The talent the Manchester Essex girls tennis team is bringing to the table this spring is downright scary.
The 2012 Division 3 State Champions have few new faces on the team this spring, in fact six of the seven varsity players from last year's squad are returning to the team this year which has Manchester Essex thinking big this season.
"I think the lineup this year for us looks strong, however, nothing is going to come easy," Hornets first year head coach Brendan Grimm said. "It's going to require a great deal of hard-work, intensity and commitment by the team as a who and from the looks of it already, I don't thank that's going to be a problem with this group as many of them experienced the journey to the state championship last year."
The Hornets are led by No. 1 singles and Sophomore Michelle Fuca, who is entering her third straight year as the teams No. 1 singles. Ironically, Fuca's younger brother Mike, a Freshman, is the No. 1 singles player on the boys squad. Fuca had an outstanding regular season and an even better run towards the state title.
With Hannah Daley, last year's No. 2 singles, being the lone player the Hornets lost to graduation, Kendall McCormick will be moving up to the second singles slot and she is also coming off of a strong 2011 campaign.
Senior captain Eliza Rohner will be making the jump from doubles to No. 3 singles this spring as her partner from 2011, Sophomore Rachel Daley, will stay at No. 1 doubles with new partner Avery St. Sauvere, the lone newcomer to the team this spring.
The second doubles tandem of Molly Carlson and Anna Tyler remain intact.
"I am excited for this season to get started and excited with the lineup we are putting out," Grimm said.
Gloucester looking strong
The Gloucester girls program is also looking strong this spring with 23 girls in the program leading to some intense battles for positioning on the varsity team. The experience combined with some strong newcomers have Gloucester thinking postseason in 2012.
The Fishermen are led by captains Kim Foster and Eleanor Keller, who have helped the team both on and off the court this season.
"Our captains have really taken on the role," said first year head coach Mary Ellen DeLouise, who is the co-head coach with Lynne Salah this spring. "They are really helping the younger players and are the leaders of the team. We have a good variety of younger and older players and it's also nice to have some depth."
Junior Meghan Muniz returns as the teams No. 2 singles player after a strong 2011 season and Corinne DeLouise is making the jump from No. 1 doubles to No. 3 singles this spring. Other doubles tandems to watch are Qiana Curcuru and Mareka Gillis along with the tandem of Jill MacDonald and Jordan Westling, all Sophomores.
The Fishermen will be thrown into the fire early as their season opens with two of the Northeastern Conference's best in Beverly on Monday followed by Marblehead.
"We have two really tough matchups to start the year," DeLouise said. "They are going to be good tests for us."
Vikings full of youth
Rockport and first year head coach Bill Sclafani are working several new players into the lineup this spring as six of the seven players on last year's varsity team are not returning this spring. Youth is particularly tough on the Vikings due to the fact that they play in the Cape Ann League, a league that boasts depth and several top of the line squads.
"We are young team in a tough conference," said Sclafani, who is also an assistant coach for the boys basketball team at Rockport. "But our goal is to go out and be competitive in every match. We are a good team unit and I think the girls will play well together."
Leading the way for Rockport is Sophomore Abby Hood, the teams lone returning starter who will be playing No. 1 singles this spring. Joining Hood in the singles ranks when the team opens up the season Wednesday at Lynnfield will be junior Eva Weinstein. Senior captains Danielle Turner and Kristen Sanfilippo make up the No. 1 doubles tandem while Freshman Olivia Turner, Danielle's sister, and junior Krysia Strumps make up the second doubles tandem.