Both McDonogh and Pikesville have a few things in common heading into this season.
The perennial tennis powers both lost key performers from last year's championship lineups. But both schools also should have more than enough talent to make up for it.
Depth should enable McDonogh and Pikesville to extend their string of championships in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and Baltimore County, respectively.
McDonogh coach Laddie Levy, last year's Baltimore County Coach of the Year, said before last season that he thought this season would be his team's best.
For McDonogh's in-state foes who lost 54 of 55 individual matches to the Eagles last year as the team finished 11-0 in conference, that prediction won't bring many smiles.
But the Eagles lost a few players that Levy did not expect. Still, they are formidable.
Junior Nick Colvin, the co-County Player of the Year last season, captured the A Conference title at No. 1 singles. The next three McDonogh players -- seniors Ross Cooperman, Andy Robbins and Kevin Fishkind -- all won A Conference titles.
Senior Craig Shulman and freshman David Katz also will help the Eagles, who finished 16-2 last year. The Eagles have won the A Conference championship seven of the last eight years.
"We're going to have to work a little bit harder," said Levy. "But it should be a great year for these seniors who have had a tremendous run. I hope they go out in style."
Pikesville, on the other hand, hopes to continue its long run of success in Baltimore County while using lots of underclassmen. For the girls, sophomore Jamie Margolis should lead the way.
Margolis, co-County Player of the Year last year with her sister Kelley, will play No. 1. Jamie made it to the state's final four last year and could be considered a favorite to take the state title.
Kelley, a junior, will miss the season due to arm and shoulder troubles, but the Panthers have junior Alyssa Levene, freshman Michelle Dardashti and seniors Genni King and Claudia Sotorosa.
For the boys, junior Jason Block should be at the top spot, with seniors Ryan Millman, Steven Grossblatt and Mike Roth plus freshmen David Benaderet and Kevin Franz helping for new coach Adrian Mihaescu.
Franklin, Perry Hall and Dulaney also should do well in the county. At Franklin, coach Warren White's team lost only three from last year.
Senior Joe Park and Kyle Harbaugh are the top boys players with senior Jodi Abelow and freshman Erin Spatafore leading the girls.
At Perry Hall, coach Frank Insinga's boys are a bit stronger than the girls. Senior Brandon Oliver and juniors Bob Kittle and Swaptak Das are the top boys, and seniors Ipsita Das and Angela Razalan and junior Kathleen Bell will help the girls.
Dulaney, which lost to Pikesville in a playoff for the county title last year, also has talent this year. Jeff Smith should be a big plus for coach Pat Heil's Lions.
Gilman will need lots of pluses to top McDonogh in the MIAA A Conference. Coach Jim Busick's team has several good players.
Senior Alex Fine, last year's City Player of the Year, starts at No. 1. But sophomore Parijat Didolkar will challenge him, and sophomore Clayton Apgar might do the same. Senior Alex Wasserman, junior Joey Lee and freshman Agedi Boto should give Busick good matches.
In the MIAA B Conference, Boys' Latin went from 1-8 to 7-3 last year and capped the season by winning two individual titles and one more in doubles for City Coach of the Year Don Rickels.
Five of the top six return, including No. 1 Noah Mumaw, who won the title last year at No. 2 and was part of a championship doubles team.
Except for No. 3 senior Marc Hassan, the rest of the top six Lakers are sophomores. Kip Edwards (No. 2, transfer from Calvert Hall), Todd Cohen, Michael Riley and Andrew Scott give the team a strong lineup for now -- and down the line.
Friends also should push Boys' Latin in the B Conference. Archbishop Curley also could do well.
The city public schools will play only coed team matches this year, and defending champion (both boys and girls) Poly should find itself battling Lake Clifton and Patterson.
The Engineers bring back their top three boys and girls for first-year coach Preston Jackson.
Senior Javier Elola, junior Joseph Edmonds and senior Kim Tran are 1-2-3. Last year, the order was Tran, Elola and Edmonds. For the girls, senior Sue Huang, junior Leila Green and sophomore Patricia Elola will keep the same order.
Lake Clifton, which lost City-Wide champion Anthony McMillon (transfer), has three good players back. Seniors Jarmar Bailey and Lloyd Cox and junior Elson Hendricks will help coach Emory Barnes.
Ayana Thompson, a sophomore who fell in the City-Wide finals last year, will be No. 1 for the girls. Junior Laquisha Harvey should be No. 2, and sophomore Tia Church leads an early battle for the No. 3 spot.
Patterson brings several players back for coach Jon Jacobson. Sophomore Jeremy Wishon and seniors Jozef Zajackowski and John Blowers are going to help as will senior Beth Sulski and sophomores Teagan Tandon and Nicole Bauer.