NEWTON TWP. — The Abington Heights boys tennis team finished with a 14-0 Lackawanna League record and experienced a lot of success in the District 2 Class 3A Tournament last season.
Despite the graduation of several key players, head coach Tom Lavelle has confidence in this year’s group.
“We’re setting our goals high to continue to succeed in the league and districts,” Lavelle said. “I’ve been really impressed by the leadership of the seniors and I’ve been really proud of the way we’ve been coming together as a team.
“Right off the bat, I can tell they are a really cohesive unit. There is a real understanding of the benefits and need to work well together. I want them to support each other, encourage each other and offer healthy criticism where there is an area to improve upon.”
Senior Timmy Christman is the only returning singles starter. He lost to teammate Bailey Harris, who was the team’s No. 1 singles starter, in the district singles championship match last year. Christman teamed with Brian Ostrowski, who started at No. 3 singles, to win the district doubles championship.
The Comets also won the district team championship by defeating Williamsport, 3-1.
“Sweeping the district tourney is an incredible feat and is a testament to the talent and dedication of the team last year,” Lavelle said. “It’s a tough thing to try to repeat.”
Lavelle believes Christman is embracing his leadership role on the team and is striving to be a top contender in the district.
“I know Timmy is really motivated to take on the mantle of leading the team in singles,” Lavelle said. “I know he’s been working every day in the offseason to have that success.”
According to Lavelle, senior Owen Holland and sophomore Rory Harris are expected to switch from doubles to singles this season.
“I know they are putting in a lot of hard work trying to transition their game,” he said.
Sophomore Varun Iyengar and senior Arjun Iyengar return with experience in doubles play.
“They had really good seasons last season in doubles and they have continued to develop the skills and strategy needed to succeed,” Lavelle said.
The graduation of No. 1 doubles player Spencer Gilbert coupled with the moves for Holland and Harris opens a void for the Comets.
“There is a depth of potential to round out our doubles lineup,” Lavelle said. “We have a mix of returning players and newcomers competing for the spots. We’re trying to find the right combinations to have success.”
Lavelle listed Delaware Valley, Holy Cross, Scranton Prep, Valley View and Wallenpaupack as some of the top contenders in the league, but recognized each team will present challenges.
“Every team we’re going to face is going to be playing their best tennis against us,” he said. “We know there aren’t going to be any easy matches.”
Abington Heights is scheduled to open its league season by hosting Holy Cross at 4 p.m. March 22 at the Abington Heights Middle School courts, weather permitting.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.