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Foxes return nine seniors to tennis court

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Last season, the Fox Chapel boys tennis team finished second in Section 3-AAA and made it to the quarterfinals of the WPIAL tournament.

Coach Dave Prevost has a lot of experience returning after losing only one starter to graduation -- Shankar Rajupet -- which could bode well for the Foxes, who often are in postseason play.

"I think it will be an interesting year," Prevost said. "Call it a rebuilding year. We have a lot of players with experience, but we've also got a lot of young players who will need to contribute."

The Foxes return nine players with starting experience -- seniors Ishan Chatterjee, Ian Cullen and Rohan Meringenti; juniors Ben Short, Karthik Narayanan, Patrick Campbell and Taha Lel-Majbri; and sophomores Dylan McCullough and Josh Lehman.

Cullen played on the team as a sophomore, but was on the track team last year.

"He's been playing really well," Prevost said. "He's a nice addition to the team."

Prevost has plans to move soon a couple of junior varsity players to varsity.

"They'll probably be freshmen (that move up), so that bodes well for the future," the coach said. "Our lineup isn't completely set, yet, but we'll be strong in the middle.

"There's virtually no difference between our No. 3 singles player and our top doubles team. I'll be doing a lot of shifting from match to match.

Prevost said Short and McCullough will be competing for the No. 1 singles slot, but it will be the team's depth and balance throughout the lineup that will determine how far they go this season.

"I'll have more versatility on the team than I've had in the past," he said. "That's nice to have."

While Short and McCullough anchor the top two singles slots, Lehman or McCullough will see time at No. 3. Narayanan, Chatterjee and Cullen will see time at No. 1 doubles, with others filling in at second doubles.

Prevost said Shady Side Academy again should be the team to beat in section play.

"They look to be really strong again. I would have to say that they're the section favorite," he said. "Woodland Hills and Central Catholic were surprisingly tough last year, and they'll be giving us a battle. We're going to have to be on our toes against them. They could wind up being 3-2 matches.

"With our talent, I believe we'll be strong contenders to make the playoffs, but we can't afford to let up against any team in the section, including Gateway and Plum."

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