Berkshire County boys tennis preview capsules, 2019
Tennis season is getting into full swing, and the boys field in Berkshire County looks wide open.
Big names like Ibz Zia, Kadin Shafiroff, Noah Kalischer-Coggins and Berkshire Eagle MVP Max Beckwith have moved on, leaving the local mantle up for grabs. Along with that, Monument Mountain's program, which reached the Western Massachusetts Division III semifinals last season, will not compete in 2019.
There is still plenty of burgeoning talent, and a host of up-and-comers to get acquainted with this spring. That includes two new coaches in Lenox's Shari Butler and Mount Greylock's Mike Kuranda.
"It will definitely be a rebuilding year," said Butler of her young team. "I am excited for the challenge. My focus will be fundamentals and getting the boys to enjoy the sport. Tennis is a life-long sport; if taught correctly, these boys will not only learn the game but also want to keep playing throughout their entire lives.
"I am excited to teach a sport that I have enjoyed playing since the 8th grade. Much like these boys, I started young with no experience."
The Pittsfield boys, under the direction of Berkshire Eagle Coach of the Year Dan Sullivan, return the most experienced crew in the county, and will again be looking to make noise in Division I.
"[We] return nine players from last season, including top singles players Brian Lavinio and Adam Quinto," said Sullivan. "The Generals look to return a strong team and hope to repeat as Berkshire County champions."
The Eagles of Mount Everett return a bunch of experienced players as well, while Lenox and Lee are feeling things out early in the season. John Perry's Wildcats have some top-level talent, but depth may decide whether they make a return trip to Western Mass.
Mount Greylock's program grew a bit after being unable to field a full roster last year. That includes lone senior Jacob Fink, who played No. 1 singles in the past, prior to running track last spring. For his part, Kuranda is excited to get to work.
"The team is a mix of new players and a number returning to tennis competition from other spring sports," said Kuranda, who has played club tennis for 30 years. "The team is off to a slow start, but I am optimistic we will be competitive once we get a few matches under our belts."
The pairings meeting for postseason tennis will take place on Friday, May 31, with tournament play beginning June 2. The Western Mass. finals for Division I and III will be at Saint John's High School in Shewsbury on Wednesday, June 19.
The first and second rounds of the Western Mass. Individuals tournament for boys tennis will take place at Longmeadow High School on May 11-12. The seeding meeting is May 8.
Coach: John Perry
Last year: 8-5, lost to South Hadley in Western Mass. Division III quarterfinals
Key returnees: Chris Petrescu, Soph.; Sammy Banga, Sr.; Matt Petrescu, 8th grade.
Outlook: Coach John Perry's Wildcats are coming off a strong season, but will be looking to some truly young talent to continue that run. Lee is down long-time No. 1 singles star Ibz Zia, which Perry said was a big hit for the team, but that has created a lot of beneficial competition within the roster. Challenge matches will be a regularity at Lee, with returning No. 2 Chris Petrescu likely taking over top duties to start the year. He'll be challenged immediately by brother Matt Petrescu, who saw big matches as a seventh grader a year ago. The Wildcats also graduated some senior doubles talent, but will benefit from experienced youngsters like sophomore Gabe Kelley and freshman Carter Geoghan, who have both competed at the varsity level. Perry does have five seniors on the roster, led by Sammy Banga, who can suit up in doubles or singles. Jon Somostrada, Elias Keiderling, Kyle Tisdale and Anthony Lockenwitz are the other seniors. Perry's program holds 13 underclassmen, many of whom know tennis well and the coach says he's excited to see them compete for spots.
Coach: Shari Butler
Last year: 3-8
Key returnees: None
Outlook: For her first year leading the Lenox boys tennis team, coach Shari Butler is focusing on the fundamentals and getting her young team to fall in love with the sport. The Millionaires saw a lot of veteran talent exit after last season, opening the door for host of new players to grab the reins. To start the season, Lenox will play an entire roster of underclassmen. Seventh-grader Rocco Piretti will man the No. 1 singles spot, as he has a wealth of potential and tennis in his blood. Dick Piretti Sr. will be on the sidelines aiding Butler this season, reuniting the former coach with one of his best players. Butler was a county MVP at Lenox, winning a Western Mass. title before playing at Springfield College. She also coached the Lenox girls in a previous stint. Eighth-graders Jack O'Brien and Abhiram Muthavarapu will start out backing Rocco Piretti up in the singles matches. At the doubles spots, Alexander Fuster and Owen Bayne form one team, while tandem of Eric and Neshan Vardanyan make up another. Owen Hart, Christopher Sohl, Luca Jordan and Hutch Bray will be battling for spots throughout the season as well.
Coach: Mike Kuranda
Last year: 0-12
Key returnees: Jacob Fink, Sr.; Nate Verter, 8th; Troy Michalak, Fr.
Outlook: The Mounties went from three-straight Western Massachusetts titles to missing the postseason last spring with a four-man team. Mount Greylock is bolstered this season, though, with the return of No. 1 singles player Jacob Fink, a senior with loads of experience and overall athletic ability, who ran track in 2018. Fink was a part of those title teams and will serve as a foundation for new coach Mike Kuranda. Kuranda takes over a program full of young players looking to break into the Berkshire County scene. Freshman Troy Michalak played some No. 1 singles last year as an eighth grader, while current eighth-graders Nate Verter and Altan McIntosh return with some experience already under their belts playing under girls coach John Jacobbe last season. Verter and junior Ryan Narey are starting the season playing behind Fink, while Michalak teams up with another young racket in Ryan Keating. Sophomore Gabe Gerry, and other youngsters Finn Carothers and Ben McMahon will compete for playing time as well.
Coach: Joe McSpiritt
Last year: 3-11
Key returnees: Cole Duval, Jr.; Grayson Duval, Jr.; Marc Gogel, Jr.
Outlook: Athleticism won't be a problem for the Eagles this spring, as Joe McSpiritt's crew has plenty to spare on the court. Mount Everett can get to balls anywhere on the court at any of the five positions. That is led by Cole and Grayson Duval, three-sport studs who will slide most games into the first two singles spots. Fellow junior Marc Gogel and Ethan Benoit are also strong returners who can float wherever needed. The duo paired up at first singles to open the season and both played a lot last season as well. McSpiritt will also turn to a big crew of youngsters to fill out the roster. Jordi and Jason Peck, along with Jay Seward-Dailey are all eighth-graders rapidly earning their way into the Eagles' starting lineup. Matt Kane is another versatile veteran presence, while sophomore Morgan Long is putting in work with Noah Williams at second doubles.
Coach: Dan Shane Sullivan
Last year: 12-3, lost in Western Mass. D-I quarterfinals.
Key returnees: Thomas Rindfuss, Sr.; Adam Quinto, Jr.; Brian Lavinio, Jr.
Outlook: The Generals lost No. 1 singles player Max Beckwith, but Coach Sullivan's crew will have more than enough depth, talent and drive to fill out a Division I roster. The competition to play at No. 1 singles could be a match-to-match situation, and juniors Adam Quinto and Brian Lavinio are strong enough to bring the defending Berkshire County champions back to the top. Also back is top doubles tandem Liam Fitzgibbons and senior Thomas Rindfuss, who had a strong showing at Western Mass. individuals last year. Another member of that intense junior class, Cole Masiero, will mix in at third singles or pair with athletic sophomore Andrew King at second doubles. Seniors Bryan Brophy and Matt North will fill in a starting rotation that has eyes on a repeat. The Generals are taking things one game at a time, even after sweeping their season-opener in straight sets across the board, but the goals are lofty this spring.
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