By Jeff Lander
With the high school tennis season nearing an end, there are a couple teams on Cape Ann that are serious contenders to make deep playoff tournament runs.
Let's take a look at the how the tennis scene has unfolded so far this year.
Manchester Essex girls
Recap: After winning a state championship in 2011, the Hornets are in prime position to repeat in 2012. Manchester Essex only lost one player graduation, albeit the Cape Ann League (CAL) Co-Player of the Year in Hannah Daley.
The team hasn't lost a beat in 2012, as their record stands at a perfect 11-0 (7-0 in CAL play). An eye popping stat is that the lady Hornets have only dropped a total of six games all season. No. 1 singles Michelle Fuca hasn't lost a match, which includes a hard-fought victory over reigning CAL Co-Player of the year Alex Sulkin from Ipswich. No. 2 singles Kendall McCormick also remains undefeated, while No. 3 singles Eliza Rohner has only dropped one match this year. The doubles teams have been just as successful as their singles counterparts. The No.1 doubles of Rachel Daley and Molly Carlson and the No.2 doubles of Avery St. Sauvere and Anna Tyler have combined to only drop a handful of matches. They clearly are the team to beat in the CAL this year.
Outlook: The Lady Hornets have a marquee match-up against Masconomet remaining. Masco is 8-1 while sporting an unblemished 6-0 CAL record. The team also plays their last game against Marblehead, who gave them their biggest test earlier in the season. Manchester Essex escaped with the 3-2 victory and marked the only contest in which the Hornets dropped more than one game.
The Hornets have been tested with their regular season schedule and are the clear favorite to repeat as state champions in 2012.
Manchester Essex boys
Recap: Currently sitting at 6-3 on the year (4-2 in the CAL), the Hornets are on track to make the postseason again. They are looking to avenge their 4-1 quarterfinal loss in last year's postseason to cross-town rival Hamilton-Wenham. Leading the charge for Manchester Essex is freshman Michael Fuca, who has anchored the Hornets at the No. 1 singles position and cemented himself as one of the top players in the CAL. Junior Calvin Lamothe has played excellent in the No. 2 singles position and has been pivotal in his team's success. Senior Ben Scarfoni has been an excellent leader for the young squad while pairing with Colin Babikian to form an intimidating No. 1 doubles team. Sophomore classmates Kevin Celucci and Emmett Ryan round out the No. 2 doubles team and were crucial in a dramatic victory against Chelmsford early in the season.
Outlook: The Hornets have some easy, but important CAL games to finish-up the season. They play Amesbury and Masco, who are both winless in the CAL and sport 1-7 and 3-5 records respectively. Their toughest CAL game remaining is Lynnfield, who should be a good test down the stretch. Manchester Essex also has a non-league rematch against Hamilton-Wenham, who is the class of the league this year with an unblemished 6-0 CAL record. Lastly, the Hornets have their last three contests as non-league games against tough teams in Pentucket, North Andover and Marblehead, which serve as a play-off tune-up for tournament time.
This team is talented and if it can get hot down the stretch, don't be surprised to see a deep tournament run.
Recap: After an 11-5 record and Northeastern Conference Small title, the Fishermen are holding strong with a 5-1 overall record in 2012, with their only loss of the season coming at the hands of Danvers. Cody Marshall has been the leader for the Gloucester squad at the No. 1 singles position, holding a 5-1 record. A huge surprise for the Fishermen has been the play of No. 3 singles Lorenzo Colosanti, an Italian exchange student who was a late-addition to the squad. Colosanti has an unblemished 6-0 record and is the only undefeated singles player on the team. The No. 1 doubles tandem of Chris Wile and Jon Perry, who are two students from Rockport High School, have played outstanding with a 5-1 record. Lastly, not to go unnoticed, is the No.2 doubles duo of Cameron Davis and Pat Kelly. Davis and Kelly do an excellent of job of working together and communicating with each other and it shows on the stat sheet with a perfect 6-0 record.
Outlook: The Fishermen have nine more games to go the rest of the way. Six of those matches are with Lynn English, Malden Catholic and Winthrop. If Gloucester plays up to potential, it should dispose of Winthrop and Lynn English easily. The real tests of the second-half are going to be against Malden Catholic and a strong Peabody Tanners squad. Gloucester coach Gus Martinson is unsure what to expect when the Fishermen play Malden Catholic, however, he expects them to be a strong opponent with their history of boasting strong athletic teams. Expect the Fishermen to finish strong in the second-half and make a deeper run than their first-round exit in last year's playoffs.
Gloucester girls tennis coach Mary Ann DeLouise failed to return several calls seeking comment for this story.
Recap: This has been a rebuilding year for the Vikings, as they currently sport a 2-7 record (1-6 CAL). The highlights of the season were a decisive 5-0 victory against Lady of Nazareth and a 4-1 victory against CAL opponent Amesbury. In the Lady of Nazareth victory, Abby Hood, Eva Weinsten and Megan Hood swept the singles action while the teams of Danielle Turner and Kristen Sanfilippo and Krysia Strumpf and Olivia Turner swept the doubles action. Rockport has played noticeably better in their last two games, which include the aforementioned victory over Amesbury and a tightly contested 3-2 loss against Triton. In the Amesbury victory, the singles trio swept again, with No.1 singles player Abby Hood earning a dominating (6-0, 6-1) victory. Despite the record, the young lady Vikings are gaining valuable experience for the future.
Outlook: The Rockport girls have five games remaining on the young season. Two of their first three remaining are against undefeated Manchester Essex and 7-2 Pentucket. If everything plays out, the lady Vikings should end on a two-game winning streak. Their last two games are against winless Newburyport and Lady of Nazareth, who they crushed 5-0 early in the season. If the team plays well, they could squeak out a win against North Reading, who is only 4-7 on the year. The team only graduates two seniors in Danielle Turner and Kristen Sanfilippo, so the experience for the younger players could pay-off huge dividends next year.