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FL boys tennis preview: Stewart eager to make impact on courts in 2014

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LOWVILLE — After missing last season due to a broken thumb caused by a sledding accident, Collin Stewart is itching to get back on the tennis court.

The Lowville senior was frustrated he couldn’t see action last season.

“I was really disappointed,” said Stewart, who also competes on the soccer and swimming teams. “I didn’t expect them (the doctors) to put me in a cast, and they put me in it for five weeks.”

Stewart tried to return in late April of last season, but had trouble holding a racket due to pain in his thumb joint.

Lowville coach Jim Rhodes said that Stewart’s injury forced the lineup to be shifted and filled with inexperienced players.

“In tennis when you miss one person like your first or second singles player, everyone else has to move up,” said Rhodes, who is in his sixth season coaching boys tennis.

After being unable to compete in 2013, Stewart is trying to get back in the groove of swinging a racket. He said there is some lingering pain in his thumb.

“The first day when I came in and started hitting, I had an aching pain in the joint where I broke my thumb,” Stewart said. “It was a different feeling.”

Rhodes is also counting on a little bit of a transition, but thinks Stewart can overcome it.

“I’m sure he’ll have a little bit, but he’s a good athlete and gets the ball back,” Rhodes said.

One thing that may aid Stewart is that the Frontier League season has not started due to the severe winter weather. Most courts were still covered with snow earlier in the week.

Carthage coach Rich Lajoie said the Comets’ home courts were “60 percent” covered in snow. Rhodes said the delayed start to the season will affect everyone.

“I think everybody will be in the same boat,” Rhodes said. “It’s more with stopping the boredom of indoor practice.”

According to Rhodes, Stewart will be in the mix for a first singles spot along with fellow senior Colin Farquhar. Rhodes said Stewart has improved many areas of his game over his career.

“He’s worked on his serve and gotten more consistent with that,” Rhodes said. “Everything about his game is more consistent.”

Stewart said that he’s also worked on improving his backhand in recent seasons, and that Rhodes has made the team better by giving individual focus to each team member.

“We have one person out at a time,” Stewart said. “He focuses on our swing and what we can do to change everything.”

The Red Raiders are looking to contend for a league title as they have five seniors including the experienced Stewart, Farquhar, Dan Austin and Nate Munger.

The group has put in plenty of practice time over the summer, and Stewart said the team has lofty expectations.

“Definitely high goals for the team with five seniors, Stewart said. “We’ve got high hopes.”

FRONTIER LEAGUE

Outlook: Defending league champion Watertown lost nine seniors, including first singles champion David Zabriskie, first doubles champions Shayne Watson and Jeremy Reff, and second doubles member Christopher Patterson. Alexandria will have five girls on its roster because there weren’t enough girls to complete a roster for the fall girls tennis season. The Purple Ghosts return first singles player Ryan Charlebois and third singles player Parker Garlock. The second doubles team of Kyle Gionet and Zakariya Imdad are also back. Carthage is looking for big things from Sam Kim, Jacob Zehr and Patrick Farley. The Comets graduated third singles champion Devin Myers. Indian River lost five starters to graduation, but returns Erick Torres, who finished second in first singles at the Frontier League tournament. Lowville has experienced seniors in Colin Farquhar, Collin Stewart and Dan Austin. The Red Raiders hope to improve over last season’s 3-7 mark. IHC brings back Justin Frechette and An Le. The Cavaliers experience will look to rise above last season’s third-place finish.



Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Terry Satterley (25th season, 14th coaching boys).

2013 record: (7-2 league and overall)

Roster: Nicole Pierce (Sr.), Samantha Schnell (Sr.), Ryan Charlebois (Jr.), Emily Cullen (Jr.), Ben Nelson (Jr.), Garrett Bass (So.), Matt Bass (So.), Madison Cullen (So.), Parker Garlock (So.), Zakariya Imdad (So.), Emma Kearns (So.), Cole Rorick (So.), Kyle Gionet (8th).



Carthage Comets

Coach: Rich Lajoie (3rd season)

2013 record: (0-9)

Roster: Sam Kim (Sr.), Kevin Madison (Sr.), Jacob Zehr (Sr.), Corey Dockery (Jr.), Kyle Hall (Jr.), Joel Rogers (Jr.), Patrick Farley (So.), Tom Reynolds (So.)



IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Rick Snow (8th season, 5th coaching boys)

2013 record: (4-6)

Roster: Carter Deeney (Sr.), Justin Frechette (Sr.), An Le (Sr.), Cody St. Onge (Sr.), Boyan Lui (Jr.), Luis Janer (So.), Manuel Vazques (So.), Daniel Snow (8th).



Indian River Warriors

Coach: Patricia Gorman (10th season, 6th coaching boys)

2013 record: (6-4)

Roster: Eliuco Neto (Sr.), Daverick Wagstaff (Sr.), Van Cao (Jr.), Patrick Morris (Jr.), Erick Torres (Jr.), Antonio Bell (So.), Jeffery Bell (So.).



Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Jim Rhodes (19th season, 6th season coaching boys)

2013 record: (3-7)

Roster: Dan Austin (Sr.), Colin Farquhar (Sr.), Nathan Munger (Sr.), Ryan Rubenzahl (Sr.), Collin Stewart (Sr.), Lee Buckingham (So.), Nathan DuVall (So.), Jarett Rhodes (So.).



Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Brian Morrison (18th season, 10th coaching boys)

2013 record: (9-0)

Roster: Austin Bentley (Jr.), Eric Gibbs (Jr.), Cedar Chambers (So.), Griffen Elliott (So.), Joshua Elmer (So.), John Hoefler (So.), Mandi Petros (So.), Jude Renzi (So.), Keven Sanchez (So.), Andrew Saunders (So.), Cyrus Warren (So.), Jullian Warren (So.), MaClean Crossley (Fr.), David Garry (8th), David Saunders (8th).

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