First-year Summerville tennis coach David Long is counting on a big year for the Green Wave with the addition of former Pinewood Prep All-Lowcountry star Adam Elliget to go with four returning starters, while defending SCISA Class AAA state champion Porter-Gaud is in partial rebuild mode in the absence of two-time boys tennis Lowcountry player of the year Thomas Spratt.
Elsewhere, Wando may be ready to bounce back in Winde Ellenberg's eighth season as head coach and challenge for something more than a ninth straight Region 7-AAAA title. Bishop England's biggest problem once again likely will be trying to escape the shadows of Waccamaw in Lower State Class AA. And former All-Lowcountry Austin Heinz has returned from Nick Bollettieri's Florida tennis academy to give Palmetto Christian Academy a lift in the Eagles' last year in SCISA Class AA.
Wave aims high
In the High School League where matches consist of only five singles and two doubles, Elliget should make a huge difference for Summerville in Region 8-AAAA. Elliget's insertion at the top of the lineup enables Long to push his veteran returnees down the line, while Elliget steps up as a heavy favorite to win Nos. 1 singles and doubles.
Senior Adam Seith will drop back from No. 1 to No. 2 in the lineup, while year-around tournament sophomore Walker Long (the coach's son) will fall from No. 2 to No. 3. Senior returnees Brandon Sekula and Austin Wiseman should round out the singles lineup.
"Our ultimate goal is to win the state championship," said Long, who helped out with the team a year ago. "We hope to win the region and make a deep run in the playoffs. We have high expectations."
Barth P-G coach
Jonathan Barth has giant shoes to fill at Porter-Gaud in his first year as head coach, replacing Tom Higgins who won seven state titles in his 11 years at the Albemarle Point school.
"I would think we'll be a contender . . . with (2013 runner-up) Hilton Head Prep and Hilton Head Christian. Hilton Head Prep is always loaded, and Christian has (Clemson signee) Hampton Drake," Barth said. "We're a little younger than we have been, but our depth is helped out by the SCISA format (six singles and three doubles)."
All-Lowcountry returnees Seth Pinosky and Brant Fenno are expected to help ease the loss of Spratt, who is now playing tennis for the University of Pennsylvania. Pinosky played No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles with Spratt last year as a junior. Fenno is a highly regarded eighth-grader.
Ellenberg is expecting exciting things from newcomer Jacob Jahn, the fifth-ranked boys 14 player in the state in 2013, as well as the Warriors' depth. "We are super solid," Ellenberg said.
Jahn may push returning No. 1 Andrew DaCosta down to No. 2 for his junior year. The Warriors also have junior newcomer Austin Ciuffo, a tournament player who has moved in from Charlotte; junior Carter Weston, who sat out last year; sophomore Woods Browder, who missed last season with an ankle injury; and freshman Covington McMillan, who played No. 3 for the Warriors last season.
"If everything goes well, it could be our year," Ellenberg said.
BE strong again
As usual, Bishop England is expected to rule SCHSL Class AA locally. Coach Kristin Fleming's main aim has to be for the Bishops to avoid ending their season for the 12th straight year in the Lower State playoffs against Waccamaw.
"We've got a strong team . . more depth," second-year head coach Fleming said.
All-Lowcountry players Lukas Zalesky and Noah Stiepel are back as seniors, along with improved junior Jeff Jones. The Bishops also have a strong newcomer in junior Daniel Knott, a transfer from the Virgin Islands.
PCA gets boost
Coach Dewey Caulder is hoping Heinz will impact Palmetto Christian's state championship hopes. Heinz was the star for the Eagles in 2012 when they played in Class A and won their sixth state title in seven years. Without Heinz last season, the Eagles finished as Class AA state runner-up.
Caulder also is high on sixth-grader Luke Pendergast, who was ranked No. 5 in the state for 2013 in boys 12.
Junior returnees Chris DeMarco and Trey Goolsby will be near the top of the lineup.
The Eagles will move up to Class AAA next season.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.