2015 champions: Jesse Hollins, Orchard Park, singles; Kristen Zablonski and Lauren Karoglan, Orchard Park, doubles.
What’s new: Sandy Trampert knows how to leave on top. The veteran Orchard Park coach retired this year, exiting after the Quakers won the singles and doubles title in the Section VI finals. But she hardly left the cupboard bare for new coach Stephen Sayoc. Hollins, Zablonski and Karoglan are back to form the foundation for a very good team.
Setting the standard: It’s rare for a Western New York player to make an impact at the state level. There are simply many good players in the New York City area. The last Section VI state champion was Kelly Brown of Kenmore West, back in 1993. In fact, that’s the only one since a state tournament began in 1980.
However, Hollins might be the exception. One opposing coach said the freshman has been working hard, and that her training has been excellent. Therefore, she’s still getting better. Georgianna Gens of Fredonia is back after reaching the Section VI finals last year, and she figures to be better too. Gens will make the Hillbillies a top team in the regular season.
History lesson: Section VI has never had a doubles team win a state title.
Keep an eye on: Victoria VanEvery and Elizabeth Rowan reached the Section VI finals for Southwestern last year. Rowan has graduated.
Shefalika Prasad and Carolyn Wang team up on doubles for Clarence again this year. They lost to the Southwestern pairing last year, but they could move up a notch.
Williamsville North has a good combination in Erin Lippa and Eileen Wang, who reached the state tournament in 2015. Lippa is a senior but Wang is only an eighth-grader.
Scramble: The regular season standings in the Niagara Frontier League were crowded at the top last year, and the guess is it will be the same this time. Lockport figures to be strong, while Lewiston-Porter and Niagara-Wheatfield should be in the mix. North Tonawanda looks like it could move up too.
Moving south: The state tournament was held in Latham (near Albany) last year, but it’s on the move to Long Island for the coming year. It would be ideal to stage the event at Flushing Meadow, where the U.S. Open is held. But logistics and late-October weather have made it tough to make it all work. We’ll see.
Save the dates: Nichols’ Cup, Sept 9; Orchard Park vs. Clarence, Sept. 12 and Sept. 28.
Championship Time: Section VI championships, Oct. 21 & 22 at Miller Tennis Center in Williamsville; state championships, Oct. 29-31 at Sound Shore Indoor Tennis Club in Port Chester (Long Island). The Monsignor Martin girls tennis championships are held in the spring.
Prep Talk Player of the Year: Barring some unexpected development, Hollins is certainly the favorite.