If Westminster's convincing sweep of South Carroll on Friday is any indication of what's to come in county tennis, it could well be a banner season for the Owls.
Both Westminster teams bring back the top singles players in the county, seniors Mandy Koenig and Marco Fuggitti.
Despite losing five players to graduation from last year's 14-1 team, Ken Shook's girls team appears to have enough talent and experience to defend its county crown.
"After a super team last year and losing five of its eight starters, the first response would be it's a rebuilding year. But the three returning starters are three very solid players and that's a good start," said Shook.
"We're not a proven team, but I honestly think we have to be among the top teams in the county. We lack some varsity experience and it's the kind of team that should get better and better as the season goes along."
It all starts with Koenig, who won the county singles title as a sophomore and finished runner-up as a junior. She comes into the season with the most experience and talent in the county.
"She's just a super player and a perfect model for the younger players," Shook said. "She's a hard worker with beautiful strokes and never lets down."
Making the switch to singles after a solid season at doubles last year is senior Andrea Stanton.
Senior Laura Shoffner will team with sophomore Kristy Matthai at No. 1 doubles.
Fuggitti, last year's county singles champ, leads an experienced group of Westminster boys looking to wrest the county title away Liberty.
"He's a scrapper and fighter," said boys coach Fran McCullin. "He has a great ability to keep the ball that makes him very difficult to beat. A kid has to play very, very well and sustain it throughout the match to beat him."
The Owls have four other returning seniors to go along with six veteran juniors. Likely to join Fuggitti at singles this season is senior Matt Fisher, who played at No. 1 doubles last season.
The top doubles team is senior Jeff Seaman and junior Steve Hockstra. Playing at No. 2 doubles last season, the duo went 9-4.
Call it a rebuilding year for the Liberty boys, defending county champs at 14-1. The Liberty girls have their top two singles returning from last year's 3-12 campaign.
Midway through last week, Liberty coach Bruce Damasio still was not set on the lineup for either team. The weather during the past month has limited court time for his players.
Gone from last year on the boys squad were the Lions' top two singles players along with the No. 1 doubles team. Seniors Geoff Downes, Mike Szymanski, Chris North and Stephen Speck return, along with junior Mike Knoerlein.
On the girls side, seniors Dawn Wilhelm and Kati Varakin should be a year better after playing at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, last year. Senior Dani Anzalone enters her fourth season at doubles.
"The boys are going to be very young, while the girls should be improved with some good depth," said Damasio.
The North Carroll boys, under 15-year coach John Lynam, likely will give Westminster its toughest test in the county. The Panthers went 9-3 overall in 1992 and have plenty of talent returning.
Junior Craig Eckard enters his second season as the Panthers' No. 1 singles player. He had a successful sophomore season, winning eight matches.
"He's had some experience playing at No. 1 singles and expectations go up this season. We're looking for him to take on a bigger leadership role as well," said Lynam.
Seniors Matt Lovetro and Keith Mayle likely will move up to No. 1 doubles after teaming last season at No. 2.
The North Carroll girls were 6-6 last year under coach Elizabeth Foyle. Gone to graduation are the Panthers' top two singles players and their No. 1 doubles team.
Sophomores Cory Bradford and Laurie Kreseski will make the transition from doubles to singles this year and provide a great future for the Panthers. Senior Mickey Baker will play at No. 1 doubles.
The Francis Scott Key girls have a solid nucleus back from last year's 10-5 team, and the boys are working hard to establish a strong program.
Juniors Paula Koontz and Heather Stinson are the top singles players returning.
Coach Donna Baker has two doubles teams intact from last year with senior Jenny Baker and junior Jen Adler back at No. 1 doubles and Robin Day and Maureen Ritcey at No. 2 doubles after playing third doubles last year.
"We have a lot of healthy competition both at singles and doubles, and I think that will help us as the season goes along," Baker said.
The boys appear to be building a promising foundation under second-year coach John Baugher. He has eight sophomores and four freshmen on the squad.
The lone senior is Shane Shaffer, who returns as the Eagles' No. 1 singles player. Challenging for the No. 1 spot is sophomore Chris Crawmer.
Baugher has four doubles teams who could see time at the varsity level, led by the No. 1 team of sophomores Jeff Mock, a newcomer, and Andrew Dudderar.