The Georges Valley High School boys tennis team enjoyed a trip to the postseason last year and proved to be one of the more talented squads in the Mountain Valley Conference.

This season, minus the conference’s top player and a shift in the scheduling may make qualifying for the regional playoffs for the second straight year a much more daunting task.

Led by veteran coach Sam Pendleton, the Buccaneers have a nucleus of young players, many of whom are new to the game, and he hopes they can take the necessary steps to be competitive this season in the MVC.

The 2010 Buc tennis team consists of seniors Ketch Cowan, Derek Sanborn, Neil Young, Alex Grierson and Logan Cross; junior Cy McGeady; sophomores Gordon Armstrong, Wesley Bryant, Luke Rector, Charlie Baker and Daniel Ackerman; and freshman Tyler Gilson.

Last season, Georges Valley finished with a 5-7 record, which earned it the No. 5 seed in the Western Class C playoffs. The Bucs pulled the upset of No. 4 Wiscasset 4-1, while top-seeded and eventual state champion Waynflete of Portland upended the Bucs 5-0 in the semifinal round.

Lost to graduation last season were Jonas Edwards-Jenks, Ryan Ludwig, Jamie Baker and Mountain Valley Conference player of the year Ryan Hanc.

Hanc posted a 12-2 record last season, and will be sorely missed for the Bucs, who now must replace their first and third singles players and first doubles team.

“His improvement was pretty incredible from his junior to senior year,” said Pendleton of Hanc. “His junior year he played well, but [I] never would have expected him to become the top player in the conference.”

Pendleton hopes Cowan will make a similar jump this year as a senior, as he added “This game is designed for Ketch’s physical and mental makeup.”

“Ketch was incredible last year, ” he said. “He lost his first two matches and he didn’t lose again until we played against Waynflete in the semifinals. He will have a very good season.”

Pendleton added that Baker and Armstrong are both looking strong in the early going and figure to be in the mix this season, but feels they are probably another year or so away from realizing their full potential.

In a nutshell, many of the players on the Bucs are much on an even keel with one another, making practices competitive and Pendleton’s decision on who will take the court day in and day out difficult.

“It may change throughout the season,” said Pendleton of the lineup. “There are three or four guys that we might rotate in and out that are vying for that position.”

With the new alignment of a North Division and South Division in the Mountain Valley Conference, the Bucs were dealt the brunt of a difficult schedule, including two matches apiece from Boothbay Region, Winthrop, Hall-Dale of Farmingdale, Monmouth Academy, Wiscasset and Lisbon of Lisbon Falls.

“It would be good if we could get to the playoffs again this year, but if we could get to .500 I’d be happy, with the schedule we have,” he said. “It’s a pretty tough schedule.”

The Bucs open the regular season on Monday, April 26 at Wiscasset.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.