHERRY HI LL EAST COUGARS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cherry Hill East graduated a stellar senior class, including five starters, but is excited about the potential of its returners. Junior Elliana Tonghini was part of the first doubles team that reached the semifinals of the South Jersey Interscholastic Championships (SJIC). She will look to move into a singles role. Senior Sophia Pavlenko, the other returning starter, played second doubles and made the SJIC quarterfinals. Senior Lisa Gorbati and junior Kristina Battsogt made the SJIC B doubles semifinals, and other returners hoping to crack the lineup are senior Nancy Chi and sophomore Julia Chan.
OUTLOOK: The 2019 season was another memorable one for the Cougars, who went 19-5 and repeated as South Jersey Group IV champions, their 18th title in the last 21 years. There are certainly big shoes to fill, but expectations remain high.
CHERRY HILL WEST LIONS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Neli Dedkova emerged as Cherry Hill West’s No. 1 singles player last year and put together a historic season. Not only did she compile a 16-2 record during team matches, but she also became the first player in program history to win the Camden County Tournament, as she went 40 in the tourney without dropping a set. Dedkova also competed in the state singles tournament and is primed for a big junior season. Second singles Rosemary Villatoro and third singles Leann He also return and will serve as senior leaders. Senior Abby Dubitsky and sophomore Cynthia Chang, who were doubles partners last year and competed mostly in the No. 1 spot, are also back in the fold. Other experienced returners are seniors Cassidy Mazer and Hannah Reich.
OUTLOOK: With almost the entire starting lineup back, the Lions are a good bet to improve on last year’s record and it will be interesting to see what Dedkova can do as an upperclassman.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: After a promising season as a freshman, Carlee Cristella really broke out last year as a sophomore. She compiled a 24-5 record— including a victory at the state singles tournament—and captured the singles title at the Gloucester County Tournament. She should be one of the best players in the area this fall. Clearview brings back its other two singles starters as well. Sophomore Emily Miscioscia earned the No. 2 spot as a rookie and was outstanding in team matches, posting an 18-2 record. Senior Samantha Deeney made the leap from second doubles to third singles and went 14-6 during team matches. The entire doubles lineup graduated, so newcomers will have to fill out the roster. Junior Brooke McGuigan is one of the players looking to crack the lineup.
OUTLOOK: The Pioneers’ 15-4 record last year included a perfect 8-0 mark in the Tri-County Royal en route to the division championship, and they also reached the sectional quarterfinals. With Cristella leading the way, another successful campaign is on the horizon.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Five starters are back for Eastern, including juniors Nadine Litvak and Abby Serata, who played second and third singles, respectively, in their first season on varsity. They should be much improved with a year of experience and will look to lead the way this fall. Lela Phung is another promising junior who played first doubles and could possibly move into a singles role. Senior Sydney Gold and junior Lily Coyne competed at second doubles together, and junior Erin Lee will also look to have an impact.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings went 9-7 and lost in the first round of the playoffs last year. With a solid nucleus in place, they have the potential for another winning season and a longer playoff run.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Only two starters return for Haddonfield, both of them seniors. Lily Hanna has played third singles the last two years and posted a 29-8 record in 2019. She also reached the quarterfinals of the Camden County Tournament and could be ready to move into the top spot. Kate Morris moved into the starting lineup at second doubles as a junior and reached the county final while compiling a 19-9 record. She will contribute at either singles or doubles. Both Hanna and Morris were named to the all-Group II first team by the South Jersey Tennis Coaches Association. Alexandra McDonnell, Camryn Fortunato, Bella Jole, Paige Hodges and Ava Fitzgerald are other experienced seniors, while Sammy Sirover, Ava Grookett and Tina Tian are sophomores who showed potential as rookies and expect to take on bigger roles.
OUTLOOK: The Bulldawgs—who went 23-5 and reached the state semifinals last year—are shooting for their 19th sectional title in a row this fall, an amazing streak. Although there are big spots to fill throughout the lineup, it is not wise to underestimate Haddonfield.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kingsway graduated its top two singles players but brings back No. 3 Delaney Patella, who broke into the lineup as a sophomore and should continue to make progress as a junior. She is in line for a singles position again, maybe even the top spot. Senior Julia Nocentino is another key veteran who competed at first doubles last year and compiled a 15-5 record during team matches. Sophomore Rebecca Sirko is the other returning starter; she played second doubles and went 13-5 in team matches. Junior Maddie Phun will also look to contribute and several talented freshmen could make a push for varsity spots.
OUTLOOK: Despite having an inexperienced squad, the Dragons posted a 10-8 record last year and lost in the first round of the playoffs. They have the potential for another solid campaign under new head coach Drew Laverty, who has enjoyed a successful run leading the Kingsway boys program.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Rhea Sethi grabbed the first singles spot as a freshman last year and played like anything but a rookie. She compiled an impressive 14-5 record during team matches and has high hopes for her sophomore season. Lenape also brings back third singles Grace Huang, a junior who went 11-9 in team matches. Junior Arti Singh could also move into a singles spot after competing at first doubles as a sophomore. Other contributors are senior Marisa Riley and junior Amanda Geraci, who played second doubles together last year. Sophomore Anushka Gangupanthulu will also look to play a role.
OUTLOOK: The Indians made great strides in 2019, as their 14-5 record was a 12-win improvement from the year before and they also reached the sectional final after losing in the first round the previous season. With Sethi leading the way, the progress should continue this fall.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Moorestown graduated its top two singles players but is happy to welcome back senior Paige O’Neil, who filled the third spot and won 20 matches during team play and reached the round of 16 at the South Jersey Inter- scholastic Championships (SJIC). She will look to move into the top spot and is primed for a big final season. The other returning starters are juniors Maya Butani and Lia Streibich, who competed at second doubles together and made the quarterfinals of the SJIC. Juniors Avani Giri and Kaitlyn Burkhart are other returners expected to contribute.
OUTLOOK: The Quakers’ 20-5 season in 2019 featured their second straight sectional championship and 29th in the last 31 years. They will continue to set the bar high in 2020.
MOORESTOWN FRIENDS FOXES
PLAYERS TO WATCH: It’s a new era at Moorestown Friends following the graduation of Renna Mohsen-Breen, who played first singles every year of her career and finished with a school-record 115 wins. But there is plenty of talent remaining on the roster, and junior Bella Pescatore is ready to take over the top spot after playing second singles each of her first two seasons. She reached the final of the South Jersey Interscholastic Championships (SJIC) last year—losing to Mohsen-Breen—and advanced to the fourth round of the state singles tourna- ment. Three doubles starters are also back in the fold. Junior Skye Mada was part of the No. 1 team, which made the semifinals of the SJIC, and could move into a singles spot. Senior Natalie Julian and junior Roma Jha are also back after competing at second doubles together. Sophomore Julie Tourtellotte, juniors Kathryn Sebastian and Katerina Kostopolos and seniors Lauren Kam, Nia Hipps and Cara Savitz are hoping to contribute as well.
OUTLOOK: Last season was one to remember for the Foxes, as they went 23-1 to set a school record for wins and repeated as state champi- ons. They also reached the Tournament of Champions final and won the Friends Schools League for the third consecutive year. There is obviously no replacing Mohsen-Breen, but the program will continue to be a force.
PAUL VI EAGLES
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Erin Vermette has been a varsity starter since her sophomore season and played first singles last year. She will look to lead the way for Paul VI again in her final campaign. The Eagles also bring back junior Emma Foursha, who cracked the lineup at second singles as a sophomore, and senior Alexia Lao, who saw time at third singles and first doubles before getting injured. Junior Sydney Crawbuck is another returning starter who played mostly at second doubles, and senior Kyra McKeown also has experience at doubles. Emily Karpowicz is another senior expected to contribute.
OUTLOOK: The Eagles were in rebuilding mode last year and should be in store for a few more wins this season behind veteran players like Vermette and Foursha.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Four starters are back for Seneca, including senior singles players Rylee Morrison and Kierstyn Fenimore. Morrison moved up from first doubles as a sophomore to second singles last year and handled the jump well. She is a candidate to take over the top spot, along with Fenimore, who played third singles and compiled a 20-4 record during team matches. She also won two matches at the South Jersey Interscholastic Championships (SJIC). The other key returners are senior Lara Narkiewiecz and junior Abigail Lewis, who competed at first doubles together and went 176 in team matches, along with two victories at the SJIC. Several varsity newcomers will look to fill out the rest of the lineup, including Hannah Diamond and Alexandra Tortorelli.
OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles’ successful 2019 season featured a 17-7 record—including a perfect 12-0 mark in the Olympic National—and a trip to the sectional final. They have some spots to fill but another division championship is certainly in play.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The entire starting lineup is back for Shawnee, beginning with sophomore first singles Samantha Tepes. Her remarkable rookie season included the Olympic American singles championship, a trip to the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Interscholastic Championships (SJIC) and a win in the state singles tournament. It will be exciting to see what she does for an encore. Maya Doshi was another freshman phenom last year; she played second singles and compiled a 19-2 record during team matches to go with two wins at the SJIC. Senior Mary Kate Clapperton rounds out the strong singles lineup after posting a 17-3 record in the third spot last year. Senior Ella Purfield is a veteran doubles player who competed at No. 1 with senior Caroline Galberg last year, while junior Michaela Pierznik and sophomore Kalena Gatesman were partners at second doubles.
OUTLOOK: The Renegades went 17-3 and made a run to the sectional final last year despite having four underclassmen in the lineup, including three rookies. With every starter back in the mix, the sky is the limit for this talented squad.
WASHI NGTON TOWNSHIP MINUTEMAIDS
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Washington Township graduated all three of its starting singles players from last year but brings back several experienced doubles players who should be ready to make the leap. That includes junior Raina Saraiya, who broke into the lineup as a sophomore and competed mostly at first doubles. She was part of the team that reached the semifinals at the Gloucester County Tournament. Another top returner is senior Elyssa Koerner, who rotated between first and second doubles and compiled a 9-9 record during team matches. Junior Noelle Simmons also showed potential at doubles, and senior Amirah Byrd is another veteran hoping to earn a spot.
OUTLOOK: The Minutemaids were competitive in most of their matches last fall and finished with an 8-11 record. Although their schedule remains tough, they expect to make some noise again this season.
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 5 (July 2020).
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