COLONIAL DIVISION Central Bucks East's Kristen White, a finalist in the PIAA Class AAA state singles tournament two years ago, has given up tennis in favor of golf. The Patriots, who won the District 1 Class AAA team title last season, could be hard-pressed to keep up with neighboring Central Bucks West, which returns an experienced squad. Abington is young, but coach Jeff Marmon promises that the Ghosts will be competitive.
SUBURBAN ONE AMERICAN
LIBERTY DIVISION As usual, it should be a dogfight between Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Cheltenham for the title. The Colonials return three of their four singles players, as do the Panthers. Hatboro-Horsham, with the return of coach Nancy Gambale, should turn some heads.
FREEDOM DIVISION This division is young, which could mean a wide-open race for the title. Wissahickon, with two returning singles players, should battle it out with Methacton and its singles pair of Simona Navala and Allison Hanes, with a push from Upper Dublin.
INTER-ACADEMIC LEAGUE As always, Germantown Academy will battle with Penn Charter and Agnes Irwin for the league title.
PIONEER ATHLETIC CONFERENCE Upper Perkiomen lost one match to Great Valley last season and finished second behind the Patriots. Just two players graduated, though, and the Indians could win their 11th title in the last 14 years. Great Valley and Phoenixville usually are competitive.
BICENTENNIAL LEAGUE It's not every year that a state champion comes out of this league. That's what it has, though, in Jackie Carleton of Jenkintown. Lower Moreland usually is loaded with talented players, but the Lions are young and could get a push from Christopher Dock.
KEYSTONE CONFERENCE Plumstead Christian won its first conference crown last season, and just two players from that team are gone. Delco Christian could make it tough for the Panthers to repeat. Phil-Mont Christian usually is competitive.
CATHOLIC ACADEMIES Mount St. Joseph has won the last nine titles and is a good bet to make it 10 consecutive crowns if the young squad matures quickly. Merion Mercy could throw a wrench into those hopes. St. Basil returns with Courtney Tereszuk, who was undefeated last season, and the Panthers hope to make the playoffs for the second straight season. Gwynedd-Mercy, which moves over from the Bicentennial League, has always been solid.
FRIENDS SCHOOLS LEAGUE George School usually gets some good athletes who have experience in other sports. The Cougars are young, though, and coach Elena Harris will be concentrating on development, not wins. Friends' Central and Germantown Friends are perennial powers in the league.
Area Girls' Tennis Guide By Joe Fite
Players to watch
Megan Antonucci, Central Bucks West. The Bucks senior played No. 4 singles last season but has beaten out teammate Sarah Fritz for the top spot. Antonucci runs everything down and gets the ball back over the net. She plays a baseline game and has developed a spin on her serve.
Kara Bowman, Council Rock. Bowman, a senior, is the most athletic of the Indians' top three singles players. She is a power player who can dictate the match from the baseline.
Laura Halter, Pennsbury. Halter has been the Falcons' top singles player for three seasons. The senior is not big in stature, but she has a great ethic and works from the baseline. As a doubles player last season, Halter won the Suburban One League National Conference Patriot Division title. She placed third in District 1 and won a first-round match in the PIAA state tournament.
Allison Hanes, Methacton. Hanes, a senior, is a smooth player. She has a good backhand and plays the baseline but will go to the net.
Esther Kwak, Abington. According to coach Jeff Marmon, the sophomore is a good, solid baseline player. She is tenacious.
Stephanie Levy, Lower Moreland. The Lions freshman works very hard and goes for everything. Basically a baseline player, she comes to the net and wins with her intelligence. She also has a solid serve.
Katia Moroz, Cheltenham. The senior is a hard hitter from the baseline and a very good forehand shot is her weapon of choice.
Simona Navala, Methacton. The junior has a good passing shot and will take the net to cut off the lob shot. Her serve should be her strong suit.
Kristina Pao, Council Rock. Pao, a senior, is quick and, according to coach Ray Dugan, is coming into her own. She leaps on the ball and is going more to the net.
Sylvia Park, Wissahickon. A senior, Park has enough spark in her shot to overpower opponents yet maintains excellent control over her game.
Jessica Spier, Plumstead Christian. Spier, a senior, is an aggressive player who loves to go to the net.
Megan Stauffer, Upper Perkiomen. The sophomore played at No. 4 singles for half of last season before moving up to No. 3, and she was winning consistently. Stauffer is a control player.
Courtney Tereszuk, St. Basil. Tereszuk, a sophomore, is 5-foot-8, very athletic, and takes all of her shots with both hands. A baseline player, she plays more with power than finesse.
Anne Thompson, Council Rock. The senior is a student of the game and usually outprepares and outworks her opponents.
Katri Walsh, Mount St. Joseph. Walsh, a junior, is quick and has beautiful strokes. According to coach Harvey Fleegler, she has proved herself and her game picks up every day.
Teams to watch
Council Rock. The Indians could be the best team in District 1 this season. Rock won the Patriot Division and lost in the district semifinals. Coach Ray Dugan said he hopes to win at districts and has the tools to do it with the return of his top three singles players: Anne Thompson, Kristina Pao, and Kara Bowman, who played at No. 2 two years ago. Senior Marina Isupov rounds out the singles lineup. Sophomores Tiffany Pao and Kristyn Goldberg have nailed down a doubles spot. Seniors Jen Mueller, Michelle Friedman and Rebecca Short, sophomore Nagar Razavi, and freshmen Christina Wang and Shanna Morris will battle for the remaining doubles spots.
Pennsbury. It is a shame that the Falcons are in the same division as Council Rock. Pennsbury has enough weapons to contend in any other league. Coach Bob Hawk returns his top two singles players: Laura Halter and junior Michelle Spetak. Freshmen Anna Will and Marta Kuhn will play at Nos. 3 and 4 singles, respectively. Seniors Allison Macchi and Sara Rosner, along with junior Beth Angove, will play doubles.
Central Bucks West. Just two players from last year's championship team are gone. Sarah Fritz, Megan Antonucci and Stacey Rich, all seniors, return to play singles. Junior Meredith Mehra moves up to singles from doubles. Coach Frank Freitag also looks for good things from seniors Valerie Lewis and Jamie Smith and sophomore Anna Sumilat.
Abington. The Ghosts lost their top two singles players in Lydia Thomas and Amy Rosen, but coach Jeff Marmon will get the most out of his team. Sophomores Esther Kwak and Samantha Rosenberg hold down the Nos. 1 and 2 singles spots, respectively, and junior Lori Zimmaro is at No. 3. Sophomores Liza Kalikow and Carrie Sneeberger return at No. 1 doubles. Senior Rachel Margolis and freshman Allison Lewis will team up at No. 2. Liz Uffner and Dana Sichel, both seniors, are vying for the No. 3 doubles spot. Abington must mature quickly to repeat as Colonial Division champion.
Cheltenham. Just two seniors graduated from last year's team, which has Panthers coach Tom Deiley excited. Returning to the singles lineup are seniors Katia Moroz, Katie Scranton and Dara Rapaport. Sophomore Brande Hansteen and freshman Alison Schwartz are expected to compete for the No. 4 singles spot. Juniors Becky Raizman and Tracy Feldman are the top doubles team; senior Rachel Moss also will see doubles action.
Plymouth-Whitemarsh. The Colonials have three of their four singles players back from last season and will be paced by junior Jani Actman at No. 1. Seniors Jaime Curran and Jamie Brown also will hold down singles spots. Seniors Stephanie Strauss, Natalie Etskovitz and Beth Lipner, along with juniors Cheryl Davis and Candice Kilbride, will try to earn doubles positions.
Wissahickon. Four players graduated, but the rest of the division also was hit hard by graduation. Senior Sylvia Park, who was at No. 2 singles last season, moves up to No. 1. Senior Julie Stimmler goes from No. 3 to No. 2. Junior Diane Alpert and sophomore Lauren Hilton will move up from doubles into the singles lineup. Junior Stephanie Schneck and sophomore Jenna Hilton are returning doubles players. Wissahickon was 13-1, with its only loss to Upper Dublin. Coach Mark Daniels hopes to reverse that loss.
Methacton. Warriors softball coach Cathy Miller takes over for Diane Barrie for a year and has a nice nucleus with returning singles players Allison Hanes and Simona Navala. Senior Lauren Rhoades and junior Jenna Badar will compete for the final two singles spots, as will senior Sandy Maliniak. Miller has her team using Methacton's new weight room and is looking for the Warriors to be aggressive.
Upper Perkiomen. The Indians lost one match last season, and coach Bill Jacobs said his team is a lot stronger than that contingent after working out in the off-season. The rest of the Pioneer Athletic Conference better look out. Jacobs lost two players (one graduated, one transferred), but is set with a singles lineup of sophomore Megan Stauffer and seniors Kristen Reed, Nicole Willis and Brooke Baver. Senior Deb Weidman will team with sophomore Courtney Root at No. 1 doubles, seniors Michelle Zajac and Kelly Stauffer will compete at No. 2, and senior Jamie Rickert will join junior Megan Wise at No. 3. Upper Perkiomen has won 10 of the last 13 league titles.
Lower Moreland. Coach Jeanette Hausman returns after a year off and hopes that the Lions can repeat as Bicentennial champs. Lower Moreland has won every title in the history of the league. Freshman Stephanie Levy will play at No. 1 singles and will be joined by sophomore Katie O'Brien, senior Lauren Muchnick, and junior Amber Oser in the singles lineup.
Mount St. Joseph. The Chiefs won the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies title last season, but five of their top eight players graduated. Junior Katri Walsh has jumped from No. 7 on the depth chart to No. 1 singles. Senior tri-captains Liz Rymar and Annie Longon, along with junior Marisa Schaffer should round out the singles lineup. Senior tri-captain Allison Cohen, junior Jenna Vaccaro, and sophomores Kasey Vivas and Jane Scholl also figure in the mix. The Mount is coached by Harvey Fleegler, who coached the Temple University men's team from 1971 to 1982.
Plumstead Christian. Nobody expected the Panthers to win the Keystone Conference last season except maybe the Panthers. Well, they're back and probably just as good, but they won't be able to sneak up on the rest of the league this season. Coach Doris Spier's second doubles team is gone, but she thinks they are capably replaced by eighth-grader Kate Aungst and junior Kelly McGrath. Jessica Spier, the only senior on the team, holds down the top singles spot. Juniors Krista Forgeng and Kate Wyble also will play singles. League doubles champions Colleen Beach, a junior, and Chrissie Spier, a sophomore, return.