Area boys tennis teams have brighter outlooks

Hollidaysburg Area High School boys tennis player Amir Alkhafaji will try to build on his 9-3 regular-season singles record from a year ago to lead the Golden Tigers.

The Hollidaysburg junior will enter his third year as a starter and was a District 6-AAA singles quarterfinalist from a year ago.

Alkhafaji, a Mirror first-team all-star a year ago, will be joined by returning starters John Johnson and Jordan Kirsch.

Altoona returns its top five starters, including sophomore and Mirror first-teamer Chad Allender, a District 6-AAA doubles semifinalist in 2012.

The Mountain Lions will also return Mirror all-star honorable mention picks Chris Reighard and Ryan Good.

Bedford returns junior Jack Bittner and James Jefferies, who helped the Bisons to a 13-6 record in 2012.

They will need to replace Mirror first-teamer Caleb Goodin, who helped lead the Bisons to the District 5 team finals last year.

Bishop Guilfoyle, Huntingdon and Tussey Mountain will each return a generous amount of starters.


Coach: Eric Hovan, 15th year

Last year’s record: 8-6

Conference: None

Returning starters: Chris Reighard, Sr.; Joey Settimio, Sr.; Mustafa Ahmad, Jr.; Ryan Good, So.; Chad Allender, So.

Other letterwinners: Elliot Wilt, Sr.; Connor Brandt, Sr.; Ben Borst, Sr.; Thad Zitch, So.

Newcomers: Matt Eiman, Jr.; Cory Doeing, Fr.; Jake Colledge, Fr.; Sam Houk, Fr.

Strengths: “We have a solid group of starters returning, including our top five players. I am excited about our newcomers as well. They should all have some degree of impact on the varsity season. I’m hoping the internal competition for spots will make us better.”

Concerns: “We have a very challenging schedule. State College has been the power in District 6 for the last decade, while Hollidaysburg has a good collection of young talent. We must continue to improve as the year goes on, but we have a long way to go.”

Overall outlook: “We have a very talented group of kids who have the opportunity to become a good team. Our goal of trying to win a district title is achievable, but our level of improvement will dictate whether it will happen.”


Coach: Mark Anderson, second year

Career record: 13-6

Last year’s record: 13-6

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Jack Bittner, Jr.; James Jefferies, Jr.

Other letterwinners: Caleb Gaumer, Jr.; Andrew Heis, Sr.; Lane Karns, Sr.; Conner Gronborg, Jr.

Newcomers: Corey Black, Fr.; Ben Windows, Fr.; David Cain, So.; Nikolas Straka, Sr.; Seth Burket, Sr.

Strengths: “We are solid at the No. 1 and 2 spots on our roster.”

Concerns: “Whoever wins our No. 3 and doubles position will be a first-year player. We are very young and inexperienced.”

Overall outlook: “We want to compete in each match and improve throughout the year. By season’s end we want to have a couple players going for district titles as well as a team title.”

Assistant coach: Jim Siehl


Coach: Julie Donovan, third year

Career record: 5-21

Last year’s record: 4-15

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returning starters: Zane Clarke, Jr.; Nick Centar, Jr.; Dominick D’Andrea, Jr.

Other letterwinners: Connor Wharton, Sr.; Matt Keefer, Jr.; Brennan Nale, Jr.; Nick Fiore, Jr.

Newcomers: Chris Michelone, Sr.; Alex Clarke, Jr.; Jimmy Burke, Fr.; Dan Sullivan, Fr.

Strengths: “We have strong singles players in Zane Clarke, Nick Centar and Dominick D’Andrea, as well as newcomers Alex Clarke, Jim Burke and Dan Sullivan. Our doubles players, Connor Wharton, Nick Fiore, Matt Keefer and Brenna Nale are well-seasoned and can play in any combination.”

Concerns: “My only concern is that the weather will not improve soon, so all of our boys get enough playing experience.”

Overall outlook: “This is the strongest team we’ve had since I’ve been at Bishop Guilfoyle. I’m excited about their potential and feel they can play for the District 6 team title.”


Coach: Timothy Sloan, first year

Career record: 0-0

Conference: Laurel Highlands

Returnees: Adam Trexler, Sr.; Zach Gerlach, Jr.; Joshua Remillard, Jr.; William Harteis, So.; Gina Bianucci, So.; Jack Terndrup, Jr.; Briana Colopy, Sr.; Christopher Nischalke, Jr.

Newcomers: Christoff Trexler, Fr.; Abigail Morrell, Fr.; Edward Ritchey, Fr.; Braden Hoffman, Fr.

Strengths: “I think our top kids have a fair amount of experence and play year-round.”

Concerns: “I don’t think we have any major concerns.”

Overall outlook: “I’m hoping they enjoy themselves and come out with a winning record.”


Coach: Brian Denis, 11th year

Career record: 253-71

Last year’s record: 15-3

Conference: None

Returning starters: Amir Alkhafaji, Jr.; John Johnson, Jr.; Jordan Kirsch, Sr.

Other letterwinners: James Nackley, Sr.; Chris Martinelli, Sr.; Eric Miller, So.; Matt Dodson, Jr.; Addison Hayes, Jr.; Brady Emeigh, Sr.; Rommy Obeid, So.; Andrew Vonada, So.; Zach Kormanski, Sr.; Kyle Gornick, So.; Ethan Brzana, Sr.; Michael Klingbeil, Sr.

Newcomers: Emre Cardakli, Fr.; Sam Sky, Fr.; Max Sheetz, Fr.; Josh Cobler, Fr.; Josh Cobler, Fr.; Jesse Miller, Fr.; Alec Menard, Jr.; Nolan Robbins, Sr.; Sam Black, Fr.; Suryadev Aswathappa, Fr.

Strengths: “We have a very talented player returning in Alkhafaji, and a very deep team from top to bottom. We have an outstanding freshman group coming in, and the sky is the limit for what they can accomplish. Our doubles play has been very strong as we have worked on it all winter. This is a very driven group, that is extremely competitive and will work to do what it takes to win.”

Concerns: “Weather is always a concern, and we have already missed numerous days outdoors. We also have 20-plus kids, and with five courts and no assistant coach, it’s going to be challenging to run efficient practices.”

Overall outlook: “I am extremely excited for the season to get started. These kids have an outstanding skills set and are polished players. As the season progresses, I feel like if these kids reach their potential, we might end up being a better squad from top to bottom than last year’s team – and that says a lot.”


Coach: Alan Secrest, seventh year

Career record: 28-70

Last year: 5-9

Conference: Mountain Athletic

Returning players: Daniel Santos, Sr.; Caleb Acker, Sr.; Austin Perow, So.; Chalmer Port, So.; Matthew Scailaba, So.; Will Thurston-Griswald, So.; Jonathon Hark, So.

Newcomers: Taylor Mitchell, Fr.

Strengths: “We have all but one player back, so I expect that we can challenge deep into matches. Austin Perow is hitting the ball well and will be tough on his competition. Senior Daniel Santos is hitting the ball with new power, his net game has improved and he will be hard to get by.”

Concerns: “If we can stay healthy, we’ll be fine. If we go down a player or two, the matchup issues will cause us to struggle.”

Overall outlook: “I think we can do better than last year and the players are ready to get into competition. If we win our conference matches and beat our rivals, we’ll have a good year.”

Assistant coaches: Rick Lombard, Mark Secrest, Sean Oswald


Coach: Paul Brumbaugh, seventh year

Career record: 41-43

Last year: 1-13

Conference: Bi-County

Returning starters: Aaron Duvall, Sr.; Neal Smith, Jr.; John Clark, Jr.; Ronald Brown, Sr.; Ashley Young, Jr.; Chasity Crooks, Jr.

Other letterwinners: Kody Weaver, Sr.; James Fink, Jr.; Maxwell Stapleton, So.

Newcomers: Moritz Ruedinger, Sr.; Stephen Willis, Fr.; Charles May, Jr.; Cole Ramsey, So.; Brandon Cucalon, Fr.; Nick Foster, Fr.

Strengths: “We have a nice core of returning players with a good morale heading into the season.”

Concerns: “The short preseason is always a big concern along with getting doubles teams working together.”

Overall outlook: “We will look to improve from last year. Last year was the first year of competitive tennis for most of our squad, and we saw improvement throughout the year that will give us something to build on coming into this season.”

Assistant coach: Dan Brode


Coach: Randy Irvin, first year

Career record: 0-0

Returning starters: J.T. Wisyanski, Sr.

Other returnees: Dale Catron, Soph.; Tyler Dively, Sr.; Isaac Gates, Sr.; Zachariah Gates, Sr.; Matthew Shirk, Sr.; Ryan Cox, Jr.

Newcomers: Erik Wagner, Jr.

Strengths: “We’re athletic, and the kids love playing tennis.”

Concerns: “Inexperience is a huge concern. We lost our top three seeds.”

Overall outlook: “I’m looking for improvement every match, and hopefully by the end of the season we’ll be pretty good.”