It should be a competitive season for girls tennis in the Mountain Valley Conference as Winthrop and Hall-Dale will once again contend for the crown.

The Ramblers are led by returning Kennebec Journal Girls Tennis Player of the Year Megan Chamberland, who advanced to the Round of 32 individual tournament last season.

“I’ve been playing indoors in Augusta all winter working on my serve and being more aggressive in coming to the net to finish those points out,” said Chamberland, a senior.

After finishing 10-2 last season, Winthrop enters this campaign with lofty expectations.

“We got pretty high expectations. Our goal is to win MVCs,” Chamberland said.

In the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference, defending champ Waterville returns several key players as it tries to contend once again.

Waterville is coming off a 12-0 regular season last spring and has four juniors and only one senior.

“We are looking for another strong season of Purple Panthers tennis,” coach Jill Cristan said. “We have a nice mix of experienced players and players who are new to varsity competition.”

The road toward an MVC crown likely will go through Hall-Dale.

The Bulldogs boast a number of quality returning players from a team that went 9-3 a season ago, including senior Rose Warren, who was Chamberland’s equal last season.

“We really like the balance of this team. It has balance and personality,” Hall-Dale coach Guy Cousins said “The seniors are leading by example and helping the incoming players to learn our work ethic and how to be part of the Bulldog tennis culture.”

Oak Hill also expects to field a competitive team. The Raiders return Kassidy Tibbetts, who went undefeated at second singles last year (12-0) and was named to the 2016 MVC Girls Tennis All-Star 1st Team.

Also in the MVC, Nora Ellis and her husband/co-coach Luke Ellis continue to lay the groundwork for a consistent program at Carrabec, which had a solid turnout of 13 players this season. Juniors Kelsey Creamer and Katrina Mason will lead the Cobras.

In the KVAC, Madelyn Dwyer will lead the Maranacook girls team this year after coming off a 10-3 campaign last spring at No. 1 singles as a freshman. Dwyer also qualified for the Round of 48 last season. Losing only one starter from last year’s 9-3 squad, coach Lou Gingras thinks the Black Bears should be a playoff team again this season.

Erskine sophomore Ellie Hodgkin, who advanced to the Round of 32 last spring in her first competitive tennis season as a freshman, could also be a factor this spring.

“I’ve been working on my footwork and my forehand since last season,” she said. “I want to get back (to the individual tournament) and do a little bit better.”

At Mt. Blue, Judy Upham enters her 18th season at the helm and is optimistic despite losing six starters to graduation.

“We will find a way to improve skills while having fun” she said.

Rivals Messalonskee and Winslow also will be looking to the future this season. Lynn Richard takes over the Eagles program this season and had 21 players turn out for the program.

Winslow’s Linda McCann also runs a no-cut program and said the lineup may fluctuate early in the season as players gain experience.

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