Lebanon County tennis teams looking for big things
Neither late winter snow storms nor early spring rainfall could keep the Lebanon County scholastic boys tennis teams from getting their 2017 campaigns underway in a fairly timely manner.
With the locals already several matches into their seasons, it's shaping up as another interesting year on the courts.
Perennial county champ Cedar Crest, led by sophomore standout Jack Muraika has already notched a key victory over Section 1 rival Manheim Township; Elco is looking to a bright present and future with a good mix of experience and youth; Annville-Cleona is looking to positively follow up one of its best seasons in recent memory, and Palmyra, with freshman Ben Clary in the top singles spot, is poised to make its presence felt in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division after winning back-to-back Colonial Division titles.
Meanwhile, over at Lebanon and Northern Lebanon it's a struggle to be competitive but both the Cedars and Vikings are doing what they can to move their respective programs forward, armed with the key ingredients of effort and enthusiasm.
So with all of that in mind, and before any more of the season slips away, let's take a closer look at the six Lebanon County boys tennis teams via the capsule previews that follow:
Coach: Joe Heckard, 5th year
Last year's record: 8-5
Key players lost: Julian Dyreyes-Kapp, Colin Myers, Santi Paris
Top returning players: William Klatchko (Jr.), Koy Alwine (Sr.), Drew Speraw (Sr.), Sam Mintz (Sr.)
Promising newcomers: Dan Tobias (Fr.), Liam Nyce (Soph.)
Outlook: A-C had one of its best seasons in a long time in 2016 and is looking to follow it up with another strong spring this time around. There are some significant graduation losses to overcome, but also a good bit of experience and young talent in the fold.
"We are looking to build on our season from last year," Heckard said. "Our goal is to get better every match and set ourselves up for success in May. We lost some of our top players from last year, but a youth movement is looking to fill in the gaps of those who were there last season. Once again our strength is in our numbers, and we compete with each other every day in practice.
Coach: Mike Rohrbach, 13th year
Last year's record: 10-4
Key players lost: Nick Tull, Alex Ellis, & Evan Dissinger
Top returning players: Jack Muraika (Soph.)
Promising newcomers: Dylan Tull (Fr.) Max Mesaros (Soph), Tim Cheng (Sr.), Ryan Knapp (Sr.)
Outlook: The Falcons lost county singles champ Nick Tull to graduation, but have added his promising freshman brother Dylan to a solid lineup fronted by sophomore standout Muraika, making it likely the Falcons will again be the team to beat in the county, as well as a contender in Lancaster-Lebanon Section 1.
"As a team we’re hoping to compete for a county championship," Rohrbach said. "Pushing the big dogs in Section 1, Township and Hempfield, is always a goal. Individually, Jack Muraika and Dylan Tull will hope to make some serious noise at the league and district playoff level."
Coach: Zach Cook, 10th year
Last year's record: 7-7
Key players lost: Linden Bennetch, Christian Stahl
Top returning players: Mason Bennetch (Jr.), Dylan Spitler (Sr.), Dawson Smith (Jr.), Adam Omar (Sr.), Ryan Woelfling (Jr.)
Promising newcomers: Brett Bohannon (Sr.), Cameron Wolgemuth (Jr.), Adler Brown (Jr.), Asher Kemble (Fr.), Gavin Brown (Soph.)
Outlook: The Raiders boast a deep and experienced group of returnees, as well as a promising group of youngsters, which should make them a force to be reckoned with in both the county and in Section 2.
"Key injuries in 2016 hampered the Raiders, but are they are looking to stay healthy and competitive in a top-loaded Section 2," Cook reported. "A large, enthusiastic and athletic freshmen class bodes well for Elco’s tennis future."
Coach: Cathy Uzar, 5th year
Last year's record: 2-10
Key players lost: Cameron Weaver, Austin Ginder
Top returning players: Luke Foster (Jr.) Alex Mease (Jr.), Tavian Sumlin (Jr.), Liam Maguire
Promising newcomers: Deybel Andujar (Jr.), Jacob Collins (Jr.), Cameron Maya (Fr.) Bryce Spangler (Soph.)
Outlook: The Cedars have their work cut out for them again, but Uzar is hopeful that the team's work ethic and enthusiasm will lead to better days ahead.
"We have a young team again, but we have boys who are always willing to work hard and love the game of tennis," Uzar said. "The combination of the two may not give us as many wins as we may like, but it will definitely help to propel us there in the coming years. The hope of the coaching staff is that the boys develop their game, and use the off-season to help us build for a stronger team next year."
Coach: Derek Margetan, 3rd year
Last year's record: 1-10 overall,
Key players lost: Owen Stover, Kyle Moore, Nick Rhoad, Devin Tipton
Top returning players: Nick White (Jr.), Aiden Powell (Jr.), Brenden Madeira
Promising newcomers: Tom Schwartz, Nevin Fink, Dennison Guardado, Bahvya Patel, Liam Powell
Outlook: Like Lebanon, NL faces an uphill climb this season, having lost most of its lineup from a team that managed just one win last spring.
"After graduating our top four players from last year, Northern Lebanon will be looking to build experience with a group of newcomers this season," Margetan said.
Coach: Abbie Mahaffey, 6th year
Last year's record: 11-4 overall,10-2 in the Mid Penn Colonial Division. Mid Penn Colonial Division Champions; Qualified for District 3 team tournament
Key players lost: Ben Rusling, Eric Lynn, Eric Kohl & Adam Lerro
Top returning players: Quinn Marcus (Sr.) , Evan Yost (Sr.) & Stephen Wargo (Jr.)
Promising newcomers: Ben Clary (Fr.)
Outlook: With a freshman at the top of the lineup in Clary and a new division to navigate, Mahaffey isn't quite sure what to expect from a team that said goodbye to some key contributors to back-to-back Mid-Penn Colonial Division titles.
"It is tough to tell at this point," Mahaffey said. "The weather has impacted the start of the season, but now that the courts are clear we are ready to go! We lost our top 4 players and are returning 3 starters. We have a nice addition in freshman Ben Clary, who will be playing No.1 singles. We are also changing divisions this year from the Mid Penn Colonial Division, which we won the last two years, to the Mid Penn Keystone Division."