Fox Valley Conference
Coach: Amanda Schuetzle (11th season)
Top returners: Sam Kedzior, sr.; Noah Marrano, so.; Brandon Burtschi, sr.; Daniel Jauch, sr.; Tommy Fornelli, sr.
Key newcomers: Bryce Shechtman, fr.
Worth noting: The Trojans lost six starters to graduation, including Northwest Herald All-Area selections Nick Belgrave, Justin Schoepke and Brandon Poe. Returning at No. 1 singles is Kedzior, who was named Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention as a junior. Kedzior is a three-year varsity starter and will play soccer at NCAA Division III Illinois Wesleyan. ... Marrano and Burtschi also earned All-Area honorable mention. ... C-G took fourth at the FVC Tournament. Burtschi and Poe took third at No. 2 doubles, Jauch took fourth at No. 3 singles, and Fornelli was second at No. 3 doubles. ... Despite the losses to graduation, Schuetzle has high hopes for those returning and joining the team. ... “Our returners have grown and matured on the court, and I’m looking to see that help them compete with more depth in their games and also leading some of our new, young players,” Schuetzle said. “We have a lot of players who are evenly matched and quick to learn. ... This is a great group of guys that works hard and works together, and I’m looking forward to the season with them.”
Crystal Lake Central
Coach: Cory Osterberg (seventh season)
Top returners: Logan Wasilk, jr.; Ethan Bass, sr.; Ben Weichman, sr.; Brandon Oconer, so.; Lucas Kurkowski, sr.; Connor Wheeland, so.; Oliver True, so.
Key newcomers: Avnish Khandeshi, so.; Danny Vega, jr.; Andrew Stawski, jr.; Parker Tapp, so.
Worth noting: Wasilk was a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection and Class 2A state qualifier, going 0-2, last year after placing fourth at sectionals behind Jacobs’ Kyle McNally and Thomas Nelson and Huntley’s Saarav Desai. Osterberg has seen big improvements in Wasilk’s game since the end of last season. ... Weichman and Bass were All-Area honorable mentions. ... The Tigers have a nice balance on their roster with five seniors, four juniors and five sophomores. ... Central finished seventh at the FVC Tournament, with Weichman and Oconer taking fourth at No. 1 doubles. ... “Fantastic group of guys to be around,” Osterberg said. “Excellent team chemistry, and they just have fun together. I expect Logan Wasilk to continue to take big steps forward. Brandon Oconer, Connor Wheeland, Oliver True and Parker Tapp have put in a lot of work, and it has already shown through the first weeks of practice.”
Crystal Lake South
Coach: Rick Bailey (fourth season)
Top returners: Jackson Schuetzle, sr.; Cal Schneider, sr.; Aaron Koh, jr.; Cam Slonneger, sr.; Jack Dacy, so.; Willem Granzin, jr.; Will Bradstreet, sr.
Key newcomers: Alex Smith, so.; Dan Tetteh, so.; Kai Slonneger, fr.; Zenn Blaszczyk, so.; July Sandria, sr.; Andy Huang, fr.
Worth noting: Schuetzle, a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection last season, will try to play through a stress fracture on his L5 vertebra that shut him down from all tennis activities in November. He had another scan Tuesday, and it revealed no difference in the fracture, although he is medically cleared to play. The talented Gators senior finished second in the No. 1 singles bracket at the FVC Tournament, losing to Jacobs’ Thomas Nelson, was runner-up at sectionals and was 5-1 at the Class 1A state tournament, taking third and becoming the first state medalist for the Gators since 2003. ... South will not have its No. 2 singles player back from last season, Ethen Shock, who chose not to return his senior year. Schock was an All-Area honorable mention last season. .. Early practices have been productive, Bailey said, with many players showing improvement. Schneider, Koh, Cam Slonneger and Dacy have been challenged to step up. ... “The kids are working hard, giving myself and my assistant, Nyssa Fetzner, all they can,” Bailey said. “I am really enjoying working with them all. We will compete.”
Coach: Dylan Clark (third season)
Top returners: Tyler Yu, jr.; Matt Crumlett, jr.; Joseph Causing, jr.; Jimmy O’Hara, sr.
Key newcomers: Caedmon Steuber, so.; Phoenix Phelps, so.; Ryan Regalado, so.; Braden Koffen, fr.
Worth noting: The Whip-Purs have a healthy varsity roster of 12 players and 40 across all levels. ... Hampshire finished sixth at the FVC Tournament last year, and Clark thinks all of his players have the potential to place among the top four this spring. ... Yu, who played at No. 1 doubles last season, will move to No. 1 singles, while Causing and O’Hara will team up at No. 1 doubles. Yu is an impressive ultimate frisbee player and has a high tennis IQ, Clark said. ... Crumlett is returning from a foot injury but will be in the mix for one of the top singles positions when healthy. He was one of the team’s most improved players last year, Clark said. ... “This group of young men have outstanding character,” Clark said. “The team vibes well, and the players pride themselves on being great sports. We are young overall, which makes this year a challenge, but I think that challenge will make us grow very rapidly.”
Coach: Barry Wells (16th season)
Top returners: Matthew Grubbs, sr.; Aryaan Khalil, sr.; Varun Parath, sr.; Ben Hein, jr.; Jonathon Stec, jr.
Key newcomers: Ishaan Trivedi, so.; Jack Coleman, jr.; Colin Stanley, jr.; Zander Mayle, jr.; Frankie Scarpelli, jr.; Ani Mehra, sr.
Worth noting: The Red Raiders tied Jacobs for the FVC Tournament title. Huntley made it to six of seven finals, winning the championship at No. 3 doubles and finishing runner-up at Nos. 2 and 3 singles and Nos. 1, 2 and 4 doubles. ... Huntley graduated 11, but Wells hopes it is still among the deepest teams in the FVC. ... Grubbs and Hein could switch off between doubles and singles this year, depending on matchups, Wells said. They both played doubles last season, but not in the same pairing. Both earned Northwest Herald All-Area second-team honors. Grubbs also made it to the Class 2A state tournament at doubles and was 1-2. ... Huntley graduated its No. 1 singles (Saarav Desai) and No. 1 doubles team (Thomas Patel and Andrew Burkey), along with All-Area selections Stan Kurtek and Daniru Dharmaratne. ... At the FVC Tournament, Grubbs finished second at No. 2 singles, Hein was part of the runner-up finish at No. 2 doubles, Stec was part of the championship win at No. 3 doubles, and Khalil and Parath were second at No. 4 doubles. “We graduated a large group of talented seniors last year, but we return many quality starters, Wells said. “We had a strong JV team last year, and I am hopeful that they can step into the varsity spots and be successful there.”
Coach: Jon Betts (eighth season)
Top returners: Thomas Nelson, sr.; Justin Cunningham, sr.; Jed Sia, sr.; Justin Brzeski, sr.; Kyle McNally, jr.
Key newcomers: Sam Knuerr, sr.; Colin Van, jr.; Adrian Salgado, jr.; Austin Dinh, so.; August Nelson, fr., Ryan Fulton, fr.
Worth noting: The Golden Eagles, last year’s co-FVC and sectional champions, enter the season with big goals, led by standouts Nelson, a Marquette commit, and McNally. The Jacobs pair finished fifth and sixth, respectively, at the Class 2A state tournament, with Nelson beating McNally, 6-4, 6-1 in the fifth-place match. McNally had the upper hand at sectionals, beating Nelson, 6-3, 6-0, for the championship. ... Nelson was the 2021 Northwest Herald Boys Tennis Player of the Year, going 42-7. He won the FVC No. 1 singles title with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Crystal Lake South’s Schuetzle. ... After missing his freshman year because of the pandemic, McNally, a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection, finished with the most wins in the state, going 49-4. He won the No. 2 singles title at the FVC Tournament, 6-0, 6-0, and was 6-2 at state. ... Cunningham, an All-Area first-team pick, teamed with 2021 grad John Kaiser to win the No. 1 doubles title and a sectional title. The duo finished 2-2 at state. ... Sia and Brzeski also were state qualifiers, going 2-2, and were All-Area second-team choices. Sia was on the No. 2 doubles championship team at the FVC Tournament. ... As a team, Jacobs tied for fourth at state, its best finish in program history. ... “Thomas and Kyle are on everyone’s radar after what they did last spring, but I think teams are going to be blown away by how much Justin Cunningham and Jed Sia have improved over the offseason,” Betts said. “They’ve each made a huge jump and are ready to take that next step against the state’s best. ... With the work our players have put in this offseason, our goal is to challenge the top programs in the state and hopefully break into the top three.”
Coach: Kyle Funkhouser (16th season)
Top returners: Lukas Thomas, sr.; Gordon Wechselberger, sr.; Chris Schoder, sr.; Dustin Thielsen, sr.; Jeff Lin, sr.; Nolan Carlson, sr.; Jack Waters, sr.; Cole Bone, sr.; Nathan Neufeld, so.; Finn Hammerl, so.
Key newcomers: Mohsin Rizvi, fr.
Worth noting: The Warriors enter the season with 11 seniors on their roster, including the team’s top returner, Thomas, but there will be competition among the top positions, Funkhouser said. ... McHenry finished eighth at the FVC Tournament, ahead of Burlington Central and Dundee-Crown. ... “I’m excited to see some young talent come in and compete with our seniors for some of the top spots,” Funkhouser said.
Coach: Willy Stastny (third season)
Top returners: Brad Haisler, sr.; Nick Haisler, sr.; Nolan Frey, jr.
Key newcomers: Jacob Kim, fr.; Cole Palese, fr.
Worth noting: Brad Haisler and Nick Haisler earned Northwest Herald All-Area second-team honors as juniors. They advanced to the Class 1A state tournament after a fourth-place finish at sectionals and went 0-2. ... Prairie Ridge won a sectional title, five points ahead of Rockford Christian. Nate Kim and Sam Kim finished first at doubles, and Saif Karim was third at singles, but all three have since graduated.. ... The Wolves were third at the FVC Tournament. The Haislers placed fourth at No. 2 doubles, and Frey, an All-Area honorable mention, last season, was third at No. 2 singles. ... “We are a young team with a lot of potential, so I am excited to see how the players develop throughout the season,” Stastny said. “We have a few talented and hardworking freshmen, so they might work their way up to the top of the lineup by the end of the year.”
Kishwaukee River Conference
Coach: Erika Kane (first season)
Top returners: Leo Bankel, so.; Wyatt Lundgren, so.; David Paulauski, so.
Key newcomers: Lawson Schmidt, fr.; Colin Heinz, fr.
Worth noting: The Indians graduated three and only have five players listed on their roster to start the season, all underclassmen. ... Kane said Bankel, Marengo’s No. 1 singles player, has put in a lot of time and work to improve since the end of his freshman year. ... “We’re excited to continue to grow and build,” Kane said. “We’re a small team and will need to grow and gain experience.”
Coach: Jake Porter (fifth season)
Top returners: Matt Keyzer, sr.; Jake Murray, sr.; Hunter Lisowski, sr.; Vince Perez, jr.; Jackson Pajich, jr.; Devon Oliveira, so.; Liam Hanson, so.; Cooper Pajich, so.
Key newcomers: Brett Neuhart, fr.; Carlos Fito, fr.; Daniel Peralta, so.
Worth noting: The Blue Streaks captured the KRC Tournament championship last year by a point over Woodstock North, taking first or second in six of seven matches. ... Brad Arnold and Riley Ellegood, both 2021 graduates, earned Northwest Herald All-Area first-team honors at doubles after winning a Class 1A sectional title, the program’s first sectional title since 1986. They finished 1-2 at state. ... Perez took runner-up at No. 3 singles at the KRC Meet, Keyzer was third at No. 1 doubles, Murray was first at No. 2 doubles, Hanson was second at No. 3 doubles, and Jackson Pajich and Cooper Pajich were second at No. 4 doubles. ... Hanson and Oliveira could team up at No. 1 doubles, while Perez and Neuhart will push each other at singles, Porter said. ... “Players will have to earn their seeding on a weekly basis, but competition will only strengthen our team,” Porter said. “I am most excited about having eight freshmen and a talented sophomore [class] come out for the team this year. It will be great to watch them develop their skills and grow together over the next three to four years.”
Coach: Bart Zadlo (fourth season)
Top returners: Jason Burg, sr.; Marco Sotelo, sr.; Cole Lanci, sr.; Noah Kurchina, sr.; Erik Hermansson, sr.; Erik Sarabia, sr.
Key newcomers: Marko Ortiz, sr.; Tyler Schroeder, jr.; Kyle Morey, jr.; Seth Turnball, jr.
Worth noting: The Thunder have the biggest team in the KRC with 24 players on their varsity roster, all upperclassmen, including 11 seniors. ... North finished runner-up to Woodstock for the KRC title for the second season in a row, losing by a point at the conference meet. They lost to the Streaks by two points in the previous season in 2019 (no 2020 season because of the pandemic]. ... Burg and Lanci were named Northwest Herald All-Area honorable mention as juniors. Burg had a big offseason and has shown plenty of improvement since the end of his junior year, Zadlo said. Burg and Sotelo will compete at the top singles positions. Hermansson and Sarabia will team up at doubles. ... “I expect [Burg and Sotelo] to pace our team and give us consistent performance on a day-to-day basis,” Zadlo said. “Our lineup will have several guys switching positions and moving from JV to varsity to fill spots left by our graduating class. It is still too early for us to tell who will be playing which spot, but we are getting better and coming together on a daily basis.”
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Coach: Kevin Lydon (third season)
Top returners: Billy Collins, sr.; Matt Garrelts, sr.; Patrick Kumm, sr.; Robert Eschenbacher, jr.; Terry Blades, jr.
Key newcomers: Michael Jablonski, jr.; Ethan Tom, jr.
Worth noting: Collins and Eschenbacher will battle for the No. 1 singles spot, while Garrelts and Kumm will begin the year at No. 1 doubles. Either could move to singles, as both have “improved tremendously” since the end of last year, Lydon said. ... The Hurricanes took eighth at the ESCC Tournament last year. ... “Billy is a year-round tennis player and has great consistency,” Lydon said. “Everyone sees that and looks up to him and his style. As the season progresses, you will see our team’s power increase exponentially as we have the potential to develop into hard hitters with quickness and court smarts.”