Previews: Outlook of the area high school tennis teams

Bow’s Grace Modzeleski reaches to return a shot against Souhegan during a home match last May. The Falcons’ girls and boys tennis teams both boast experience rosters and high hopes for the coming tennis season.

Bow’s Grace Modzeleski reaches to return a shot against Souhegan during a home match last May. The Falcons’ girls and boys tennis teams both boast experience rosters and high hopes for the coming tennis season. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

JOSH SPAULDING / Salmon Press

JOSH SPAULDING / Salmon Press

JOSH SPAULDING / Salmon Press

JOSH SPAULDING / Salmon Press

Bow’s Ben Rondeau returns a forehand during a match against Lebanon on May 1, 2023 at Bow High School. The No. 2 Falcons had a successfull 2023 season, reaching the Division II championship before falling to No. 1 Lebanon, 7-2.

Bow’s Ben Rondeau returns a forehand during a match against Lebanon on May 1, 2023 at Bow High School. The No. 2 Falcons had a successfull 2023 season, reaching the Division II championship before falling to No. 1 Lebanon, 7-2. CHIP GRIFFIN / Photos By Chip

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBELand DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 03-31-2024 7:21 PM

In order to repeat the success of the last few seasons, Bow boys’ tennis will be counting on some younger players to take on bigger roles after losing two seniors from last year and with just one senior on this year’s roster.

Beyond the Falcons’ top four of Aaron Barrieau (senior), Trevor Abel (junior), Patrik Jurcins (junior) and Ben Rondeau (junior), several freshmen and a sophomore will be tasked with providing the team’s depth.

Third-year head coach Jay Yvars highlighted freshmen Milo Cocola, Jacob Gancarz and Jack French as some of the younger players to watch.

“We should be competitive,” Yvars said ahead of Bow’s first match on Tuesday against Coe-Brown. “It’s just getting them back into the groove of things. Fortunately, we have four players who have played last year, so they kind of get it.”

As often is the case at the start of the spring season, inclement weather has limited how much Bow can practice. Still, Yvars hopes that after a runner-up finish and 14-3 record in Division II last season, this year’s group can work its way to a similar level of success.

“Our team goal is to work hard, keep focused and be competitive,” he said. “Overall, we have had a slow start with the weather, but it should not take us long to get back into a good rhythm. We have some good athletes who are competitive.”

BOYS

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CONCORD

Division: I.

Coach: Kevin Parsons (third year).

Last year: 0-14, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Carter Pratt, sr.; Martin Pennington, so.; Carl Sirrianna, jr.; Oliver Quinn, jr.; Weston Koerber, so.; Bennett Cyr, so.

Top newcomers: Piper Kuepper, jr.; Jonah Gaby, so.

Outlook: After going winless in 2023, Concord is looking to turn the tide this spring.

“We are excited for our season to start,” Parsons said. “This year we have doubled our numbers and have had a few new guys come in and make it into our top six. We do have some young new players who are ready to learn. Richie Clar has also joined us as our new assistant coach and has been a huge help with player development.”

Teams to beat: Bedford, Derryfield, Exeter, Dover.

COE-BROWN

Division: II.

Coach: Mark Struthers (third year).

Last year: 2-12, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: James Larson-Clarke, sr.; Owen Perra, sr.; Ciaran Kenyon, jr.; Landon Beattie, jr.; Max Heigis, sr.; Luke Melanson, jr.

Outlook: Struthers is back for his 17th year with Coe-Brown tennis (14 years as the girls’ coach) after a season away. The Bears have six returning starters, but there’s a big dropoff in terms of experience and depth.

“We only have 10 players this year, so we’re trying to rebuild with four younger inexperienced players,” Struthers said.

BISHOP BRADY

Division: III.

Coach: Marianne Thebodeau (first year).

Last year: No team in 2023.

Outlook: The Giants didn’t have a team last season and haven’t fielded a full team since before the pandemic, but now Brady’s roster is at 11 strong.

“This year is a building year with a young team,” Thebodeau said. “We do have a strong freshman, Teddy Yap, who will likely start our season in the No. 1 position. We have been inside and haven’t been able to practice outside like I would have liked, but all the teams are in the same position with that.”

KEARSARGE

Division: III.

Coach: Lynn Miller (ninth year).

Last year: 17-0, D-III champions.

Returning starters: Liam Miller, jr.; Graham West, jr.; Thomas Shepherd, sr.; Eli Whipple, so.; Billy Reid , so.

Top newcomers: Andrew Zielinski, sr.; Ryan Fitzgerald, fr.; Andrew Huff, so.

Outlook: The Cougars have appeared in every championship match over the last three seasons and have taken home the title twice, but Kearsarge is approaching this season one match at a time.

“We have lots of challenge matches still to be played and lots of work to do before our first match,” coach Miller said. “I am pleased to say that all of these starters came back stronger than last year, which is exciting to see. The last three possible starting slots are TBA. Barring injuries, we should be at least as good as we were last year, if not a little better.”

Zielinski, Fitzgerald and Huff are also first-year team members who could challenge for a varsity starting spot.

GIRLS

CONCORD

Division: I.

Coach: Greg Malette (third year)

Last year: 1-13, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Madie Mikkelsen, jr.; Katherine Tewksbury, sr.

Outlook: Concord tennis is seeing the largest turnout that coach Malette has seen as a member of the coaching staff. Mikkelsen is back to defend her No. 1 spot, and Tewksbury provides experience in the top six. Most of the other players on the roster are new to tennis, but “these players are smart and experienced in volleyball, dance and lacrosse,” according to Malette. “Translatable skills from other sports leads to great conversations and noticeable improvements in a short amount of time.”

Malette and boys’ head coach Kevin Parsons are looking to grow the infrastructure around the sport in Concord by “developing a K-8 program for Concord, which involves current and alumni player community outreach, middle school spring sports coaching, and Rundlett Tennis Summer Camp,” according to Malette.

“(This season) we will be working on the technical, mental, physical and emotional aspects of tennis, and I expect each player will represent their school well on and off the court,” Malette said. “My goal is to keep them playing year-round while continuing to offer opportunities to grow the sport in Concord with the next generation of high school players.”

Teams to beat: Exeter, Bedford, Hanover, Dover, Derryfield, Pinkerton.

BOW

Division: II.

Coach: Steve Langevin (third year).

Last year: 9-7, reached quarterfinals.

Returning starters: Jaden Glace, jr.; Grace Modzeleski, jr.; Katie McCabe, jr.; Maddy Desrosiers, jr.; Makaylie Laws, jr.

Top newcomers: Katie Semeraro, sr.; Lilly Gula, jr.; Alivia LaRose, fr.

Outlook: The Falcons return last year’s entire top three of Glace, Modzeleski and McCabe plus Desrosiers and Laws, who played in a few matches in singles and doubles.

“We return our top three but are relatively inexperienced in the bottom half (of the lineup),” Langevin said. “We are hoping to make the tournament and take it from there.”

Teams to beat: Souhegan, Portsmouth, Winnacunnet, Oyster River.

COE-BROWN

Division: II.

Coach: Chris Burns (fourth year).

Last year: 4-10, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Abby Coleman, sr.; Anna Reiff, sr.; Susie Lavoie, sr.

Top newcomers: Mackenzie Phillips, fr.; Scarlett Martyniak, fr.

Outlook: The Bears have three veteran returning starters, talented freshmen and four returning players (juniors Stella Vachon, Anna Hocevar and Charlotte Leas and sophomore Kelli Daniel) moving into starting roles, giving Coe-Brown a good mix of experience.

“I am really excited to watch this team grow and develop as a unit,” Burns said. “Our top seniors have all been playing since they were freshmen, so it will be fun to see them get to play their final season together. Our team goal is to turn things around from last year and try to make the team tournament this year and hopefully send one or two players to the individual tournament as well.”

PEMBROKE

Division: II.

Coach: David Goulet (ninth year).

Last year: 2-12, did not make tournament.

Returning starters: Autumn LeGrande, sr.; Emma Settles, so.; Annika Jawidzik so.

Top newcomers: Julian French, fr.; Rileyanne Caron, fr.

Outlook: LeGrande, Settles and Jawidzik return from last year’s top six, with juniors Lily Russell and Kalie Reynolds moving up the ladder into starting roles this year

“We have 13 girls this year, with high energy,” Goulet said. “The girls from last year’s team are helping the new girls along. We have been playing indoors to sharpen our skills and hope to be competitive this year.”

BISHOP BRADY

Division: III.

Coach: Marianne Thebodeau (first year)

Last year: 6-9, reached prelims.

Returning starters: Madeline Cole-Tucker, sr.; Laura Yap, sr.; Reese Pelletier, sr.; Abigail Michie, sr.; Avery Sahr, jr.; Anya Koshy, jr.; Giulia Conserva, so.

Outlook: “This team has depth and experience. The girls are looking to get back on the outdoor courts to play,” Thibodeau said.

KEARSARGE

Division: III.

Coach: Bubba Williams (first year).

Last year: 13-3, reached semifinals.

Returning starters: Tori Montagna, sr.; Kira Gauntt, jr.; Felicity Kane, so.

Top newcomers: Shilor Poliquin, fr.; Sydney Connolly, fr.; Claire MacCreighton, jr.; Luna Landers, jr.

Outlook: After making the final four in each of the past three seasons and winning a championship in 2022, the Cougars are in a rebuilding year.

“Our goal this season is to be as competitive as possible week in and week out,” Williams said. “Other than our top two players, (Montagna) and (Gauntt), we are a very young and inexperienced team. The phrase ‘this will be a building year’ fits us to a T. As this is my first year at the helm, I don’t have any expectations of which opponents will be at the top of D-III. We will be taking on all teams with the same desire to hold our own and see what happens.”