"We're way behind," coach Leo Scoda said, referring to the rain and snow that have hampered all teams.
Scoda has compiled a remarkable 354-55 record in 31 years as the coach, but he scoffs at being called a great coach. "You coach long enough, you pile up a few wins," he said with a smile.
Returning for Phoenixville is senior Fernado Cubas, the team's No. 1 singles player, who won the PAC-10 singles crown last season. Cubas won his first-round match in the District 1 championships before losing. He won his opening match this season by beating Methacton's Scott Harper, 6-0, 6-0.
"Cubas played a lot of summer tennis and played very well," Scoda said. ''If he gets a decent draw, who knows what he might do in districts. Remember that District 1 is the toughest district in the state."
At No. 2 singles, senior Rob Jarvie has moved up from No. 4. Thad Gray, a junior, and senior Ryan Martinez, who had doubles experience last season, are expected to fill the other singles spots this season.
At No. 1 doubles will be seniors Mike Currie and Wagdy Okaily.
"It appears to be wide open after that," Scoda said.
Jack Juncker teamed with Cory Schmitt and Chris Henry and Jared Gray, Thad's younger brother, to fill out the doubles card against Methacton. Juncker-Schmitt won in straight sets, and Henry-Gray had to go three sets to win.
Scoda sees Great Valley as the Phantoms' toughest league competition, as usual.
"My 1992 team was one of the best I ever coached," Scoda said.
"We lost some people, and I think Great Valley felt they could beat us last season. We surprised them down there. But that was early in the season. We play them April 14 this year."
Scoda should get a good line on his team Wednesday and Thursday when the Phantoms host their annual tournament at the Worcester Racquet Club.
In addition to Phoenixville, the teams at the 11th annual invitational will be West Chester East, State College and Central Bucks West. Play begins at noon both days.
"It's a neat tournament," Scoda said. "The format has the No. 1 and No. 2 singles playing among each other and the No. 3 and 4 playing each other. There will be consolations, so every player is guaranteed two matches. The doubles teams are put in a pool."
Great Valley would like nothing better than to eliminate the perennial bridesmaid tag that has been placed on it by Phoenixville. The Patriots went 8-1 in the league last season, losing only to the Phantoms.
Patriots third-year coach Paul Waltz says his team should have a shot at the Phantoms. Only Talbot Gee graduated.
"I think we look very good," Waltz said. The Patriots scored a 6-1 victory over Unionville, one of the usually strong teams in the Southern Chester County League, on Wednesday.
Mike Cowgill and Jamie Hassall won the first two singles matches for the Patriots.
"They could be interchangeable (between No. 1 and No. 2)," Waltz said.
"Cowgill is a senior, and Hassall, whose father, Terry, is a tennis pro, is only a sophomore. They are definitely two different styles."
* It has been an annual battle between West Chester East and 1993 champion Downingtown. The title was the Whippets' first outright championship. They shared it with East the year before.
Although those two schools should slug out it for the crown, West Henderson and Coatesville are expected to be improved.
Downingtown, which split two matches last week, will be without ace Marc Dimino, now a freshman playing for Penn State. Although Dimino had an uneven year for him last season, he did finish third for the second straight time in the PIAA championships. He lost the District 1 title that he had won the year before.
With Dimino, Matt Baker and Ryan Waddell gone, coach Becky Desmond will turn to a number of experienced players.
"Of course, we haven't had any playoffs (for spots)," Desmond said before the Whippets' 5-2 loss to Strath Haven on Tuesday. They rebounded to beat Coestoga, 4-3, on Friday. Among those still in the battle for spots are Tom Sibley, Dan King, Ryan Zansitis, Ryan Ferris, Steve Pacinelli, Ron Pia, Brian Dewees, Matt Magarahan, Drew Stolar, Pete Lubeck and Ron McCune.
Freshman Dan McCune, Rod's younger brother, could be a contender for a varsity position. "He's very strong, but he's going to have to earn a position," Desmond said.
"We won't have any superstars, but we should be equal down through the lineup. We have a lot of seniors, but I see that to our advantage - they are mature. I guess they call that depth."
Bob Nutting enters his 17th season at East, which went 14-4 last season and reached the second round of the District 1 team competition before losing to eventual champion Council Rock.
"We had a good run," said Nutting, who has compiled a 186-51-1 record at East.
Based on the returning players, Nutting should see another good run this season. Heading the list is No. 1 singles player Brian Nelsen, a junior. Matt Clapp, another junior, returns at No. 2. Both earned a doubles berth at the PIAA championships last season.
"Brian is a basketball player - that is his sport. He'll get much better as the season goes on," Nutting said. "Clapp took some time off before the season, but he's rounding into shape."
Two more juniors, Matt Kochis and Ted Low, return with doubles experience. They are expected to move to singles. Two other juniors, Ryan McCormack and Craig Wilhelmsen, earned letters last season, along with senior Chandon Karnick.
"We had a good JV team, too," Nutting said.
He expects freshman Ian Gibbs, sophomore Eric Sugulski and junior Todd Schneider also to make contributions.
"We'll be close" in the league race, he said.
Henderson has a new coach in Kyle Hawthorne, a pro at the Lionville Sports Club who is working with a relatively young club. Co-captains Dave Ferguson and Luke Szymanski, who are expected to hold down two of the singles spots, and third doubles player Nam Ong are seniors. Hawthorne expects to fill most of the other spots with underclassmen.
Junior Pat Collins and freshman Chris Rudai have been battling for the No. 1 spot. The brothers doubles team of Bill and Matt Carroll is made up of a junior and freshman. The No. 2 doubles team appears to be sophomores Scott Myers and Ted Burneson. Jeff Miller teamed with Ong at third doubles in the Warriors' loss to Oxford last week.
Gerry Quedenfeld begins his seventh season at Coatesville. The team was 7-9 last season.
Five key players graduated, but junior Andy Baccile, senior captain Rom Kummerer and seniors Carlo Charriez and Brad Copeland have experience. Copeland played as a ninth and 10th grader, but then took a year off.
Quedenfeld also expects big things from sophomore Bill Chriswell.
"We had a gutty performance," Quedenfeld said after a 5-2 loss to Kennett on Thursday. "I think our program is moving in the right direction."
* Unionville has won the championship outright or shared it in each of the last 11 seasons, so the Indians have to be rated a favorite, if for no other reason than their reputation. They shared the title with Kennett last season.
Chris Adams, one of the area's top singles players, is now a freshman at Tufts. He was one of four seniors who graduated.
Coach Deb Hillman has 22 players on her squad, including 10 freshmen.
Seniors John Mancini and Cyrus Semii, newcomer junior Mike Plotzker and freshman Dave Miltenberger appear to be the top singles prospects. Miltenberger scored the lone win at third singles in the Indians' 6-1 loss to Great Valley on Wednesday.
"For some, it's their first time playing singles," Hillman said. "We do have some inexperience. I'm hoping some of the freshmen will prove to be a challenge to the upperclassmen."
Kennett will look for another winning season. The Blue Demons were 9-1 in the league last season.
Juniors Nate Pfeiffer, Ted Collins and Mark Johnston return from last season, along with seniors Josh Amoss and Mike O'Neill, for coach Ken Riale
Octorara coach Kaj Miller is hoping for improvement over last season's 4-8 mark and fifth-place finish in the SCCL. He has everyone back, including junior Jose Marques who is expected to be the No. 1 singles player. Other returning players are Greg Hajcak (junior), Wyatt Warfel (senior) and Matt Dizel (senior). Doubles players include Andy Loue, Kevin Wilson, Dave Stoltzfus, Brian Lyman, Greg Fitzgerald and Greg Ewing. Wilson is a senior, the others are underclassmen.
Senior Greg Huntington returns to lead Oxford, which has a new coach, Marc Watson. Avon Grove returns eight seniors who saw action last season, including Jeff Brunke, Mike Martini, Doug Yurechko, Matt Thompson, Aaron Ragan, Doug
Newhard, Jeff Bobish and Eric Pennypacker. Juniors Matt Goudy and Tadd Leaman will probably be the third doubles team. Senior Matt Bonds, another of the league's top players, returns to lead Bishop Shanahan.
* Jeff Holton begins his third season as coach at Church Farm, which was co-champion of the Keystone Conference last season with a 9-1 mark.
Senior Dave Bess, the team's No. 1 singles player, and doubles players Axel Addy and Bart Bronk return from that team. Addy is a senior, and Bronk is a sophomore.