NORTH SUBURBAN LAKE
Coach: Aaron Rogers (third season)
Last season: 9-6 overall, 3-4 in NSC Lake, fifth in NSC
Key losses: Grant Thompson (Eastern Illinois), Nick Jordan, Kevin Croneigh, Jack Arends
Top returnees: Seniors Dave Brown, Andrew Guild, Kolton Reitsch, Thomas Petrovic, David Miller; junior Kevin Kim
Top newcomers: Sophomore Joaquin Ganoza; freshman Roberto Guagnelli
Outlook: The Bears don't have to even leave their division to find major challenges with two state trophy winners (runners-up Stevenson and Lake Forest) and top-15 finishers Libertyville and Warren. "Our conference schedule contains some of the most difficult teams in the state and it can be easy for players to get discouraged," Rogers said. "It's important that everyone is able to find success throughout the season at any position in the lineup that they are asked to play." Rogers is encouraged enough to believe the Bears can finish in the top half of the NSC again as Brown and Guild played Nos. 1 and 2 doubles respectively last year. Ganoza has made significant improvement from last year and the talented Guagnelli brings the right attitude and competitive edge. "We know that our success will depend on our entire team competing hard every single match and being able to grind out wins in close matches," Rogers said. "If we have a team-first mentality where everyone works on making those around them better, then we will meet our goals."
Coach: Dan Kiernan
Last season: 11-4 overall, fourth in NSC, second in Stevenson sectional, 14th in state
Key losses: Jack Springgate (state doubles qualifier), Adam Daluga, Adam Grabowski
Top returnees: Senior Nicholas Vittore; juniors Ben VanDixhorn (state singles qualifier); sophomore Scott Daluga (state doubles qualifier)
Top newcomers: Juniors Mike Gasick, Hao Chen; sophomore Julian Janczak; freshman Stefano Tsorotiotis
Outlook: Kiernan said another top-10 state finish "is reasonable to expect" with VanDixhorn joined at singles by Tsorotiotis. VanDixhorn went 4-2 at state to earn second-team all-state honors, is ranked around 100th nationally in his age group and will try to become the program's first state medalist since Nick Boulieris was fifth in 2006. "He has taken over the leadership role of our team and is playing great," Kiernan said. Tsorotiotis will also be one of the area's top players and is ranked in the top 20 at his age group. "He will compete well right from the starting bell," Kiernan said. "These two athletes are the most dedicated and committed players I have coached in my 23-plus years as a head coach." There will be some rebuilding at doubles, but Scott Daluga is back from a 4-2 state finish and third-team all-state selection. He will team with Janczak at No. 1 with Gasick and Chen at No. 2.
Coach: Brian Packowitz (fourth season)
Last season: sixth in NSC
Key losses: Ethan Jones, Jon Schmitz
Top returnees: Senior Aakash Choubal, Chaya Chaichitatorn; junior Evan Butler
Top newcomers: Freshman Kyle Koehler
Outlook: The Mustangs may look different but Packowitz is expecting a similar sixth-place finish in the league this year. "We have lots of new faces this year on the varsity," Packowitz said. "We are looking to improve our record from last year and build team chemistry." Choubal will move up to first singles or doubles after playing second doubles last year and Butler will also jump a spot to first doubles. Chaichitatorn will also play first or second doubles and Koehler will play a prominent role in the lineup at second or third singles or doubles.
Coach: Tom Stanhope (fifth season)
Last season: Tied for second in state with Lake Forest, sectional champs, NSC champs
Key losses: Jeremy Bush (three-time state singles medalist, fifth last year, Washington-St. Louis), Pawel Jaworski (state doubles qualifier, Carthage), Josh Lieberman (state doubles qualifier)
Top returnees: Seniors Andrew Komarov (two-time state doubles medalist), Rudy Viswanathan; juniors Colin Harvey (two-time state doubles medalist), Adam Maryniuk, Josh Cheng; sophomore Ben Bush (state singles qualifier)
Top newcomers: Freshmen Matt Harvey, Brian Weisberg
Outlook: The Patriots will be in the state trophy hunt once again after tying Lake Forest last year for its fourth second-place finish. They will be battling defending champion Hinsdale Central, the Scouts, New Trier and Lyons again in late May. "We lost three great players to graduation, but we still return a solid half of our state lineup," Stanhope said. "With the return of the majority of our conference team and the addition of new freshmen we should have a very, very deep squad." Komarov and Colin Harvey took third in state doubles last year after finishing seventh as freshmen but could have different roles this year. Ben Bush went 3-2 at state last year and Maryniuk and Viswanathan won the NSC No. 3 doubles crown. Weisberg and Matt Harvey should help make up for the graduation losses. "We should compete with Lake Forest for the conference championship, as usual," Stanhope said. "However, Libertyville should be emerging as a possible sleeper team once we get to the conference tournament."
Coach: Greg Cohen (19th season)
Last season: 8-4 overall, third in NSC, 14th in state
Key losses: Kristiyan Trukov (four-time state qualifier, Marquette), Matt Matheny (three-time state qualifier), Ben Skelton (state qualifier), Ben Hardiman (state qualifier), Amrit Ayalur
Top returnees: Seniors John Westerberg, Neil Shah; junior Samuel Gudeman (two-time state doubles qualifier), sophomore Scott Seiler
Top newcomers: Juniors Mike Danos, Tyler Cash, Josh Ashley; sophomore Nick Skradski
Outlook: Warren faces the challenge of replacing the program's career wins leader in Trukov (141), Matheny (100 career wins), Skelton, Hardiman and Ayalur. But Gudeman, a two-time state doubles qualifier with 49 career wins, should help set the tone for a successful transition. "This year will be a challenging year with losing so much talent and leadership," Cohen said. "Our kids have worked very hard to improve their games and we are looking forward to this challenge. I recognize how lucky I am to work with the kids that play tennis at Warren." That will be particularly true if the team can match its classroom success (average team GPA of 4.15) on the court. Seiler and Westerberg won 25 matches apiece last year and Shah won 22. Skradski was the frosh-soph No. 1 singles last year and made the most off-season improvement to prepare for the rugged NSC Lake competition. "Lake Forest and Stevenson should both be poised to make a run for a state trophy this year -- they have so many talented players," Cohen said. "This year Libertyville has a real chance to break the top five at state."
NORTH SUBURBAN PRAIRIE
Coach: Neil Lesinski
Top returnees: Sophomore Braden Ward (state singles qualifier); Isak Massman, Dustin Holsinger, Ozan Emsun, Cameron Corey
Outlook: Not only does Antioch have quantity with its largest team since its split with Lakes, it also has quality in Ward. He gained valuable state experience in his first high school season and will be looked at to provide leadership. "Last year we were happy with our team performance and are looking to continue our growing success," Lesinski said. "We are faced with the beneficial but challenging situation of developing a lot of players for the future of our program while maintaining a level of excellence in our returning players. Antioch tennis is focused on competing at a high level and hopefully we will see a solid finish in the standings." Massman, Holsinger, Emsun and Corey will help Ward on the court and as team leaders.
Coach: Jeremy Anderson (third season)
Key losses: Dustin Wilson
Top returnees: Senior Dennis Becker, junior Corrigan Luetke
Outlook: Luetke returns for his third varsity season and will lead the way at first doubles with Becker for the Bulldogs. "We should be competitive in the conference and the first doubles team should be successful all season," Anderson said. "We should be strong in our side (NSC Prairie)."
Coach: Bryan Plinske (10th season at Lakes, 19th overall)
Last season: second in NSC Prairie, ninth in NSC
Key losses: Jason Adlam, Ben Wayne, Sean Clark, Michael Dexheimer
Top returnees: Seniors Bryan Thacker, Jeff Sievert
Top newcomers: Juniors Alex Burnett, Aaron Navarro; sophomores Gavin Good, Kevin Thacker
Outlook: Plinske hopes a lot of internal competition will fuel Lakes to knock off defending NSC Prairie champion Vernon Hills. Bryan Thacker and Sievert are back at the top two singles spots. "We have many players looking to break onto the varsity team," said Plinske, who will coach his 500th varsity match this spring. "This will force the varsity players to work at their top levels, knowing someone is always behind them looking to take their place. We have a great deal of experience at the singles positions."
Coach: Atom Davis (fifth season)
Key losses: Angel Quezada
Top returnees: Seniors Juan Mena, Ivan Trevino; sophomore Alex Tobias
Outlook: Only five varsity players are back from last year, but that includes Tobias, who finished with a winning record and was chosen as the team's MVP. "We have a lot of work to do," Davis said. "We train hard and our conditioning is excellent. Our team will fight for every point and we look forward to competing this year."
Coach: Doug Gerber (14th season)
Last season: NSC Prairie champions
Key losses: Ismail Kadyrov (state doubles qualifier, Detroit), Zack Lebovitz, Joe Zhai, Neil McLain, Rajat Paranik, Josh Kosoglaz, Jon Hoffman, Zach Furlett
Top returnees: Seniors David Dobrik (state doubles qualifier), Jae Park, Eric Zhang; junior Nikita Lunkov
Top newcomers: Seniors Kevin Han, David Gaidamak, Jay Kim, Nathan Barnett-Bishop; sophomores Fin Lau, Scott Knier; freshman Harsha Namburi
Outlook: Kadyrov is among the nine graduates who led the Cougars to a Prairie title and the program's 100th victory. But Dobrik returns from the doubles team that took state champions Eddie Grabill and Harold Martin of Hinsdale Central to three sets in a third-round match. Lunkov will join Dobrik this year. "We're looking for them to lead the charge," Gerber said. "With Antioch, Wauconda and Grant returning their singles players, the division looks tight for this year." Park and Zhang are also back with varsity experience and the Cougars have four other seniors who were waiting in the wings for their opportunity.
Coach: Scott Cittadino (16th season)
Last season: fourth in NSC Prairie
Top returnees: Senior Tommy Tyler; junior Druv Patel
Top newcomers: Freshman Aldren Briones
Outlook: The Bulldogs hope the experience of Tyler and Patel at the top two singles spots and the addition of Briones at No. 3 singles has them poised to make an impact in the division. "We should have some depth and we are looking to do well in the Prairie," Cittadino said.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Coach: Chris Kannenberg (first season)
Last season: ESCC tournament and overall champions, 8-0 in ESCC duals
Key losses: Mick Wimmer, Alex Reid, Craig Paulson, Stephen Feely, Bryan Hunt, Brandon Dechter
Top returnees: Juniors Kevin Hunt, Michael Butler
Outlook: Carmel is in a different position than usual as the defending ESCC champion after winning its first outright title over Benet, which has won 19 titles since 1991. Kannenberg also takes over for Nancy Fehn, who led the Corsairs to a shared league title with Benet in 2010 and is still with the program as an assistant. "We lost six quality seniors and individuals, but I feel confident with a young team that we'll be competitive with many of the local programs," Kannenberg said. "Our goal is to be a top-three finisher (in the ESCC)." Dechter, last year's No. 2 singles champion, elected not to return, but Hunt was second at No. 1 singles last year and the No. 2 singles champ two years ago. Butler took second at No. 2 doubles with Paulson last year. "We are in a competitive tennis area," Kannenberg said. "We look forward to competing with the other programs and we'll need to battle for every point."
FOX VALLEY FOX
Coach: Chuck Lawson
Last season: FVC Fox Champions, fifth in FVC
Top returnees: Seniors Miguel Tolentino, Brian Zador, Derek Glennon, Andrew Patricilli, will Mock, Troy Hornung; juniors Ronald Dignadice, John Knight, Richard Hutchins
Top newcomers: Junior Rickey Tobey; sophomore Tejas Paruthooli
Outlook: Expectations are high again for the Rams as they look to repeat as FVC Fox champions with Tolentino, Zador and Glennon leading the way at the top three singles spots. "We should have a good team this year," Lawson said. "Our singles players are excellent." Lawson also likes what he sees from his top doubles crews of Knight-Hutchins and Patricilli-Dignadice. "All of these boys have made a commitment to tennis and have worked hard over the winter," Lawson said.
Coach: Jill Tomasello (eighth season)
Last season: fourth in FVC Fox, fifth in FVC, third in sectional
Key losses: Diego Novoa-Fernandez (Granvdiew -- Iowa)
Top returnees: Seniors Matt Kizhakkadthu, Zach Harmon, Nick Rice, Scott Wonsil; junior Dylan Harmon; sophomore Joe Kizhakkadthu
Top newcomers: Joe Geary, Brandon Kottmer
Outlook: A large crew of returnees has Tomasello hoping for a top-seven FVC finish for the Knights. "We have a solid team this year," Tomasello said. "With the loss of only three seniors our team has quite a bit of experience in the spots that they will be playing. I'm excited to see what our lineup ends up looking like. We have some solid players; we just need to find the right partners to get some good combinations."