An abundance of strong tennis players and teams are competing across central Maine this spring.

Mt. Blue senior Chris Marshall will move into the No. 1 singles spot  this year after making the Round of 48 at the state singles tournament each of the last two seasons. He went 12-2 t No. 3 singles last season.

“I trained a lot over the summer, played in a couple of tournaments and ended up beating Coach (Zac Conlogue), which was nice,” Marshall said. “I think my placement is slightly better and my movement off the ball is better.  I would really like to make it to the Round of 32 after two years of being in the Round of 48.”

Cougars coach Conlogue enters his sixth season and hopes his team can continue to improve after going 8-6 last season.

“From two on, they are all right together and pretty good. We’ve been around 15-20 guys coming out so turnout is not a problem.”

Skowhegan enters the second of coach Paul Deagle’s four-year rebuilding plan. The Indians went 0-12 last season but return sophomore Dawson Turcotte, who is poised for a strong season at No. 1 singles.

“This year I picked it up a lot more playing five to six times a week and my game got better,” Turcotte said.  “I’m more consistent and my reactions to what happens on the court is better. … We’ll be good in a couple of years because we have good players entering the program.”

Waterville returns six players from a team that went 12-0 before it fell to Caribou in the Class B North final. The Purple Panthers also feature three new players as turnout remains strong. First-year coach Ken Boykin says his team looks to have a balanced lineup this season, with at least five players vying for the top three singles positions. Boykin is excited about the athleticism of Waterville’s three new team members, including sophomores Jay Brock and Owen Evans, and freshman Adam Sirois.

Boykin said all three could produce right away.

The Messalonskee boys program is back after a three-year hiatus. The Eagles are a young team with five freshmen but seniors Matt Brown and Seth Main have high school tennis experience elsewhere. Cooper Barrett is also in line for a strong season.

“We have enough to qualify as a team with eight kids. I’m especially excited because five of them are freshmen,” said coach Lynn Richard.

Cony coach Tom Hinds will be pulling double duty this spring as the girls and boys coach. Hinds is optimistic senior exchange student Mattaeo Montrucchio can step in and contribute if he can return from an offseason injury. Newcomer Reed Hopkins could also make an impact.

“After one week of practice, he is the best beginner tennis player I’ve ever seen,” Hinds said.

Maine Central Institute will turn to junior Ethan Varney, who went 9-3 last season, and senior Pedro Fernandes.

“I played a lot of tennis at the club and improved by playing a different variety of people,” Varney said. “I would like to make it into the individual tournament.”

Hall-Dale senior Isaac Lawrence moves up to No. 1 singles this season on a team that went 9-1 and was the Class C South runner-up a year ago.

“I have more tournament experience and been in some USTA events,” he said. “I’d say my serve has improved and so has my backhand. Our team has the goal to be MVC champs this year and that’s what we are shooting for.”

Senior Jordan Spaulding, last year’s No. 2 singles player for Madison, has some big shoes to fill with Kobe Tibbetts — the Mountain Valley Conference player of the year — having graduated.

“Jordan has taken the challenge seriously, putting in extra time on court all through last summer,” said coach Travis Rogers. “His hard work should pay off this season, as his shots have become more consistent and reliable. If his footwork continues to improve throughout the season, expect him to be a difficult opponent for the other top players in the conference.”

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