CHATHAM, NJ - Each year seems to bring talented newcomers to the Chatham High girls tennis team and the 2015 season advances that trend with the arrival of two freshmen, Seden Agar and Lana DePasquale.
Agar, whose family has moved to Chatham from Australia, slots in as the No. 2 singles player behind junior Scarlett Blydenburgh, who will be playing her third straight season at No. 1 singles.
A year ago, Chatham was ranked No. 9 in the state by NJ.com and advanced to the Group 3 state sectional final before bowing to Millburn.
Chatham coach James Cai guided the Lady Cougars to their second straight Morris County Tournament championship by topping rival Mendham last year.
The prospects look bright again with two strong baseline players like Blydenburgh and Agar leading the way.
"I'm working on improving my athleticism," Blydenburgh said. "My goals are to keep a positive attitude and keep working hard. I like to play on the baseline, but I'm going to look for opportunities to come to the net and attack."
The 15-year-old Blydenburgh has won 31 first-singles matches for Chatham and is coming off a summer of USTA competition in which she reached the quarterfinal round of a sectional tournament. She is ranked No. 164 nationally.
"We have a strong lineup," Blydenburgh said. "Both Seden and Laurel (Hickey) play in USTA tournaments."
Agar originally lived in New Jersey, but moved to Australia, where her mother is from, for six years.
"I want to play professional tennis someday," Agar said. "We came to Chatham for the education."
Agar says she works on her tennis game up to eight hours a day, which includes her fitness training. The 15-year-old is ranked No. 431 nationally.
Junior Laurel Hickey moves up from doubles to play third singles for Chatham. She was a doubles player the last two years.
"I play all year round, so it's not really an adjustment," Hickey said. "As a singles player, it's about controlling the ball in a different way. My goal is to make the individual state tournament."
Changes could be made, but so far freshman DePasquale and sophomore Julia Gallop will be at first doubles. At second doubles, junior Abby Morgan teams up with senior Jennifer McCann.
Chatham's top two singles players: Scarlett Blydenburgh (near court) and Seden Agar warm up for practice