With two of its top six singles players back in even more important roles and other returnees and newcomers aiming to make a difference, the Londonderry High boys’ tennis team steps into the 2015 season with reason for optimism.
Coach Janice Norwesh’s 2014 Lancer crew enjoyed a strong 11-3 season but had the campaign end with a 6-3 loss to the Winnacunnet High Warriors of Hampton in the tournament quarterfinals.
Four of the top six singles players from that 2014 team are gone, but returnees Cam Letalien and Dan Pleva have taken their moves up the singles ladder seriously and prepared themselves for heightened roles with off-season efforts.
Senior Letalien played his first competitive tennis last spring, starting in the sixth singles spot but playing at five and then four before the campaign was over. He lines up as the Lancers’ number one guy at the start of the present season. And Pleva is set at second singles to start with.
“Dan and Cam worked all winter on their games, also knowing they would be leading the squad with the Herculean challenge of going into positions one and two,” said Norwesh.
Other returnees include juniors Sean Enright (presently number three singles) and Luc Velie (fourth singles) and senior Cody Woods (sixth singles).
The team’s promising newcomers include number five singles player Ryan Leo (a freshman), his fellow ninth graders Tyler Cullen, Brian Parrot, and Denis Geiger, juniors Casey Tardif and Gage Johnson, and sophomore Kevin Letalien.
“Some of the newcomers have tennis experience, but the ones without are like fresh pieces of clay waiting to be molded,” said the coach. “After our great year last year with very little experience behind the players, I am not worried what these wonderful athletes will produce.”
When asked what the keys will be to a successful season for her 2015 bunch, Norwesh said, “I go into this season with no expectations. For me, success is not rated in the win or loss columns but by what goals we are able to accomplish with this young, exciting team. Teaching these boys to be better tennis players and working together as a team is what I believe makes us successful.”
In looking at the make-up of the Lancers’ division, the coach stated that she expects Bedford, Hanover, Derryfield of Manchester, and Keene to be among the top contingents.
The LHS men’s new campaign started officially in Hampton against the Winnacunnet Warriors Monday, April 6 with a rather rocky start in chilly conditions.
“Despite an 0-8 loss to Winnacunnet, I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” said Norwesh. “It was 39 degrees with a strong wind, but there were no bagels (shutouts). There were some long rallies and many deuce games. The Lancers walked away beaten but far from defeated.”
The tightest singles matches were played by Woods (4-8), Leo (3-8), and Velie (3-8).