LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Coach Bobby Smith will be looking to replace key players on both the boys’ and girls’ tennis teams this season, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is bare.
“We lost two of our top three players in Caroline Moore and Kendra Smallwood,” Smith said of the girls. “Caroline is the only girls player in North Laurel tennis history to play in three state tournaments for us and Kendra turned herself into a very reliable player for us. So losing those two will hurt us.”
But the Lady Jags do return several players who saw action last year, including senior Pooja Kanthawar.
“We do return Pooja Kanthawar, who will be striving to make her third state tournament for us this year as a senior,” Smith said. “This is her seventh year on the team, and I expect her to be one of the top players in the region. Brynna Ryle returns as well, and she’s been a solid player for us as well. Makara Prichard returns as well, but then we don’t have much experience after those top three. Casey Stenger will return and have the inside track at the No. 4 position, but everybody else is a newcomer. Those girls vying for playing time include Lindsey Bahia, Hiba Khan, Ifrah Hammad, Kaylee Foley, and Elizabeth Budderberg.
On the boys’ side, the Jaguar lost Spencer Bolton and Justin Maggard, but do return Arjun Kanthawar, who made a trip to the state tournament last season.
“On the boys, we’ll miss Spencer Bolton and Justin Maggard out of our top six,” Smith said. “Spencer turned into a quality player for us and went to state two years, and Justin really strengthened the bottom of the lineup for us and usually picked up wins at his position. We return our top player in Arjun Kanthawar, who made it to state last year. He’s a little bigger and stronger this year and is just an eighth-grader.”
Also back is Sammy Maggard, and Smith expects him to be a top doubles player at region this year.
“Dakota Boggs and Hasan Salim are two good boys to have in the middle of the lineup,” Smith said. “And Gavin Gray and Ryan Jones have really worked hard in the offseason, and they should be a good doubles team for us. I like our depth having Ian Boggs and Hunter Higgins to push the others for playing time. Then we have two newcomers in Usman Salim and Cade Holcomb. If we continue to progress, I see another good season out of the boys.”