Waterville’s Karin Zimba hits a forehand during a doubles match last season against host Madison. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Several central Maine high school tennis teams turned in strong seasons last spring.

A year later, however, and several of those squads are resetting their rosters after the graduation of top players.

The Waterville girls tennis team — which beat Cape Elizabeth in the Class B title match last season — enters the spring with a new coach in Jon Hart, and a lineup that will not include former top player Inga Zimba, who made the Round of 16 of the state singles tournament last year as a senior.

Hart does have veteran leadership returning for the Purple Panthers, as Keira Gilman and Karin Zimba — a doubles tandem last year — will move up to singles. Hart is also counting on Emily Campbell, who provides versatility as a singles or doubles player. Hart said his newer players show a strong amount of athleticism.

“I think, other than Keira and Karin, every (spot) is up in the air,” Hart said. “You can already see the improvement (with the new players).”

Hart, whose coaching background is in football and hockey, said he’s thankful for the veteran players to help acclimate to coaching tennis.


“The No. 1 reason I took this job is the kids,” said Hart. “The character of these kids, I’d put up against any team in the state. The character is amazing. They’re great kids, they’re fun, they’re coachable.”

It’s a similar situation in Farmingdale for the Hall-Dale girls, the defending Class C champions. The Bulldogs graduated the area’s top female player in Naomi Lynch, who reached the quarterfinals of the state singles tournament last season.

The Bulldogs, who went 15-0 last year, return a strong senior class, led by senior captains Ella Schaab and Kayla Lee. Head coach Guy Cousins knows his team is turning the page from last year’s title run, but looks for the team to remain competitive.

“The returning members of this team are ready to take on the challenge of a new season with renewed energy and determination,” Cousins said in an email. “The girls bring with them plenty of experience and will be ready to play.”

Skowhegan, which is coming off a historic year as a girls program by reaching the Class A North semifinals, is also in the process of revamping its lineup after the loss of a talented senior class.

“We’ve got a pretty good mix of upperclassmen and underclassmen,” Skowhegan head coach Andrew Staples said. “We’re teaching the underclassmen and getting the upperclassmen ready for matches… I’ve got four contenders for singles spots that are all pretty solid and consistent, so I’m happy there. Right now, it’s just making tough decisions on where to put kids and seeing how it shakes out. But I think we’ll be pretty competitive.”

Hall-Dale’s Ella Schaab competes during a third singles match at the Mountain Valley Conference championships against Spruce Mountain last season in Farmingdale. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Joey Ramsdell, Sarah Johnson, Kate Kelso and Zoey Lambke are among the players battling for singles spots for the River Hawks.

Maine Central Institute moves from Class B to Class C this season and returns its top singles player Lidia Gomez Carrera, who is from Spain.

On the boys side, Mt. Blue head coach Zac Conlogue is feeling good about his team’s prospects entering the season. The Cougars reached the Class A North quarterfinals last season. Mt. Blue will have a younger group entering the season, led by junior Carson Zundel. The Cougars also have a strong talent in transfer student Bernardo Tovar, from Mexico. Mt. Blue also boasts a roster of 19 players. While depth may not be an issue, gaining experience during the season will be a key for the Cougars.

“(Tovar) is pretty solid, he’s probably No. 1 (singles) for us,” Conlogue said. “I think the outlook is pretty good. We’re just young. The more balls we get to hit, the better off we’re going to be. A lot of my guys have played exhibition matches, but they’ve never played a countable match… I have our schedule packed with scrimmages before we actually end up playing (the regular season). There is a little more pressure starting than playing an exhibition match. My guys, I’ve lucked out, they’re pretty dedicated. Brand new to tennis, a lot of them, but they’re working hard.”

Waterville won the Class B North championship last season before losing to Yarmouth in the state final. The Purple Panthers will try and stay competitive despite the loss of graduated players Josiah Bloom, Owen Evans, Charlie Haberstock, all of whom competed in the state singles tournament. The Purple Panthers return Logan Tardif, Cole Bazakas and Nick Poulin.

In Class C, Winthrop, which won the Mountain Valley Conference title, will have a new coach in Dania Price. The Ramblers lost top players Josh Deanda-Whaley and Noah Grube, but return senior Nathan Hachey.


Dave Dyer — 621-5640


Twitter: @Dave_Dyer

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