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updated: 3/31/2014 8:09 PM

Boys tennis: Scouting the Fox Valley

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  • Elgin's Reza Khan returns a serve during the Upstate Eight River meet last season.

      Elgin's Reza Khan returns a serve during the Upstate Eight River meet last season.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

By Cameron LaFerle
Daily Herald Correspondent

Cary-Grove TrojansCoach: Amanda Schuetzle (4th year)

Conference: FVC Valley

2013 record: 17-7 (4th in the Fox Valley Conference Tournament)

Top returning athletes: Kevin Maas (Sr. Doubles), Evan Jensen (Jr.), Kyle Venet (Jr. Singles)

Key newcomers: AJ Lamb (Sr.), Mitch Kedzior (Jr.), Brian Teper (Jr.)

Season outlook: Graduating 9 of their starting 11 players, including singles state qualifier Owen Russell, a lot is up in the air right now for the Trojans as far as starting positions. But according to Schuetzle, the competition should help the players get ready for the season. "Starting positions are up in the air and it will be competitive within the team to earn a spot," Schuetzle said. "There's definitely potential and we are looking forward to fitting players in the right positions and seeing what we can do this season." Returning starters Maas (doubles) and Venet (singles) will be key for the Trojans as they look to compete with Jacobs and Prairie Ridge this season.

Dundee-Crown ChargersCoach: Harlan Miller (23rd year)

Conference: FVC Valley

2013 record: 2-14

Top returning athletes: Chad Wagner (Jr.), Colin Stieler (Sr.), Jeremy Naber (Sr.)

Season outlook: With the 2013 season firmly in their rear view mirror, the Chargers are going to look to rebound after a disappointing season in which they only won 2 matches. Led by returning seniors Stieler and Naber, along with the junior Wagner, the Chargers coach of 23 years Miller says he wants his team to be competitive in the always difficult Fox Valley Conference. "Crystal Lake South is always strong in our conference, as is Prairie Ridge," Miller said. "We're looking to be competitive." Losing just one senior to graduation will help with the added experience across the board.

Elgin MaroonsCoach: Larry DeHaan (13th year)

Conference: UEC River

2013 record: 12-10

Top returning athletes: Reza Khan (Sr. Singles), John Hoskins (Jr.), Josh Hegel (Jr.), Mark Chounkolne (Sr.)

Top newcomers: Jacobs Narayan (Fr.)

Season outlook: Even as the weather flirted with below freezing temperatures early in the season, the Maroons were outside on the court trying to get ready for the season. "That's the type of weather you can expect in Chicagoland," DeHaan said. "We have a very enjoyable team, a bunch of hardworking guys, and we want these kids to go and play the right way." With three key seniors returning in Chounkolne, Hoskins and Khan, who will start at No. 1 singles and play some doubles, and the freshman Narayan bouncing between the second and third slot in both, DeHaan feels as though the Maroons have a chance to shock the Upstate Eight River. "The St. Charles schools, Batavia and Geneva are all tough, but we want to upset someone out there. We want to make a run at a conference championship in singles or doubles," he said.

Elgin Academy HilltoppersCoach: Greg Repede (5th year)

Conference: 0-5 in the Independent School League

2013 record: 7-12

Top returning athletes: Michael Palmer (Sr. Singles), Brain Tran (Jr.), Tano Xayasarn (Jr.), Ben Oriold (Jr.), Quin Phalen (Jr.), Nathan Schafer (Jr.). Frankie Bisconti (So.), Julian Romano (So.).

Key newcomers: Max Hochreiter (Jr.)

Season outlook: After a less than stellar year, the Hilltoppers are going into the 2014 season with a strong roster of returnees, including 5 juniors and their No. 1 singles player, Palmer. "Michael Palmer is a legitimate number one," Repede said of his sole returning senior. "We have a number of players who have been in our program for years. They do have limited varsity experience but are hard workers who will improve." Rounding out the roster will be junior newcomer Hochreiter.

Hampshire Whip-PursCoach: Bill Jepsen (1st year)

Conference: FVC Fox

2013 record: 14-8

Top returning athletes: Elisha Hougland (Sr. Singles), Jake Dalhberg (Sr. Doubles), Chad West (Sr. Doubles)

Season outlook: After a successful 2013 season that saw a conference champion and two sets of state qualifiers, the Whip-Purs' returnees look to be in even better position this year. Hougland will look to defend his singles conference crown and get back to the state tournament, with doubles partners Dalhberg and West trying and do their part and make it back downstate "The Fox Valley format is 3 singles and 4 doubles, so quality play from doubles players will be the focus for our team," Jepsen said. Experience at the varsity level is not always a luxury first-year coaches get, but Jepsen will have just that as he take over the boys squad after coaching the girls in the fall.

Huntley Red RaidersCoach: Barry Wells (9th year)

Conference: FVC Valley

2013 record: 11-9

Top returning athletes: Connor Smith (Sr. Singles), Josh Simons (Jr. Singles), Mike Zornow (Sr. Singles), Matt Frederick (Sr. Doubles), Jack Grabner (So. Doubles), Brendan Hagn (Jr.).

Key newcomers: Von Navarro (Sr.), Ronit Ved (Jr.), Jason Downs (Jr.) Riley Michel (Jr.) Harry Hochwarter (Jr.)

Season outlook: Losing just two players to graduation while gaining five new players, the Red Raiders are in a position to build and improve upon last season. Though the weather has made it difficult to find the right lineup, Wells believes that his team has a chance to do something it has never done before. "We've never had a boy from Huntley qualify for the state meet and I think that we have a good chance this year," Wells said. Leading that charge will be returning No. 1 singles player Smith and the No. 1 doubles combo of Frederick and Grabner, with Simons and Zornow vying to fill the final singles spots and compete against the top of the conference. "Jacobs probably has the best talent but Prairie Ridge has got good athletes and depth," Wells said.

Jacobs Golden EaglesCoach: Jon Betts

Conference: FVC Valley

2013: FVC regular season co-champion, Elgin sectional champion, state top 20

Top returning athletes: Kallash Panchapakesan, Kendrick Chong, Riley Rowan, Matt Toomire, Kyle Powell, Will Lihy, Michael Bujac, Lucas Bleneman

Season outlook: With a lot of returning talent, the Golden Eagles are in a good position to repeat as FVC champions. But Betts knows that his team will have to keep working and improving. "We have some tremendous talent returning at the top of the lineup," Betts said. "But we'll need a great effort from every member of our team to put ourselves in contention for a conference title." After five years as the Hampshire head coach, Betts knows what his Golden Eagles can bring to the court as well as the competition that they can expect to face this season. "Prairie Ridge is the clear favorite to repeat as conference champs. Keeping pace with them will require commitment and focus," he said.

Larkin RoyalsCoach: Kevin Schillerstrom (2nd year)

Conference: UEC River

Top returning athletes: Javier Hernandez (Sr.), Luc Flowers (Sr.), Nick Perez (Sr.)

Key newcomers: Armando Villagran (So.)

Season outlook: With three seniors coming back to the court, the Royals will have a veteran presence going into the 2014 season, which will hopefully lead to a few more wins both in conference and outside of it. In just his second year as coach, Schillerstrom will rely on all of that experience to improve over last year. "We only won a few duals at the varsity level last year and we would like to improve on that," Schillerstrom said.

South Elgin Storm

Coach: Brett Johnson (3rd year)

Conference: UEC Valley

2013: 22-14, tied for second overall in conference tournament, 2 state qualifiers

Top returning athletes: Andre Norasith (Sr. Singles), Aayush Patel (Sr. Doubles)

Key newcomers: Paolo Velenzuela (Jr. Singles), Justin Tran (Jr. Doubles), Arsh Salwan (Jr. Double), Kevin Lee (Jr. Singles or Doubles), Brandon Do (Jr. Singles), Jaevion Manzano (So. Singles or Doubles)

Season outlook: With a young team in terms of varsity experience, the Storm are going have to rely on their top two returning starters and state qualifiers, but Johnson see this as an opportunity to see his team grow. "Our goal is to go out and compete at the highest level possible," Johnson said. "I think early on we will struggle, but we have a lot of players that just love to play tennis and they are hungry to improve." The Storm's top returner, Norasith, is closing in on 100 singles victories and will go for his fourth straight year as a state qualifier while Patel will try and make it downstate for his third year. Each will play a role as the Storm look to repeat last year's success as they try to compete with Neuqua Valley for the conference title.

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