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GIRLS TENNIS PREVIEW: District brings back a lot of talent, including defending state champ Cassens
Thomas Jefferson Raiders
Coach: Andrew Buchan (22nd year)
Last year's record: 9-1 (co-SPSL Central champions)
Key returners: Jr. Krista Nakamura; Jr. Breanna Ziccarelli; Soph. Michelle Lee.
Strong newcomers: Sr. Melissa Greenheck.
Key losses: Averi Kitsch, Mackenzie Qualls, Caroline Min, Vanessa Sariego, Hayley Albrecht, Mari Hamashima, Cherina Warnes and Charlene Yamasaki.
Notable: The Raiders are coming off another South Puget Sound League Central Division title. But longtime head coach Andrew Buchan will have to do it this season without 10 players from last year.
"We have the advantage of being the returning league champion," Buchan said. "However, graduating 10 people means that we will be doing some rebuilding."
The Raiders will be counting on junior Breanna Ziccarelli to provide scoring. Last year, Ziccarelli was two matches from the state tournament. Also back are Krista Nakamura and Michelle Lee.
"Breanna should be one of the better singles players in the league," Buchan said. "We know how to win and had a strong JV last year. So we are pretty deep."
Federal Way Eagles
Coach: Josh Agpalza (first year)
Last year's record: 3-7 (fourth in SPSL Central)
Key returners: Sr. Haley Ward, Jr. Lauren Lang, Jr. Mina Park, Sr. Michelle Lee, Sr. Corsica Parker, Sr. Nycole Rogers and Sr. Janna Umetin.
Key losses: Dalynn Wingard, Vanessa Pham, Katrina Honrade and Andrea Ferguson.
Notable: The Eagles return plenty of talent, including the doubles' team of Lauren Lang and Mina Park. The twosome finished sixth at the West Central District Tournament to qualify for a berth into the Class 4A State Girls Tennis Tournament as sophomores.
The Federal Way team won three-straight loser-out matches at districts after finishing in eighth at the SPSL Tournament.
Also back is Haley Ward, who finished in eighth place at the SPSL Tournament in singles' action.
Coach: Tyler Parsons (second year)
Last year's record: 2-7 (fifth in SPSL Central)
Key returners: Sr. Ruth Yi, Sr. Sandina Antoine; Soph. Jenny Hoefel.
Key losses: Jessika Sutcliff; Kelly Erickson and Sara Miller.
Notable: The Titans struggled last season in the SPSL Central Division, but return a lot of the talent.
Back for Beamer are senior Ruth Yi and Sadina Antoine, along with sophomore Jenny Hoefel. According to head coach Tyler Parsons, the Titans' strength this season will come on the doubles' courts.
Coach: John Cassens
Last year's record: 9-1 (co-champs of SPSL Central)
Key returners: Sr. Meghan Cassens; Christina Sessoms; Selena Schugarts; Channel Carlson; Alicia Hanson; Jen Kenesta; Jessica Kim.
Top newcomers: Kamila Nowosab.
Notable: The Gators enter the SPSL 3A Division after finishing 12-1 last year to win the SPSL Central Division title, along with Thomas Jefferson.
Leading the list of returners is Meghan Cassens. The senior has played in the last three state championship matches, winning singles titles as a sophomore and junior. Cassens has already committed to play in the fall at Iowa State University. Her only loss of her high school career came in the state title match during her freshman season.
It's most likely that Cassens will compete in doubles this season, according to her coach and dad, John. The Gators also bring back five other seniors, who will make Decatur the favorites to win the SPSL 3A Division.
"This is a new league for us," John Cassens said. "So I hope it works out OK."