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by Marc Narducci

Bishop Eustace Crusaders

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Returning veterans include junior Eric Mintz, sophomore Jeremey Muhr and seniors Bobby Bohny and Christian Pettinelli. In addition, Christian Akerly is among the newcomers expected to add depth to the team.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: It appears as if Paul VI and Eustace will be the frontrunners in the Olympic National.

OUTLOOK: With a goal of improving last year's 7-9 record, the Crusaders certainly have a chance to both contend for a division title and vie for a spot among the top 10 South Jersey teams.

Cherokee Chiefs

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Chiefs return two letter winners who both played second doubles, senior Vinesh Kanthan and sophomore Michael Seligman. Among the key newcomers are junior Matt Reyes and sophomore Connor Style.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: With Shawnee moving to the Olympic American, it appears as if the Renegades will be the team to beat.

OUTLOOK: The Chiefs went 15-5 overall and 6-2 in the division to capture the Olympic American. With key losses to graduation and current junior Ben Bertino having moved to China, this is a rebuilding season for the Chiefs.

Cherry Hill East Cougars

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Hank Davis returns after playing singles last season. Seniors C.J. Smith and Jordan Elmowitz return after competing in doubles. Senior Leo Kopp, who played doubles, is a key returning letter winner. Sophomore Nikhil Shukla, the only freshman last year to make the JV team, looks to contribute on varsity.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Shawnee appears to be the Olympic American favorite, while Lenape appears to be the top challenger.

OUTLOOK: The Cougars were hurt by the fact that senior Alfred Gonzalez, the No. 1 singles player, transferred to a school in Florida. Without Gonzalez, the Cougars can’t be listed as favorites, but this is still a strong program, capable of contending and improving on last year’s 12-7 record.

Cherry Hill West Lions

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Edgar Aliferov earned first-team all-conference honors at No. 1 singles. Senior Jordan Greene played No. 3 singles last year. Junior Max Matez and sophomore Tyler Fung were second-team all-conference at No. 2 doubles. Senior Geoff Bondad was second-team all-conference at No. 1 doubles.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Shawnee is the favorite in the Olympic Conference American Division.

OUTLOOK: The Lions were 7-12 last season and there is enough experience to reverse the record. West has enough to contend for the division title, but Shawnee clearly remains the favorite.

Eastern Vikings

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Vikings bring back an experienced team. Senior Prashant Ramesh returns at No. 1 singles. Junior Seth Rose competed at No. 2 singles. Senior Andy Glass was at No. 3 singles. The No. 1 doubles team of seniors Brady Akman and Ray Kaldany were 23-1. Junior Brandon Feldstein returns after playing at No. 2 doubles. Three juniors add depth to this experienced team – Jared Pearl, Eric Zhao and Tanay Hardikar.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Shawnee will be the Vikings’ top competitor in the Olympic American and S.J. Group 4, while Lenape is another team to watch.

OUTLOOK: The Vikings went 19-6 and won the S.J. Group 4 title last season and will be a major threat to repeat. Eastern certainly has the look of a preseason S.J. Top 10 team, if not higher.

Gloucester Catholic Rams PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Rams have an experienced group. Returning veterans include seniors Rich Raspa, Drew Delengowski, Alex Watson, Ryan Schoppy and Chris Harris and juniors Eric Prasalowicz and Mike Vinci.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: The Tri-County Diamond Division has no shortage of contenders, including Woodstown, Pennsville and Glassboro.

OUTLOOK: The Rams expect to be contenders in an extremely balanced division. Coach Tony Sidoti feels his team will be competitive, but realizes that with so many contenders little will be easy in terms of winning the Diamond Division.

Haddonfield Bulldogs

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomore Max Oberholtzer was 29-11 at No. 1 singles. Senior Luke Grabiak was 32-7 at No. 2 singles and senior Matt Godlewski was 32-7 at No. 3. Sophomore Isaac Anderson was 40-5 at No. 1 doubles while senior Sean Campbell was 37-5 at No. 1 doubles. Senior Max Prescott was 35-6 at No. 2 doubles. Players who competed on a 21-1 JV squad are seniors Matt Fleming and Gavin Reed, juniors Grayson Kohs and Joey Moramarco and sophomore Charlie Carr.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Haddonfield should continue to rule in the Colonial Conference. The team to battle for South Jersey supremacy appears to be Moorestown.

OUTLOOK: Coach Jeff Holman (934-169) welcomes back a strong nucleus from a defending state Group 2 championship team. Once again the Bulldogs are a major threat to win another state crown and to battle for the No. 1 spot in South Jersey.

Lenape Indians

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Mike Perrone didn’t play last season but was an all-South Jersey performer as a sophomore. Senior Dan Sha (pictured) was 17-7 at No. 3 singles last year and could be No. 2 this year. Junior Ian Patel was 21-9 at first doubles. Others who saw some varsity time are juniors Steve Acchione, Andrew Isopi and Charlie Shvartsman.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Eastern and Shawnee are the top Olympic Conference teams to watch.

OUTLOOK: The Indians finished 15-5 overall and captured the Olympic American title, and they are capable of duplicating both feats. The return of Perrone is a major boost to a Lenape team that should also be a threat in South Jersey Group 4. Still, Shawnee will be the favorite in the American Division with Eastern also expected to contend.

Moorestown Quakers

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Pierce Cooper returns at No. 1 singles. Sophomore Tyler Blessing competed at No. 2 doubles. Dan Schafhauser and Hamza Husain competed at No. 2 doubles. In addition, freshman Ryan Dickerson is expected to make an immediate impact. The Quakers are guided by one of the all-time best, Bill Kingston, who enters the season 965-173.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Moorestown is always a contender for the No. 1 spot in South Jersey, with schools such as Haddonfield and Shawnee among the other contenders.

OUTLOOK: The Quakers went 23-9 and won the Burlington County Liberty Division and S.J. Group 3 titles, and repeating as champion in both is a realistic goal. Once again, the Quakers will be among the elite in South Jersey.

Moorestown Friends Foxes

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Luke Timber was the No. 1 singles players while senior Jake Brown was No. 3. Also back are the No. 1 doubles team of senior Jarret Berkowitz and junior Eric Harkaway and No. 2 doubles team of senior Karan Hiremath and junior Austin Harris. Both doubles teams were 11-9.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Friends Central, Shipley School and George School will be the top teams in the league.

OUTLOOK: The Foxes finished strong, going 11-11 overall, but winning the South Jersey Non-Public B title. Contending for a sectional title is possible, but the Foxes appear a year away from competing for a title in the difficult Friends League.

Paul VI Eagles PLAYERS TO WATCH: Four experienced seniors are Jim Burns, Jim Connelly, Henry Laigaie and Terance Long.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: Bishop Eustace appears to be the biggest competition for the Eagles.

OUTLOOK: Paul VI will have a new look with first-year head coach Andrew Larzelere, a former player at Haddonfield. The Eagles were division champs last year and, with a solid veteran cast and the enthusiasm that Lazelere brings to the program, the Eagles will again seriously contend for the title.

Seneca Golden Eagles

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The top three singles players from last year return. They are juniors Cooper Morrison, who was No. 1, Matt Riches (No. 2) and Ira Vought (No. 3). Senior Justin Rangel played first doubles. Three players who saw action on second doubles last year are junior Ryan Rossi, sophomore Jake Davies and sophomore Nate Balcerkiewicz.

BIGGEST?COMPETITION: Bishop Eustace and Paul VI are the main contenders in the Olympic Conference National Division.?

OUTLOOK: The Golden Eagles were 6-13 last season but 4-3 in the division. With so many experienced players returning, coach Sue Johnson’s team, while not the favorite, looks to contend. At the least, a winning record is a realistic goal.

Shawnee Renegades

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The Renegades have one of the best returning one-two punches in sophomore Justin Kang and senior Tyler Arsenault, who will both be among the top players in South Jersey. Also back is senior Kyle Sparkman, the Renegades’ No. 3 singles player last season. Seniors Tom Annin, Dan Doyle and Mike Conover are other returning veterans.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: In tennis, Shawnee competes in the Olympic American Division, where rival Lenape and Eastern appear to be the top challengers.

OUTLOOK: The Renegades are not only the American Division favorite, but should start the season being ranked among the top five in South Jersey. This is a team that is capable of winning a sectional and/or state title. Expectations are high, but so is the talent level.

Washington Township Minutemen

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Derek Alfinito played first singles last season. Junior Steven Hauser was at No. 3 singles. Senior Raghav Sahni and junior Jeffrey Holtaway are returning doubles players. Three players with JV experience include junior Anthony Beadling and sophomores Justin Rodriguez and Joseph Cacciacarne. Freshman Chase Eldridge has the potential to earn a varsity spot.

BIGGEST COMPETITION: All the Olympic American teams will be competitive, with Eastern and Cherry Hill East leading the way.

OUTLOOK: After going 4-12 last year, improvement is possible, but it will be difficult to move up in this competitive conference.

Click here for the spring schedules.

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family’s High School Spring Sports Preview, January, 2012.
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