First Posted: 3/28/2012
The Abington Heights High School boys tennis team had a very strong season last year that ended with a trip to the state tournament. The Comets finished the league season 10-0 and won team districts before being eliminated in the first round of states.
Although they lost their number one singles player, Josh Palmer, and doubles team, Michael Smertz and Mark Van Nort, along with Anthony Aveline, who was a part of their number two doubles team, the Comets have plenty of talent returning.
"With the talent that we've had in the past, there were some talented players who didn't quite make the starting lineup," Abington Heights head coach Tom Lavelle said. "We have a lot of returning players who we're hoping and expecting to contribute."
Senior Nathan Engh, the team's number two singles starter last year and sophomore Jai Redkar, who was the number three singles player, return as well as doubles starter Dan Jasinski.
There are a number of other players with varsity experience that Lavelle expects to have larger roles this season. Those players include seniors Mihir Mulloth and Chris Swisher, juniors Steven Shields, Dillan Patel, and A.J. Fiegleman and sophomore Eric Onofrey.
"They are all returning players and throughout the past two weeks they've definitely been battling each other really hard," Lavelle said. "There is a lot of competitive, close tennis.
"Rebuilding is obviously a main priority, but our kids are motivated and have put the work in this preseason, that has been very evident."
It won't be easy to replace Palmer, who was a four-time district champion, but Lavelle believes the former star left his imprint on the program. Palmer finished last season 16-1 and has earned a sport on the University of Connecticut's number two doubles team as a walk-on.
"Josh certainly set a high standard for himself and did a good job communicating that high standard to the rest of the team through his words and work ethic," Lavelle said. "In team drills, any player who wasn't necessarily at his level but had to practice against him clearly saw the level to which they have to raise their game."
Lavelle considers Delaware Valley, Scranton and Wallenpaupack as the top competition for the division title, but believes his team has the potential to contend. "I expect that the hard work the kids put in during the off-season will translate into match readiness ," he said. "Being match tough is definitely a priority for us."
The Comets defeated Wallenpaupack, 5-0, in their first match of the season.