With more than a decade of coaching experience under his belt, Belfast Area High School tennis coach John Cameron knows what he is doing. This spring, he will lead a group of 18 female student-athletes on the court as he has done for 11 years.

The team includes seniors Rosie LaCivita (she will play second singles), Sierra Warner and Alisha Wilson; juniors Kate Howard, Rose Hyland, Krissy Martin, Elizabeth McAvoy and Tetyana Vorobyoya; sophomores Shashanna Mohl (first singles), Makaila Gould (third singles), Geneva Bielenberg, Rachel Lewis, Kalyn Robbins, Avary Lamont, Eve Norberg, and Sarah Miner; and freshmen Ashley Keene and Briahna Loring.

“As you can see there was an excellent turnout for the team, lots of girls want to learn and play,” Cameron said. “So that speaks well of the success of the program in the past and hopefully in the future.”

The coach said his doubles teams will determined, but the singles should be a real strength this season.

The squad opened the campaign with a 4-1 win over Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield April 25.

Last year, the Mohl and LaCivita helped the team finish sixth in Eastern Class B. After compiling a 9-4 record, the Lions were ousted in a quarterfinal playoff match by unbeaten Caribou.

As they return this year, the Lions have a strong shot at a competitive season.

The team lost strong players in third singles player Sierra Ventura and the first doubles team of Renna Smith and Ashton Fancy, but coach Cameron hopes their replacements can fill their shoes.

“Most of this year’s team has some playing experience which is to our advantage only if they continue to grow as players,” he said.

However, the coach also said Gould, who is new to competition, looks like a strong contender.

“She has a very solid approach to the game that should make her very competitive,” he said.

Finding consistent, compatible doubles pairings, on the other hand, will be the team’s greatest challenge. Another challenge will come from the school’s disadvantage of not having local indoor tennis courts to keep the players sharp during the winter.

As in years past, Belfast comes into the campaign behind schools such as Camden Hills, Waterville and Oak Hill of Sabattus, all of which have winter facilities.

Even so, the coach has his goals set. He hopes to see the Lions among the top four and host a first-round playoff match later this year.

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at fritz@villagesoup.com.