Three local squads advanced to the PIAA 3A Boys Team Tennis Championship last spring – Conestoga, Unionville and Downingtown East – and the Pioneers went all the way to the championship finals. This spring, all three of these teams feature key players that contributed to their respective high finishes at States last spring, including the 2022 Daily Local News Boys Tennis Player of the Year, Downingtown East’s Abhiraj Srivastava.
Here’s a look at the local high school boys’ tennis squads:
Avon Grove: The Red Devils have two returning singles players, senior Jack Perlman and sophomore Joe Ingram. Senior captain Garrett Morris will be playing a key role in singles and doubles this year. There will be many new faces on the doubles courts but senior Niam Patel is back for his fourth season.
“We lost our standout player last spring, Joe Yarbrough, to graduation, but as a current University of Delaware student, he has returned as an assistant coach and will help lead the team to a successful season,” said Avon Grove head coach Diane Maund.
Bishop Shanahan: Key returnees include junior Tommy Duncheskie (second singles), seniors Conal Bonass and Marty Steinetz (first doubles), seniors Kevin McConlogue and Jon Sprows (second doubles) and senior Tyler Metz (third doubles). Others to watch include freshman Daniel Gallagher (first singles) and sophomore Michael Ziegler (third singles).
“Because of the experience of our seniors and the new players we have added to the team, I believe we are a better team than last year,” said Shanahan head coach Michael Owens. “Our biggest challenge is we have many players who are athletic, but with limited tennis experience.”
Coatesville: The Red Raiders, who were winless last spring, have only seven players on their team. The leading players are senior William McClore at first singles, junior Evan Byerley at second singles and junior Sam Campos at third singles.
“We need more people to come out for the team – getting more kids is our biggest challenge,” said head coach David Phillips.
Conestoga: The Pioneers return a solid singles lineup that includes senior Justin Xu, who finished fourth in the PIAA 3A state singles tournament last spring. He also placed third in the Central League tournament and was the fifth-place finisher in the District 1 3A singles championships.
Another key returning singles player is sophomore Rohan Rao, who last spring finished fourth in the Central League singles tournament, then advanced to the quarterfinals of the District 1 3A singles tournament.
Pioneer senior Aaron Sun is another key returning singles player. He teamed with Rao last spring to win the Central League doubles title, finish fifth in the District 1 3A doubles tournament, and advance to the quarterfinals of the PIAA 3A state doubles tourney.
Key doubles players returning include junior Basil Lubiniecki, who played first doubles last year; sophomore Raphie Lubiniecki and senior Vincent Yao, who played second doubles last year; and juniors Derek and Francis Qin, who played fourth doubles last year.
Delaware Valley Friends: Key returnees include junior Oscar Goldwater at first singles, junior Ayush Dugar and senior Vijay Patel at singles, and three doubles players – junior Sam Lipkin, junior Skylar Moore and sophomore MG Pothen. Another doubles player to watch is junior Andrew Piano, who played lacrosse last spring.
“Our greatest strength is the experience we gained from last year,” said Jeff Sacks, who is co-coach along with Roni Sacks. “Hopefully the players will remember and learn from their losses more than rejoicing in their victories. Our weakness is in not knowing how the doubles teams will play because they all have new partners this spring.”
Devon Prep: Key returning players for the Tide include sophomore singles players Pierce Rohlfing and Chris Rohner. Freshman Nace Barry has had an encouraging start to the season and is competing for a singles spot. Other names to watch are sophomores David Hewitt, John Barnhart, Liam MacDonald and James Gabriele, freshman Will Shank and juniors Ron Wolfe and Diego Alonso, who are all competing for doubles spots.
“We are an extremely young team,” said first-year head coach Austin Starczewski. “With only two juniors and no seniors on the roster, we will need to use every day as an opportunity to learn and improve as we go. However despite their youth, this team does not lack talent. A lot of these guys have been playing together for a long time now, and it shows in the chemistry the team has on and off the court. We have a great opportunity in front of us to be highly competitive both this season and in those to come.”
Downingtown East: The Cougars will be led by the senior duo of Abhiraj and Ahbineet Srivastava, who last spring made it to the championship finals of the PIAA 3A doubles tournament, was the District 1 3A doubles champions, the Ches-Mont National Division doubles champion, and one of the four All-Ches-Mont National Division doubles teams. Other returnees include sophomore Shrihan Madam, senior Rohun Gargya, sophomore Ashwin Natarajan, senior Devin McBride and senior Sachiel Varada. Two freshmen to watch are Soumil Patel and Vishruth Madam.
“Our biggest strength is our teamwork and camaraderie,” said D-East head coach Chris Waychunas. “Our biggest challenge will be staying the course to success.”
Downingtown West: The Whippets return several starters this spring. Sophomore Leo Shi will be playing first singles after posting a 12-10 record at second singles (and some first singles) last spring. Junior Jack Sheldon is returning at third singles after posting a 10-9 record at third singles (and a couple of second singles matches) last spring. Seniors Rachit Bajpai and Aditya Kadiyala anchored second doubles last year and will step up to first doubles this spring.
Other Whippets to watch include sophomore Cash Bailey at second singles (he played fourth doubles last year) and freshman Alexander Sheldon at doubles.
“Cash is a complete athlete who has stepped up his game in the offseason playing in USTA matches,” said D-West head coach Justin DePietropaolo. “Alexander is our top newcomer, and will start out at third or fourth doubles but could work his way up the lineup.
“Our main strength will be our doubles because we return so many varsity caliber players. Leo Shi plays USTA tournaments every other weekend during the offseason, so he has what it takes to play our top position and Jack Sheldon is at the same spot as last year with another year of experience. The only thing lacking this year would be that top tournament level player or two with a UTR of 7 or 8 that Downingtown East and Unionville have.”
Great Valley: The Patriots return senior singles players and captains Krish and Revant Mendiratta, along with sophomore Vivek Arvind. Krish Mendiratta and Arvind captured third and fourth place in the Ches-Mont American singles tourney last spring. Other players to watch are senior captains Will Otterbein and Charlie Noll, along with sophomores Anuh Awatramani and Josh Verano.
“Our biggest strength is that our singles lineup returns intact,” said Great Valley head coach Gerry McGrath. “Our biggest challenge is that much of our lineup is young and untested.
“I feel we’ll be competitive with teams in the area. It remains to be seen if we can have the big performances in key matches that you need if you’re going to make the post season — we’re looking forward to the opportunities to find out.”
Kennett: The Blue Demons are led by senior Cooper Seele at first singles, sophomore Logan Leighton at second singles and freshman Will Engle at third singles.
“We have a small, very young team this year,” said Kennett head coach Ken Riale, who has been coaching the squad since 1984. “It will be a growing year.”
Malvern Prep: The Friars’ best player is junior Hayden Fisher, who Malvern head coach Anthony DeCecco calls, “the backbone of our team. He had an excellent season last year playing mostly seniors at first singles.” Junior Patrick McKeever is another returning singles player, and the only returning seniors are Patrick O’Donnell and Michael McDevitt, who DeCecco said should play a big part on the team.
“We had eight seniors graduate last spring, which opens up slots for much of our younger talent,” said DeCecco. “Our JV team went undefeated last year so we are excited to field an experienced but still young squad. We’ve added Bob Marsilio and Neale Boyle to our coaching staff, and we have a ton a young talent and depth is our strength. Our challenge will be putting together doubles teams that synch and finding playing time for our underclassmen.”
Oxford: The Hornets are led by seniors Jacob Horton at first singles, Liam Hale at second singles and Luke Schoessler at third singles. Senior Connor Michael and freshman Ben Fields are at first doubles.
“Our biggest strength is that we have a great group of kids who are extremely coachable and are improving every day,” said Oxford head coach Justin Hostetter. “This is the largest team we have had since I began coaching, so it will be nice to have players pushing each other all year. Our biggest challenge is a lack of overall tennis experience — we’re in a very talented league.”
Unionville: The Longhorns made it to the round of eight at the PIAA 3A State Team Tennis Championships in Hershey last spring, and they hope to have as much success again this year, if not more. The Longhorns will be led at singles by sophomores Matt Miller and Andrew Ou, as well as senior Matt Farrell. Last spring, Ou won the Ches-Mont American Division singles tournament. The heart of the Longhorns doubles teams this spring will be seniors Jack Barrickman, Ryan Megill, Nate Butler and sophomore Andy Ye.
Unionville head coach Jimmy O’Rourke said, “Our team has one of its best freshman classes this year in quality and quantity, so we hope to be a top team for years to come.”
West Chester East: The Vikings’ top key returnees are sophomore Ben Gao at first singles (was district qualifier in singles and doubles last year) and senior Kyle Finding at second singles (was district qualifier in doubles last year). Other players to watch include senior Maahir Tammara at third singles, junior Yug Mittal at doubles, and sophomore Jacob Vengal at doubles.
“After losing 16 seniors to graduation last year, we are a young team with a strong sophomore and junior class,” said West Chester East head coach Mike Orenshaw. “Ben Gao and Kyle Finding will use their extensive experience to lead the team from the top two singles spots. What our younger guys may lack in experience, they make up for in resiliency and effort.”
West Chester Henderson: Warrior head coach Peter Sok said, “We graduated 11 starters from our team last (June) so this season is really a rebuilding year for us.”
Henderson sophomore Patrick Sinnott, senior Aansh Devpura and senior James Moffett will lead the Warriors at first, second and third singles respectively.
“We hope to be competitive in our league and improve our skill sets as individual players and as a team,” said Sok.
West Chester Rustin: Golden Knight junior Jack Benedetto returns to take over the first singles spot and freshman Anish Arora will play second singles. Rustin juniors Cameron Benedetto and Vijay Upadhyay return and will play either first or second doubles.
“In a rebuilding year we will look to be as competitive as possible in all matches,” said Rustin head coach Billy McElroy.
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