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updated: 9/5/2013 5:21 PM

Girls tennis: Scouting Lake County

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EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC

CARMEL

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Coach: Chris Kannenberg (first season)

Last year: second in ESCC

Key losses: Maclain Edwards, Emily Rhine; junior Brienne Minor (state singles quarterfinalist)

Top returnees: Seniors Megan Sullivan, Michelle Kannenberg, Kathleen Felicelli; juniors Maddy O'Donnell, Christine Rao

Top newcomers: Barb Ramont, Sarah Bowles, Ruthie Firnbach, Megan Healy

Outlook: It will be a different look for the Corsairs this fall as longtime head coach Nancy Fehn has moved into an assistant's role to Chris Kannenberg, who coached at DePaul. Also missing is Minor, one of the country's top juniors who will be playing outside tournaments to attract attention of some of the top college coaches. But Carmel still has plenty of talent to continue as one of the top programs in the ESCC with three straight second-place finishes to nine-time defending champion Benet. Sullivan and O'Donnell went 2-2 at state doubles last year, but Rao and O'Donnell have been playing at Nos. 1 and 2 singles. Kannenberg's daughter Michelle and Felicelli have been at No. 1 doubles and Sullivan and Bowles have been playing No. 2. "The outlook is very positive and the girls are working well as a unit," Chris Kannenberg said. "Our area is very tough and we're looking to stay competitive with our local rivals."

NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE

LAKE ZURICH

Coach: Aaron Rogers (third year)

Last year: fifth in NSC

Top returnees: Seniors Sam Wilson, Sam Bendfeldt, Arianna Soheil; juniors Gabi Bendfeldt, Emily Leahy, Stephanie Johnson; sophomore Brenna Casey

Top newcomers: Seniors Sarah Ditton, Hannah Brodner; junior Mi-Jin Han

Outlook: Rogers is excited about the battle at No. 1 singles between Wilson, who was sixth in the NSC at that spot last year, and Casey. Gabi Bendfeldt and Leahy are back at No. 1 doubles after they played some of their best tennis en route to finishing fourth in the NSC. "We are more experienced at the top of the lineup than we have been in recent years," Rogers said, "but we realize that our team success will depend on our depth and we will need to get wins from everyone in the lineup." Sam Bendfeldt, Soheil and Johnson all took fifth in the NSC at various spots last year. The Bears will also have a rugged nonconference schedule that features five Mid-Suburban League teams -- they lost to Fremd but beat Schaumburg in the first week. "We think we can compete at a high level and hope to finish in the top half of the conference," Rogers said.

LIBERTYVILLE

Coach: Dan Kiernan

Last year: third in NSC tournament, 5-3 in NSC duals

Key losses: Claire Eichmann, Arantxa Garcia Escobar

Top returnees: Seniors Abigail Anderson, Madeline Wagner, Penny Leventis, Kristen Kinast, Hailey Agre, Madey Buhrman, Mallory Rasmussen; juniors Halle Roach, Aleksandra Grabowski

Top newcomers: Juniors Caitlin Considine, Izzie Griffith; freshmen Danielle Blaser, Callie Klein, Arthi Sekharan

Outlook: Roach went 1-2 at state last year and will be looking for a top-four finish in the rugged NSC as the Wildcats also look for a top-four finish in the league race. Klein has moved up to No. 2 singles and Blaser has teamed with Anderson at No. 2 doubles. Wagner, Grabowski, Leventis and Kinast also return from a group that used its depth to finish in the top three at most of its invites. "Once we figure out the best way to compete, my hope is that we do better at the lower spots this year compared to last and that we maintain our level from last year on the higher spots," Kiernan said. "We always compete well in our area and have a few players go on to compete at the collegiate level. We have some good athletes this year and we will need to just wait and see how it all pans out."

MUNDELEIN

Coach: Brian Packowitz (fourth year)

Last year: seventh in NSC tournament

Key losses: Ari Dechter (playing at Bradley)

Top returnees: Seniors Sara Jump, Kelly McCauley

Top newcomers: Freshmen Kalli Majewski, Jessica Peterson

Outlook: Packowitz is looking for eight seniors with a lot of experience to offset the departure of Dechter, who went 3-2 at state last year. Jump moves up to No. 1 singles and Majewski will play No. 2. McCauley will be at No. 1 doubles and Peterson will fit at one of the top two doubles spots. "We are looking forward to being competitive all year," Packowitz said. "Our goal every year is to improve on the previous season and our hopes are to finish better than we did last year." McCauley and Jump played No. 1 doubles at the Lakes Quad and finished first and Lauren Ewing and took first at No. 2 doubles.

STEVENSON

Coach: Tom Stanhope

Last year: 10th at state tournament, second in NSC

Top returnees: Senior Alexxis Kiven; juniors Kendall Kirsch, Kaylin Dong

Top newcomer: Junior Zoe Manion

Outlook: The Patriots have a nice starting point in Kiven and Dong, who took fourth at state doubles last year. With the return of Manion, who didn't play last year, and Kirsch from injury, Stanhope believes "the team appears, on paper, a lot deeper," to battle defending state champion Lake Forest in the NSC. Kiven and Kirsch were third at state doubles in 2011. "We have a lot of versatility with players being able to excel at both doubles and singles," Stanhope said. "Expect to see a lot of movement between the two with players."

WARREN

Coach: Vince DeSecki (10th year)

Last year: Third in NSC

Top returnees: Seniors Courtney Sunday, Max Mella, Lauren Vrabel, Kristen O'Brien, Julie Zysk, Ieva Marcinkeviciute, Leah Holst, Sam Ryczek, Lucy Stan, Ashley Harper; juniors Alex Mella, Mikayla Schultz; sophomore Karyna Bihel

Top newcomers: Juniors Roxanne Pantelyuk, Julia Papillon, Lindsey O'Brien, Alyssa Dias, Rachelle Geraldino-Pena, Laura Olander, Danielle Freeman

Outlook: Bihel finished in the top 16 last year to earn all-state singles honors and she is part of a deep and talented returning cast looking to finish in the top three in the NSC once again. Bihel won her first three state matches and went 4-2. Sunday and Schultz were 3-2 at state and Alex and Max Mella also got state tourney experience as freshmen. "We expect (Bihel and Alex Mella) to be a nice 1-2 punch at singles," DeSecki said. "We also expect big things from our doubles teams. The girls have great chemistry, strong leadership and a desire to compete with the best teams in Lake County."

NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE

ANTIOCH

Coach: Neil Lesinski (fourth year)

Key losses: Alyssa Sheppard, Ruth Keeling

Top returnees: Seniors Melissa Donovan, Sara Petty

Top newcomers: Freshmen Sjana Henderson, Emma DeJong, Elizabeth Gardner

Outlook: Antioch is coming off a historic season where Sheppard and Keeling qualified for state in doubles and the boys also had a qualifier -- giving the school state appearances by both teams in the same year for the first time in more than two decades. Donovan and Petty also return from a third-place sectional finish. "I think we have a strong lineup that combines senior leadership with some young talent," Lesinski said. "I think we have a great shot at challenging every team we play and winning some close matches. Our goal is always to win the division, and we will be working hard to accomplish just that."

GRANT

Coach: Shea Wintersteen (second year)

Key losses: Olga Krapivner, Jenny Gibbs, Anjelique Chanath, Dashia Shanks, Karly Laskowski

Top returnees: Seniors Ali Kramer, Alec Mora, Sarah Vandervest; sophomore Kat Antonishina; Morgan King, Dana Lelchuck

Top newcomers: Freshmen Gabby Schoenberg, Kyrsten Bruce

Outlook: Wintersteen is looking for Schoenberg "to put Grant on the tennis map for hopefully the next four years." Tennisrecruiting.net's freshman class rankings have Schoenberg at 170th nationally and seventh in Illinois. Bruce also figures prominently in the lineup with Antonishina, who returns at second singles and won the Waukegan quad title last year. Kramer had a strong finish at first doubles last year but lost partner Jenny Gibbs to graduation. Mora and Vandervest are back at No. 2 doubles with King and Lelchuck expected to step up and contribute. Wintersteen is looking for the Bulldogs to battle Antioch and Vernon Hills for the Prairie title. "I'm excited for the season and our girls appear ready to play," Wintersteen said.

LAKES

Coach: Bryan Plinske (ninth year at Lakes, 18th year overall)

Last year: 5-8

Key losses: Megan Soderlund, Alexa Blackwell, Jessica Beitzel, Gina Nordlund, Chelsea Visser

Top returnees: Seniors Stephanie Lass, Haley Fischer, Hannah Urban, Geena Paoli, Gabby Keenan, Paige Whitaker

Top newcomers: Senior Lisa Milter; juniors Candice Lowe, Morgan Visser, Meghann Siligan; sophomore Ally Perdue

Outlook: Lass is looking for a big finish to her four-year varsity career by making a state tourney trip. "She has worked extremely hard for the last three years on varsity and is looking for all that work to pay off in a big way," Plinske said. Her leadership along with the rest of the senior class has Plinske looking for the Eagles to make a run at the NSC Prairie crown. "We have great senior leadership and a great deal of varsity experience," Plinske said. "The girls are hitting the ball well. Everyone has a great attitude." Lass and Fischer finished first at Nos. 1 and 2 singles and Visser-Perdue took first at No. 3 doubles as Lakes won its quad last Saturday in a tiebreaker over Mundelein.

ROUND LAKE

Coach: Atom Davis (first season)

Top returnees: Senior Juana Carrillo; junior Jennifer Tello; sophomores Jacqueline Schmidt, Allison Novelo

Top newcomers: Senior Daniela Aviles; sophomore Maria Aviles

Outlook: Davis is the third coach in four years at Round Lake and his top priority is to bring stability to the program. "I have already seen some significant changes in terms of work ethic, desire and conditioning," said Davis, who was the girls JV coach four years ago and has been the boys head coach the last three seasons. "Our team has worked extremely hard preparing for the season and we hope to have some positive steps in the right direction. I am very happy with the girls' determination to improve and to deal with change." The Aviles sisters have emerged as the Panthers' top two singles players in their first year on the team. Davis also is excited about his top doubles teams of Schmidt-Novelo at No. 1 and Tello-Carrillo at No. 2.

VERNON HILLS

Coach: Doug Gerber (13th season)

Last year: NSC Prairie champions, sixth in NSC, fifth in Stevenson sectional

Key losses: Amy Dolan, Melanie Solheim, Monica Lozovaty

Top returnees: Seniors Elizabeth Borgman, Mary Tsakadze, Victoria Sobolev, Rachel Jacoby, Prathushya Namburi; juniors Shreya Kathuria, Jillian Roussel, Izzy Cirone

Top newcomers: Senior Melissa Roshass; sophomores Sneha Sivaram, Leah Dosemagen, Isabella Kosoglaz

Outlook: The return of Roshass, who played No. 2 doubles as a freshman but suffered a broken shoulder during her two-year hiatus, is a boost for the Cougars in their chase for an 11th Prairie title in 14 years. Gerber also looks for Jacoby, Kathuria, Namburia, Roussel and Cirone to step up at doubles after Dolan, Solheim and Lozovaty all played at Nos. 1 and 2 last year. "With three of our four doubles players graduating, the focus early on will be finding doubles combinations," Gerber said. "All three singles players are back (Borgman, Tsakadze, Sobolev) so the team has experience at those positions." Roshass is also a threat at singles.

WAUCONDA

Coach: Melissa Hoffmann (14th season, 16th overall)

Last year: 10-8

Key losses: Emily Brennan, Megan Grobelny, Maggie LePage, Nicole Egorov, Lexie Kraus

Top returnees: Seniors Jena Heck, Ally Kleiner; juniors Kacey Cabanban, Maddy Kleiner

Top newcomers: Danielle Sturm, Alex O'Day

Outlook: Wauconda looks to its core of top returnees to lead the way to another winning overall record and to challenge NSC Prairie power Vernon Hills. "We are improving on our individual and team skills on a daily basis," Hoffmann said. "We are comprised of hard workers and dedicated players and we hope to be successful in our division." Maddy Kleiner took second at No. 2 singles in the Lakes Quad after playing second and third singles last year. The Bulldogs also got second-place doubles finishes at Lakes from Sturm-O'Day at No. 1 and Ally Kleiner and Taylor Brew at No. 2.

FOX VALLEY FOX

GRAYSLAKE CENTRAL

Coach: Chuck Lawson (seventh year)

Last year: fifth in FVC

Top returnees: Seniors Alexa Schneider, Kaitlyn Barrett, Allison Gately, Paige Vaughn, Pranalee Patel, Carly Sullivan; junior Brenda Zador; sophomores Nikki Tatsuguchi, Raquel Ruiz

Top newcomers: Juniors Sarah Adornetto, Yuliya Mykhaylaovska, Michelle May, Kayla Smith, Grace Jang; sophomore Olivia Love

Outlook: The Rams finished first in the Johnsburg tournament on Saturday and their trio of top singles players in Tatsuguchi, Ruiz and Zador have a lot of experience. "We have a great young group of singles players," Lawson said. The Rams' doubles teams of Sullivan-Schneider at No. 1, Adornetto-Mykhaylaovska at No. 2 and Patel-Love at No. 3 all were champs at Johnsburg and also have varsity experience. Lawson expects the Rams to finish in the middle of the strong Fox Valley where Crystal Lake South, Jacobs and Prairie Ridge finished 1-2-3 last year.

GRAYSLAKE NORTH

Coach: Jill Tomasello (ninth year)

Last year: 5-11, 10th in FVC

Key losses: Taylor Wright, Sydney Leanna, Tarah Pasternak, Caroline Sheppard

Top returnees: Seniors Nathalia Moran, Cayle Dole, Rachel Crutcher

Top newcomers: Juniors Erin Hendrix, Cassie Friedman, Alyssa Piekarx, Kaitlyn Christiansen

Outlook: Despite a lot of losses to graduation, Tomasello is looking for a finish in the top half of the FVC and a top-three sectional finish with Moran at No. 1 singles and Dole-Crutcher at No. 1 doubles. "We have big shoes to fill with the loss of almost all of our doubles combinations from last year," Tomasello said. "But, we are confident that the underclassmen moving up to varsity are going to fight their way into the top of the FVC. We have a wonderful group of athletes who work hard and are determined players and we can't wait to see what success they bring to our program this year."

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