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New and familiar faces taking the court for Eagle girls

LEE GUERRINGUE will once again be at the top of the Eagle tennis girls’ lineup. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
April 05, 2010
NORTH CONWAY — In his 28 years as head coach of the Kennett girls' tennis team, Jon Judge doesn't remember his team ever getting outside much before the first match of the season.

That's all changed this year, as the Eagle girls have been out on the courts for a while as they approach their first match of the season, which is set for today, April 8, against Bishop Brady.

"That's a nice change," Judge said of the conditions. "No shoveling, you've got to like it."

Before the new Kennett High School was built, the team played at Fox Ridge Resort and part of their court was well-shaded, meaning the snow and ice lasted for quite a while, which kept the girls off the courts until mid-April in many cases.

"We've had a couple of good practices and a scrimmage at Laconia on Friday," Judge said. "We haven't been able to do that in the past."

While the weather has been cooperative, a few other factors have played into a tough start for the team, as illness and injuries, and more than one player being away from the team for a period of time, have all played a part in the preseason.

"We're sort of battling a couple of things," Judge said.

The top three players in the Eagle lineup are all returning to the court with significant varsity time under their belts.

Senior Lee Guerringue will once again be the top player in the Kennett lineup, a spot she held down last year as well.

Sophomore Casey Blakely will move up the lineup and slide into the second spot after a solid freshman campaign a year ago.

Senior Heather Canavari will play in the third spot, bringing a few years of varsity experience to the court.

The remainder of the lineup has experience at the JV level, while a few have also played some matches at the varsity level over the last few years.

Senior Sara Hopkins will likely begin the season with the number four spot in hand, though she has been battling illness in the preseason.

Fellow senior Nicole Schiller is making a strong bid for the fifth spot in the lineup and had a solid outing at the Laconia scrimmage to help solidify her standing.

Maddie Plausche, Heather Purnell, Brittany Day and Jamie McDonough are all in the mix for the sixth and final spot in the singles lineup.

"We have the people, we just have to see where they are going to play," Judge said.

Amanda Hayford was likely going to begin the season in one of the final two spots in the lineup, but she will miss the entire season due to injury, but will remain on the team.

Judge and JV coach Bob Kimnack recently split the two teams up so practices are a bit easier to manage and the coaches can see where everyone stands in the lineups.

"Now we can really get a pretty good look," Judge said.

The veteran coach is hoping that the early season battles with the elements that have always been an issue in past seasons will not be the case this year as the Eagles have been outside and are ready for what Mother Nature has in store.

"The elements won't be quite a factor our first time out," the Eagle coach said. "We're getting used to it and maybe we'll use it to our advantage."

Additionally, the Eagle mentor is pleased with what his team has shown to date.

"The attitude is certainly there, I don't think they're particularly fearful of Brady and Brady's a good team," Judge noted. "It will be a good test for us. Something to judge where we are."

The Eagles will open today, April 8, at 4:15 p.m. against Bishop Brady. On Monday, April 12, they will head to Plymouth for a 4:15 p.m. match and Wednesday, April 14, the Eagles host Oyster River at 4:15 p.m.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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