With last year’s champions out of the 2005 high school tennis picture, look for the players who came close in ’04 to move up, says Bitburg coach Pete Vadney.

Or, he advises, to a freshman from — where else? — the International School of Brussels.

The ISB Raiders, who won both doubles titles last year and advanced singles players to the boys final and girls semis, unveiled freshman Georges Dufournies in an exhibition last Saturday against Vadney’s John Pendergrass, who finished fifth in Europe last year.

Dufournies won 6-1, 7-5.

“Both players belong in the championship picture,” Vadney said after his first look at ISB’s latest prodigy.

ISB senior Paula Glover, half of the defending European girls doubles champs, also impressed in her match against Bitburg junior Jennica Botonis, a transfer from Virginia.

“She can hit the ball through a wall,” Vadney said of Glover. But he was also impressed by Botonis, who, unintimidated by Glover, won the first set 6-4 before falling 4-6, 4-6.

Glover’s championship doubles partner, Izumi Takeuchi, also returns this season. The two form half of coach Guy Santagati’s female roster. The light turnout is the only rough patch in sight for the usual ISB juggernaut, a collection of freshmen and sophomores this season.

“I don’t know why we have only four girls,” Santagati said Tuesday. “They might be playing volleyball. They had tryouts a few days before us.”

Other players looking to move up include Lakenheath’s Kallie Hedberg, a doubles bronze medalist in 2004. This season she will team up with Kay Lichtenberg for a run at the title, according to Lancers’ coach Darryl Brock.

Brock, who lost Jackie Esguerra, runner-up in singles in 2004, to transfer, said he also returns Phil Burroughs, a doubles semifinalist, and little else.

“There’s no new blood,” said Brock, who added that he despairs of developing new players because of budget restrictions.

“I can’t take a full team on the road,” he said. “We have to piggyback with the volleyball team and there are limited seats. Our JVs will only get to play two matches. Ordinarily, they play six.”

Joining Glover and Botonis among the girls singles contenders are Heidelberg’s Molly King, seeded fourth at last season’s Europeans, and doubles finalist Paulina Ryan. Last year’s winner, Flavia Cirrincione of Marymount, has graduated.

Heidelberg also fields a major boys singles contender in 2004 semifinalist Michael Sanchez, a senior.

Another 2004 semifinalist, Adam Beveridge of Ankara, also returns. He was the the Mediterranean champion in 2003. They will be looking to replace Devin Hayes of Hanau, who won the 2004 title as a senior.

The European championships will be played at Tennis Centrum Vitus in the Wiesbaden suburb of Nordenstadt on Oct. 27-29.

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