Expectations are running high for the Altoona and Bedford boys tennis teams this season.
The Mountain Lions and Bisons have a wealth of experienced players and are expecting solid campaigns.
Altoona returns six of its top seven players from last year’s 12-6 team. The Mountain Lions have some promising youngsters, too.
“There are some very promising new players who have a shot of making an immediate impact on our lineup,” said Altoona coach Eric Hovan. “This is the deepest team that we have had in the last five years.”
Returning starters include juniors Scott Andrews Jake Hollingsworth, Chris Leiden, Alex Raymond, Josh Stratton, Steven Weiss and sophomore Josh Allender.
The return of six veterans is fueling the optimism at Bedford. The veterans include two-time District 5 singles champion Steven Dull and District 5 doubles champions Adam Helsel and Ben Heidorn, all juniors.
The Bisons posted a 13-3 record last year and captured the District 5 team, singles and doubles tournament titles.
“It’s hard to imagine Bedford ever having the wealth of experienced and excellent players as we have this season,” said Bedford coach Jim Siehl.
Hollidaysburg is in a rebuilding mode, Bishop Guilfoyle is moving to a new league (Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference), and Huntingdon has a new coach. Alan Secrest is the new head coach at Huntingdon, replacing Rick Lombard, who stepped down after 36 years.
Taking a closer look at the boys tennis teams in the Mirror coverage area:
Coach: Eric Hovan, 11th year.
Career record: 327-59.
Last year’s record: 12-6.
Returning starters: Scott Andrews (jr), Jake Hollingsworth (jr), Chris Leiden (jr.), Alex Raymond (jr), Josh Stratton (jr), Steven Weiss (jr.), Josh Allender (so).
Other returning letterwinners: Garran Burget (jr.), D.J. Johnson (jr), Alex Maynard (jr), Ben Makin (jr), Nick Wells (jr), Asher Kline (so).
Newcomers: Axel Hernborg (sr), Travis Helsel (jr), Julian Fazi (so), Billy Aiken (fr), Tyler Hollingsworth (fr).
Strengths: “We return six of our top seven players from last year. We have a very athletic team with most of our players lettering in other sports. Our team competes very well because of it. There are some very promising new players who have a shot of making an immediate impact on our lineup. This is the deepest team that we have had in the last five years.’’
Concerns: “We don’t have a dominant No. 1 type of player. Our team is pretty equal from No. 1 to No. 8. We also need to find some doubles combinations that work well together. We have some new kids in the mix that could play early, so getting our preseason practice outside would be a tremendous help.’’
Overall outlook: “I am very excited to get the season started. I really like this team, and they are all extremely coachable. I am very interested to see how the newcomers on the team impact our squad. We are very athletic and capable of playing with anybody.’’
Assistant coach: Mark Sapita.
Coach: Jim Siehl, sixth year.
Last year’s record: 13-3.
League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
Returning starters: Jeff Patterson (sr.), Kellem Brown (jr.), Steven Dull (jr.), Adam Helsel (jr.), Ben Heidorn (jr.), Kyle Morris (jr.).
Other returnees: Rick Feist (jr.), Maulik Patel (jr.).
Newcomers: Joel Black (jr.), Kris Calhoun (jr.), Codi Clapper (jr.), Azad Hipara (jr.), Devon Shirley (jr.), Chris Silver (jr.), Jacob Twigg (so.), Jacob Clark (fr.), Ian Gibbs (fr.), Vincent Naglic (fr.), Andrew Stahl (fr.).
Strengths: “Confidence is high with six lettermen returning from the 2007 team that swept for the second straight year the District 5 team, singles and doubles tournament titles. The returning lettermen include two-time District 5 singles champion Steven Dull, and district doubles champions Adam Helsel and Ben Heidorn.”
Concerns: “There is a lot of intrigue on the team. How will Dull fare now that he is exposed to facing the opposition’s No. 1 player after playing behind the graduated Kyle Baer, a 2007 LHAC all-conference player the past two seasons? And will Dull be able to hold off good friend Adam Helsel. There is a logjam for the other singles spot, with no clear-cut favorite.”
Overall outlook: “Not since Matthew Otis and Adam Van Meter were leading Bedford to the 2003 Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championship has the Bison tennis team looked this bright.”
Assistant coach: None.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE CATHOLIC
Coach: Tim Rea, eighth year.
Career record: 51-62.
Last year’s record: 8-8 overall, 7-6 in Mountain Athletic Conference.
League: Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
Returning starters: Mounif Rifkah (sr.), David Consiglio (jr.), Matt Roesch (jr.), Todd Fulchiero (jr.). Other returnees: Alex Campbell (jr.), Derek Delozier (jr.), Mark Shanoudy (so), Andrew Sheedy (so), Gannam Rifkah (so).
Newcomers: Patrick Rea (fr.).
Strengths: “We have players with match experience. Many are multi-sport athletes.”
Concerns: “We have to replace some strong singles players and we don’t have a lot of depth.”
Overall outlook: “We are in a new league, so we have to adjust to a new format. It should be an interesting season as we establish new rivalries in the league.”
Assistant coach: Dr. Dan Palmer.
Coach: Brian Denis, sixth year.
Career record: 120-44.
Last year’s record: 12-2.
Returning starters: Ryan Mextorf (jr.).
Other returnees: Leland Kaminski (jr.), Jonathon Cruse (so), Brandon Heim (so.), Mark Thaler (so.).
Newcomers: Bart Jansen (sr.), Mike Reinhardt (jr.), Garrett Shuster (so.), Brian Schultz (fr.), Robbie Vonada (fr.).
Strengths: “Having only 10 kids on the roster compared to 26 last year will allow many of the younger players an opportunity to receive more individual attention and a chance to better grow their games. I am excited to have practices in which we will accomplish a lot because everyone will get more court time than in past years.”
Concerns: “After losing two of the better players to come through Blair County in a few years, and also losing eight of our top nine kids from last year, calling this a rebuilding year would be the understatement of the year. We had 18 seniors graduate last year, and sometimes it takes a while to replace that kind of leadership, especially from those kids that were three and four-year letterwinners. We will be extremely inexperienced, with only one player with any starting experience. We will take our share of lumps this season, and keeping a good attitude throughout the entire season is a must. ”
Overall outlook: “After losing to one team the past five years (State College) we will have many more difficult matches that in the past may have been likely victories. In a way, it will be exciting to see how we rise to the challenge and grow as a team. I have been working with some of these younger players for several years now, and I am anxious to see them get their chance in the spotlight.”
Assistant coach: None.
Coach: Alan Secrest, first year.
Last year’s record: 0-16.
League: Mountain League.
Returning starters: Sean Oswald (sr.), Mark Secrest (sr.), Caleb Shreve (sr.), Elliot Perow (so).
Other returnees: David Aurant (sr.), Ian Busko (sr.), Peter McClure (sr.), Tyler McClure (sr.), Keith Frysinger (jr.).
Newcomers: Dylan Johnson (fr.), Mike Metz (fr.).
Strengths: “We are a veteran team that likes to play together and there is great competition inside the team.”
Concerns: “Playing tough teams that don’t make too many mistakes, and that means we must play for every point and make each team member decide how much they can give to be successful this year.”
Overall outlook: “We are ready to play and have put in many hours of drills and training. We are excited and looking forward to the many challenges this area brings to tennis players.”
Assistant coach: Rick Lombard.
Coach: Paul Brumbaugh, second year.
Career record: 5-8.
Last year’s record: 5-8.
Returning starters: Kent Mills (sr.), Dan White (so.).
Other returnees: Jordan Keifman (so).
Newcomers: Bruno DeBock (sr.), Peter Riley (fr.), Thomas Keifman (fr.), Ryan Weimert (fr.), Laura Brode (fr.), Ryan Turner (fr.).
Strengths: “Kent and Dan should be able to provide good leadership with their experience and I look for us to be fairly strong in the top three of four spots. Also, we have a large number of freshmen coming out, so there is a strong interest in the sport.:
Concerns: “We lost four seniors to graduation last year, so we need to fill in those spots.”
Overall outlook: “We haven’t been able to practice much up to this point, but I do look for Mills, White, Riley and DeBock to see a good bit of playing time. With limited practice time, seedings have not been determined. Jordan Keifman showed good improvement throughout last year and I look for him to step in and contribute this year as well. I feel we have a capable enough team to do very well and improve on last year’s record.”
Assistant coach: Lysbeth Allison.