Last week, in part one of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School spring sports preview, The Times covered baseball, softball and track and field. This week, we look at girls and boys tennis; girls and boys lacrosse; and sailing. The biggest change will be in boys tennis, where Josh Schaan takes over the head coaching duties from Ned Fennessy who retired last June after 23 seasons, 290 wins, and back-to-back state championships. Coach Connie McHugh’s girls tennis team are three-time defending Eastern Athletic Conference champs and again figure to be strong contenders. Girls lacrosse coach Betsy Dripps and boys lacrosse coach Chris Greene are both optimistic about improved seasons. Each team has a host of experienced players returning, anchored by strong senior leadership. Coach Andrew Burr’s Vineyard sailors, defending Cape and Island champs and ranked among the top 15 in New England last season, could be even better this year.
Talk about being the guy succeeding Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. Rookie boys tennis coach Josh Schaan takes the helm from 23-year coach Ned Fennessy, whose charges went 55-1 with two state championships in his final two seasons.
The team’s only returning senior is captain Patrick McCarthy, voted the leadership role last spring by his peers. Joining him are juniors Dunovan Belisle and Charlie Parkhurst, sophomores Connor Downing and Anders Nelson, and freshmen Zak Danz, Malcolm Hammond, James Kelleher, Ben Nadelstein, and David Webster.
Mr. Schaan has spent his spring reviewing the troops and likes what he sees.
“We know that Patrick will be our number one singles player, but we have not made decisions on other spots,” he said. In high school tennis, team players compete in a round robin tournament to determine who will be the top singles and doubles players.
“I am pleased with the consistency of play on the team,” the coach said. “We are young, half the team are freshman, but many of these kids are experienced tennis players, playing inside at the tennis club at the airport and outside at the tennis club (in Oak Bluffs),
“It’s tough to find a weakness in terms of skill level, but we are tight on numbers. We have nine players now and we need seven to field a match team, so hopefully we stay healthy. There are a lot of guys at the same level, a good thing because it means there will be good healthy competition.”
Mr. Schaan is looking forward to the regular season which begins April 2 against Norton High School. “That will give a sense of the level of play in Massachusetts high school tennis,” he said. The team plays two additional road matches before opening at home against Bishop Stang in EAC conference play on April 9 at 3 pm.
The girls lost six players to graduation but return a host of juniors, including Samantha Potter, currently ranked 65th in New England, her twin sister, Charlotte Potter, Josie Iadicicco, Diamond Araujo, Avery Hazell, and Mia Arenberg, along with sophomore Olivia Jacobs.
Coach Connie McHugh also has a host of newcomers in junior Charlotte Hammond; sophomores Ellie O’ Callghan, Chanaporn Etisisi, Nellie Katsman, and Amadine Muniz; and freshman Monica Carroll, Alison Daigle, Olivia Knight, Madison McBride, and Lucy Ulyatt.
With a strong mixture of experience and youth, Coach McHugh expects the Vineyarders to contend for the EAC title yet again. “We have a nice combo of depth and talent,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t compete for the conference title again. We have no seniors, so we have lots of room for improvement and growth.”
The players have also benefited from the help of team trainers Phyllis Kugler, Kye Howell, and Kris Martin, along with assistant coach Cathy Lattanzi. “Our trainers have been very helpful with strength training and conditioning,” Coach McHugh said.
The Vineyarders opened the season Wednesday afternoon with an away match at Cape Cod Academy. The girls should get stiff competition from EAC rivals Bishop Feehan and non-league Ursuline Academy of Dedham. The starting lineup for the opener had Sam Potter playing first singles; Josie Iadicicco, second singles; Charlotte Potter, third singles; Diamond Araujo and Avery Hazell, first doubles; with Charlotte Hammond and Madison McBride, second doubles.
Fifth-year head coach Chris Greene has been with high school lacrosse for 17 years and he has a good feeling about his team this year.
”We’re coming off tough year, no question (4-15),” he said. “Last year was frustrating because we lost seven or eight games by a single goal. The record was not a reflection of the program.”
Mr. Greene’s optimism is based on what he’s seeing on the practice field this spring. “This is year two of a teaching process and everyone is on the same page,” he said. “They are very positive. We are three to four weeks ahead of where we were last year at this time. And for the first time in a while, we have more than one goalie — and they are both (junior Austin Fournier and sophomore Eli Laikin) playing well.”
Mr. Greene fields a team with six seniors led by captains Tony Canha and John Henry O’Shaughnessy. Returning seniors include attackers Sam Burke, Taymon Brown, midfielder Tyler Paulson, and defender Lochlund Chimes. “The seniors will play big minutes, they are the core group, and we’ll rotate defense with William Smith and Andrew Fournier, both juniors, and sophomore Krishna Datta.
“We have a host of juniors, including Spencer Schofield. One important aspect of this team is that they play as a unit. There is no one guy that everyone is looking at to get it done. They get the team success idea very well,” he said, adding, “We’re looking to get our first EAC title and a trip back to the state tournament.”
The Purple started off the new season in a big way. Tony Canha scored with 18 seconds left as M.V. stunned Bishop Feehan 8-7 Tuesday afternoon. The Vineyarders travel to Nantucket for a rivalry game Saturday.
“Yeah, we’re going after it right off the bat,” he said. “Two tough games. But I’ve been coaching for 20 years and some of the coaches for 40 years and at the end of week one of practice, we were all excited by what these kids were doing.”
Coach Betsy Dripps begins her 20th season as varsity coach with a wealth of experienced, talented players returning. Senior co-captains Isabel Smith and Charlotte McCarron will lead this year’s squad. The Vineyarders should also get strong leadership and performance from seniors Alex Clark, Mary Ollen, Emma Yuen, Hartley Sierputoski, Keilla Geddis, and Zoe Listro. Juniors Emily DeBettencourt, Olivia Ogden, and Lucy Hackney give M.V. a strong midfield, while juniors Aubrey Ashmun and Katrina Lakis provide added depth and talent. Also back on the varsity after a solid freshman year are sophomores Lee Hayman, K.C. Wallace, and goalie Samantha Hargy. Moving up from the junior varsity are talented sophomores Molly Houghton, Shannon Morris, Sara Poggi, Belle Dinning, and Emma Caron.
In an email to The Times, Coach Dripps said she is excited about her team chemistry. “We have a fun, talented, dedicated group of girls who all love playing lacrosse together. We should do well despite a tough schedule.”
M.V. opened the season Tuesday with a 16-8 loss to EAC rivals Bishop Feehan. The Vineyarders will also be challenged by the likes of league foe Bishop Stang, along with Marblehead and Scituate. Coach Dripps said the goal is to qualify for the state tournament.
The jayvee girls are also promising with Laurie Gordon back for a second season as coach. Emily Walkenstein, a recent graduate of Lafayette University, will be an assistant coach.
Spring vacation should be particularly memorable for the Vineyarders. A team of varsity and jayvee players will travel to England to play five international games. The five teams are hosting the Vineyard players at their respective schools. In turn, Vineyard players will host the English players during their U.S. tour next year. “We are all excited about our fantastic trip combining lots of sightseeing and lacrosse into a once in a lifetime experience. Our girls will be great ambassadors abroad,” Coach Dripps said.
The Vineyarders host Bridgewater Friday at 3 pm and Nantucket Saturday at 1 pm. The jayvees host Bridgewater Friday immediately following the varsity game.
The Vineyarders bring back a boatload of talent from last season’s team, which was ranked seventh in New England among public schools and 15th overall. The team is loaded with juniors, including Raz Sayre, Zana van Rooyen, Charlie Morano, Ellie Reagan, Anna Flaherty, Eli Hanschka, Russell Shapiro, and Maddy Moore. Sophomore Adam Bilodeau is an up and comer with improving skills at skipper. Senior Shane Metters is a new addition.
The Vineyarders will sail against a record 26 teams this season. Tabor Academy, St. George’s School (Newport, Rhode Island), North Kingstown, R.I., and Hingham are among the highly regarded opponents.
Coach Andrew Burr has lofty goals this season. “There’s no reason that this team can’t beat anyone. If all goes well, we should qualify for the Mark Trophy (New England top eight) for the first time,” he said. The Vineyarders also hope to reach the fleet racing O’Day finals for the first time in six years. The O’Day qualifiers are April 26 at Tabor Academy in Marion. The finals will be April 27 at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
The Vineyard sailors already have three results in the book, a disappointing 3-0 loss to Cape Cod Academy and a 3-1 win over Brookline, both last Saturday, along with a 3-0 win at Dennis-Yarmouth on Tuesday.