High school FL boys tennis preview: IHC looks to challenge Watertown

The race to win the Frontier League boys tennis title is expected to be a wide-open one once the season gets underway.

Inclement weather has delayed the start of the season, which was slated to commence last Tuesday. The six teams in the division are slated to play each other twice for a total of 10 league matches. The season is scheduled to start today with Alexandria at Lowville and Carthage at Immaculate Heart Central.

Watertown is the two-time defending league champion and has not lost a match since the 2015 season. The Cyclones have clinched at least a share of the league title the past six seasons, but the team lost many key players to graduation.

“We graduated out most of our team and are in the rebuilding stages,” Watertown head coach Brian Morrison said.

Watertown will have three returning starters, a returning exhibition player and six that are new to the sport, according to Morrison. David Saunders and Ben Stratton will take their partnership from the pool to the tennis court, and Jacob Maloney will be the other player to watch.

Many coaches said Immaculate Heart Central has a shot to dethrone Watertown as it returns entire starting lineup from last year’s Frontier League tournament-winning team. The Cavaliers will be led by Daniel Snow and have league champions Bugeon Choi (third singles), and the doubles pair of Griffin Morris and John Seymour (second doubles).

“IHC will be the team to beat this year with everyone back,” Indian River first-year coach Tim Callahan said.

Carthage lost its talented doubles tandem of Tyler and Giles Hayden, but has two really good singles players in Lelan O’Brien and Seth Landers. O’Brien won the second singles crown at the league tournament. Both have been doing plenty of offseason practice in the Syracuse area.

The Comets will rely on another brother tandem at first doubles in Cole and T.J. Gittins.

Lowville does return its top three singles players of Jarred Ortlieb, Tate Smith and Felix McCue. The Red Raiders, 4-6 last season, also bring back the doubles squad of Casey Woods and Brandon Phelps.

Alexandria will be led by Kyle Gionet, who placed third in the Class C-2 first singles tournament. The Purple Ghosts will look to improve from a 2-8 mark in 2017.

Indian River will have a team full of first-time players as Callahan takes over a program with plenty of good athletes. Erron Breedlove, Alex Gabriel and Cameron Strock have previous starting experience for the Warriors.

The league tournament will be May 12 at Watertown High School. Here’s a look at the rosters:

Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Terry Satterly (29th season; 18th coaching boys)

2017 record: 2-8

Player to watch: Kyle Gionet

Roster: Colby Burrows (Sr.), Shelby Dickhaut (Sr.), Kyle Gionet (Sr.), Giovanni Ortiz (Sr.), Belekali Rasulzhanov (Sr.), John Slate (Sr.), Mason Gorman (Jr.), Brennan Hemphill (Jr.), Jacob Hunneyman (Jr.), Deegan Shaffer (Jr.), Billy Delosh (Fr.), Scott Diange (Fr.).

Carthage Comets

Coach: Rich Lajoie (7th season)

2017 record: 6-4

Players to watch: Seth Landers; Lelan O’Brien

Roster: Seth Landers (Sr.), Brandon Rhode (Sr.), T.J. Gittins (Jr.), Gerard Hough (Jr.), Ryan Kahle (Jr.), Lelan O’Brien (Jr.), Braeden Dorchester (So.), Brecken Feldmann (So.), Cole Gittins (So.), Samuel Gwinn (So.), Joshua Steiner (So.).

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Rich Snow (12th season, 9th coaching boys)

Players to watch: Daniel Snow, Bugeon Choi, Griffin Morris, John Seymour

Roster: Brendan Kelly (Sr.), Nick Lapointe (Sr.), Jonathan Monnat (Sr.), Griffin Morris (Sr.), John Seymour (Sr.), Jordan Signor (Sr.), Daniel Snow (Sr.), Bugeon Choi (Jr.), Martin Pham (Jr.), Ryan Goss (Fr.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Tim Callahan (1st season)

Player to watch: Erron Breedlove

Roster: Erron Breedlove (Sr.), Michael Croft (Sr.), Damion Hance (Sr.), Christian Hankey (Sr.), Alex Gabriel (Jr.), Axel Lopez Suarez (Sr.), EJ O’Melia (Jr.), Cameron Strock (Jr.), Carson Young (Jr.), Gregory Bryant (So.), Savon Collier (So.), Jan Slezka (Fr.).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jim Rhodes (23rd season, 10th coaching boys)

Players to watch: Jarred Ortlieb, Tate Smith, Felix McCue

Roster: Felix McCue (Sr.), Collin Zehr (Sr.), Kane Richards (Jr.), Casey Woods (Jr.), Cody Hoffman (So.), Connor Nicol (So.), Jarred Ortlieb (So.), Brandon Phelps (So.), Nick Sawyer (Fr.), Tate Smith (Fr.), Hugo Zabielowicz (Fr.), David Fayle (7th); Nicolas Hetzner (7th); Drew Ortlieb (7th); Carter Rienbeck (7th); Jonathan Stacey (7th).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Brian Morrison (22nd season; 14th coaching boys)

Players to watch: David Saunders, Ben Stratton, Jacob Maloney

Roster: Nick Johnston (Sr.), Jacob Maloney (Sr.), Owen McGurire (Sr.), David Saunders (Sr.), Zachary Sprott-Scribner (Sr.), Ben Stratton (Sr.), Joshua Lasswell (Jr.), Wilfredo Munoz (Jr.), Dylan Snider (Jr.), Lucas Barney (Fr.).

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