The preseason weapon was shovels -- to scrape away the drifts of snow on the tennis courts from the Blizzard of '93.
But now, Baltimore County and City coaches and players are ready to put down the shovels and squeegies and pick up their rackets for this year's tennis season.
Pikesville, which has won the county championship 25 out of the team's 27 seasons, once again will be a force in the county.
The Panthers' top returnees are junior Ryan Cole at No. 1 boys singles and senior county singles champion Payton Goldman among the girls. Freshman Kelley Margolis, who competed in the North American Maccabi Youth Games last summer, will play at the No. 1 singles spot.
But this year, the area's talent stretches beyond the boundaries of the Panthers' courts off of Labyrinth Road.
Perry Hall, which has compiled a 24-0 record the past two seasons, returns with deep boys and girls squads.
The Gators return with seniors Jason Olenick, Scott Lortz and Matt Banks in the top three boys and Jen Godwin and Staci Getz leading the girls. Lortz and Godwin played mixed doubles in the postseason and went to the state tournament finals last year.
Franklin (12-2) only lost four people from last year's team, which finished second behind Perry Hall in the standings. Junior Jason Lantz will take over the No. 1 singles spot and sophomore Joe Park most likely will play at No. 2. Lisa Parsons, who has been undefeated at the No. 1 position for the past two seasons, will return for her final season.
Dulaney (10-2) also could make a strong showing with seniors Jason King and Vanessa Limawararut and sophomore Patrick Delaney and Erica Sugar returning.
In the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference, defending champion McDonogh and Calvert Hall will duel for the conference title this year.
The Eagles (15-1), who have won the A Conference five of the past six years, return with a young but deep team headed by sophomore Scott Ackerman.
Sophomores Andy Robbins, Craig Schulman, Ross Cooperman and Kevin Fishkind all return from last year. McDonogh lost its No. 1 singles player Marcus Eyth, to graduation.
McDonogh plays a challenging schedule with out-of-area opponents Georgetown Prep, Landon and Lawrenceville (N.J.) Prep.
Calvert Hall did not lose any players from last year's 6-4 team and return junior Christopher Jones (7-3) at No. 1 singles.
Gilman, which had been a conference threat behind the efforts of Reed Cordish for the past four years, will look to rebuild this season. With Cordish now playing at Princeton University, junior Randy Michaels will play No. 1 singles. Junior Hugh Coale and sophomore Alex Fine return from last year.
Beth Tfiloh (10-0) will look to defend its B Conference title against Archbishop Curley. The Warriors edged the Friars for the title last year. Senior David Lowenstein, who was undefeated at No. 3 singles last year, will move up in the lineup as will senior Andy Plimack, who played at No. 4 last year.
City, which also played in the B Conference last year, will look to be a force behind David Bryant at No. 1 and Betrand Mc'Kethian at No. 2 singles.
The Knights, whose girls team won the Baltimore City Public School Championship last fall, will not field a girls team this season.
Baltimore City girls teams, which previously played in the fall, will now play in the spring to be eligible for the state championships. City College tennis coach George Sfikas said most of his female players are involved in other spring sports and the change of seasons made it impossible to field a team this spring.
In the C Conference, Lake Clifton looks to repeat as champion. The Lakers have gone 14-0 over the past two seasons but lost two seniors to graduation from last year's team.
Senior Mark Ambrose, who played at No. 3 last year, will move up to the No. 1 spot. Seniors Baron Spearman and Gilbert Redman will add depth to the Lakers' lineup.
Seniors Natasha Martin and Latia Bean will lead the Lake Clifton girls.