In order for the Staples girls tennis team to maintain its status as one of the top handful of teams in the FCIAC, it will have to overcome significant losses across the board.

At the top of that list is Melissa Beretta, who spent the last four seasons at No. 1 singles and now is at Duke University.

The cupboard isn't complete bare for third-year coach Paco Fabian, however. Staples will be led by four seniors: Avery Wallace, Alex Collins, Gabi Titlebaum and Xenia Bradley. Collins and Titlebaum spent last season playing in singles spots and excelled for the Wreckers.

"These girls have probably played tennis for 8-10 years now," Fabian said. "They play USTA, and they are really strong mentally on the court and they're competitors. They are looking forward to the season and we are looking forward to them to be our leaders. "

Wallace and Tess Rubin, now a sophomore, went 13-1 as doubles partners a year ago to earn All-FCIAC honors. Add in Vanessa Mauricio, who reached the State Open final in the doubles tournament with graduated senior Kelsey Shockey.

Fabian said sophomore Meghan Brown and junior Olivia Daytz will also contribute. Fabian added that four freshman will make the team, too.

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"We lost five starters, so we are going to be down a little bit," Fabian said. "But because we have a lot of new freshman I'm hoping that we improve the most over the course of the year. At the beginning of the year we are going to go through some struggles, we may even lose a match or two that we shouldn't lose but by the end of the year I think we are going improve a lot."

The Wreckers have reached the FCIAC semifinals the past two seasons, and made it to the final four in the Class L tournament. Fabian expects Darien, Ludlowe and Wilton to be the primary contenders for the FCIAC title, and has set the bar at defending the school's Western Division title.

"We want to win the west again, we won that last year for the first time (since 1990)," Fabian said. "Our second match of year is against Greenwich (April 9); they are usually our top competition. We'll find out a lot after that match."

Staples also gets the Blue Wave (April 13) and the Falcons (April 23) early in the season.