There’s a lot that’s new about the Londonderry High boys’ tennis team this season. With just four returnees on a 13-man team and new head coach Janice Tracy taking over the reins from longtime LHS leader Bill Knee, the Lancers must be referred to as a new-look crew.
But returning veterans and seniors Ryan Broderick, Tim Court, and Matt McKinney, and sophomore Dan Pleva are skilled and have done a whole lot of winning in high school up to now. Londonderry won state championships in both 2010 and 2012 under Knee, and they’ve been in the title mix for some years now.
The returning quartet helped the Lancers get all the way to the Division I semifinals last spring, losing to a Bedford crew that eventually won the state title. And losing veteran stalwarts like Harrison Max and Mike Paquette stings the Lancers more than a little bit. But Tracy likes what she sees from her new charges, and there are reasons for optimism in the Londonderry camp.
“I’m excited about the team. What a great group of boys,” said the coach. “There are a lot of new players who have never really played, but they’re very eager and athletic. The few boys from last year did a great job recruiting to make sure we had a team. We have a lucky 13.”
Broderick played second singles for the Lancers last year, Court was at third singles, and McKinney played fourth singles during the 2013 campaign.
McKinney and Harrison Max played first doubles last spring, and that skilled duo was a finalist in the NHIAA State Individual Tournament last year, finishing a strong second. Broderick and Court played second doubles together last year, and Pleva played some doubles matches on the ladder and will advance to play singles and doubles on the ladder this year.
So the Lancers have the heart of their singles and doubles ladder back for the new campaign, and they’ll look to integrate some newcomers into the mix in an effort to remain at or near the upper echelon of D-I.
The Lancers got the new campaign rolling in fine style by defeating the visiting Memorial bunch by a 6-3 margin this past Monday, April 7.
Dominant singles performances were put forth by Ryan Broderick (8-1), Tim Court (8-0), and Matt McKinney (8-0) in the first three slots, but Dan Pleva and senior newcomer Vinnie Annu suffered hard-luck losses in the fourth and fifth singles slots despite playing well.
However, number six player and junior newcomer Cam Letalien handed his side a 4-2 lead bouncing into doubles by snaring an 8-6 win in his first varsity match.
Tracy’s group put the final touches on the match win, thanks to doubles victories from the tandems of McKinney and Court (an 8-1 thumping) and Broderick and Pleva (an 8-6 decision).
Sophomore Luc Velie, who was on the LHS team last spring but didn’t see match action, and promising newcomer Justin Mayer dropped the decision in the third doubles battle, but the Londonderry crew didn’t wind up needing that duo to win anyway to collect the season-opening victory.
The Londonderry High contingent’s other newcomers include promising players Nate Peabody, Dante Abruzzese, Sean Enright, Cody Woods, and Charlie Whitehead.