Madison returns its top five returning players from a team that went 8-4 in the Mountain Valley Conference last spring and will look to challenge perennial frontrunners Hall-Dale and Winthrop for the top honor, particularly with St. Dominic no longer competing in the conference.
“We are pretty heavily stacked with seniors so we are a veteran team,” Madison coach Travis Rogers said. “In all honesty, I think we are going to be one of the top two teams besides Hall-Dale in the MVC.”
Senior Steven Ouellette will lead Madison. Ouellette said he hopes to improve on his performance last season, which saw him advance to the Round of 48 at the state singles tournament.
“We have quite a few four-year players who held the program together and we got a great coach who pushes us to be the best we can be,” Ouellette said.
An intriguing match to watch this spring comes May 10 — weather permitting, of course — when Ouellette faces off against Hall-Dale senior Malcolm Avore, who went a combined 14-1 in the regular season and playoffs last spring as the team’s No. 2 singles player.
“I have had much more time to practice this winter and I’m more aggressive this year,” Avore said. “Last year, I would stay back and hope to out rally my opponent. Now I’m looking to force it against them.”
At Winthrop, Kelsey Ouellette takes over the program and inherits a team that went 7-5 last season. Senior Brogan Plossay returns and will play No. 1 singles for the Ramblers.
“This season, we’re really focusing on building and strengthening basic tennis skill sets. This group of players has a lot of potential and I’m really excited to see how we progress as a team,” Ouellette said.
It was a challenging spring for area teams, with many forced to practice in crowded gyms thanks to an unforgiving winter.
“We are hoping to see the courts by April break,” Carrabec coach Luke Ellis said. “We have training in the gym, doing a lot of stuff in the air, conditioning and cross training.”
Still, Ellis is excited to see what his team can do this spring once the courts are cleared thanks in large part to senior A.J. Foss and his teammates.
“I’ve never had a team where the first, second and third singles players can win. I’m really excited,” Ellis added.
In the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, Cony coach Tom Hinds is excited about the example that his top singles player — junior Sean Tenney — sets on and off the court.
“He might just be the best kid I’ve ever coached from a sportsmanship perspective,” said Hinds, who has been coaching high school sports since 1987.
Hinds added that Tenney is a player who “doesn’t have a weakness.”
“He can serve, covers a lot of ground and he can volley,” he said.
Coming of a 9-3 season, longtime Winslow coach David Deas said his team will be strong at the singles positions. Junior Josh Vashon played No. 1 doubles last year and he will be one of the Black Raiders’ top three singles players, along with classmate Jake Lapierre.
Across the river, Waterville has the majority of its team returning from a 10-2 season last season. Coach Rob Disch will look for junior Soren Nyhus and senior John Violette to help lead the team.
Mt. Blue looks to build off a strong season (11-4 in KVAC Class A) and compete for a title in tough Class A North again this season.
Mt. Blue lost its top four players to graduation and will look for seniors Tom Marshall, Tristin McFarlane and Andrew Haszko to step up, coach Zac Conlogue said.
Jim Goodwin and Jordan Hale are the new coaches at Skowhegan.
With a senior-laden roster, the Indians should improve from its 1-11 mark last season.