All-Lowcountry tennis performers Joel Roberts and Adam Elliget formed quite a 1-2 punch last year for Pinewood Prep. As a result, the Panthers were one of the top teams in all of SCISA.
But half of the tandem is missing as Pinewood Prep prepares for another season. Elliget has opted for home-schooling. Only a sophomore, Elliget is a two-time All-Lowcountry selection, just like senior Roberts.
The move appears to already be working as Elliget polishes his resume for college tennis. He won the boys 16 crown in a USTA Regional in Mobile, Ala., last weekend.
Defending Class AAA SCISA boys champion Porter-Gaud appears to have its work cut out for it this season. Perennial finalist Hilton Head Prep and 2012 runner-up Hilton Head Christian still have a direct line to the island's nationally prominent tennis academies. The two Hilton Head schools just restock from the Smith/Stearns and van Der Meer academies when their star players advance to college tennis or move back home.
Christian lost No. 1 Nick Bybel to Bucknell, but 2012 teammate Hampton Drake is the No. 1 boys 16 player in the state. Also, Hilton Head Prep senior standout Andrew Schafer already has signed with South Carolina.
But Porter-Gaud has an ace newcomer itself in left-handed seventh-grader Bryant Fenno, who styles his game after Rafa Nadal with huge topspin. Coach Tom Higgins expects Fenno to be in the starting lineup. Fenno has the potential to have an instant impact on the Cyclones' title defense.
Reigning Lowcountry player of the year Thomas Spratt leads the way for the Cyclones, who are missing only Nos. 2 and 3 Junior Duarte and Hunter Mitchell from the lineup that won the 2012 state title.
Navarro, Mendez No. 1
Earl Navarro in boys 12 and Matthew Mendez in boys 18 are the area's only top-ranked players in the final 2012 state rankings.
Also in boys 12, Brant Fenno is ranked third and Sam Kavarana is ninth. In boys 14, Jared Pratt is third and Scotty Cameron is fifth. Alex Santiago is fourth in boys 16, followed by Adam Elliget at No. 5 and Palmetto Christian star Austin Heinz at No. 9. Thomas Spratt is fifth in boys 18, while Joel Roberts is No. 8.
In the girls rankings, Emma Navarro is second in 12-and-under, followed by Lillian Conant at No. 9. Porter-Gaud standout Ann Martin Skelly is fifth in girls 14. In girls 18, area resident Anna Kate Anderson is rated second, while Ashley Hall's Lowcountry player of the year Narni Summerall is fourth, and Catherine Martin is No. 7.
In the small-court 10-and-under rankings, Zachary Dacuba is fifth in boys, followed by No. 6 Stanley Waters and No. 10 Elliott Eischeid. In girls 10, Anna Golding is No. 2, followed by No. 6 Ava Middour and No. 9 Anna Thornton.
Charleston County School District Superintendent Nancy McGinley has been named tennis advocate of the year by Racquet Sports Industry magazine.
Anna Kate Anderson, whose family resides in Wild Dunes while she trains with Wild Dunes tennis director Charly Rasheed and LTP pro Martin Zumpft, has committed to SMU. Online-schooled, she finished 2012 ranked 11th in the South and No. 2 in the state in girls 18.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.