Columbus School for Girls tennis coach Tom Haddow won't be overly alarmed if his team gets out to a bit of a slow start.
After all, Haddow is expecting the Unicorns to be drastically stronger in early September. That's when junior Gabby Kennedy and freshman Marissa Madison are projected to recover from injuries and return to the lineup.
"Hopefully, like all good teams, all of our players will only get stronger the deeper we go into the season," said Haddow, who is in his third season. "Of course, we should get a big boost about a month into the season because that's when we're expecting to get two of our better players back. Our team should be at a whole different level a month from now."
The Unicorns open the season Saturday, Aug. 17, when they play host to their Doubles Davis Cup.
Five juniors have returned in Mary Anne Click, Val Du, Kennedy, Paige Quinton and Linda Yang.
Last year, Click and 2013 graduate Tiffany Lau won a Division II sectional doubles title at home before placing second in the home district tournament and going 1-1 in the state tournament at Ohio State.
Senior Claire Weiler is serving as team captain and freshman Ally Kennedy rounds out the roster.
"We have only one senior, but our juniors have all played tennis here for three years, so we're not hurting for experience," Haddow said. "Mary Anne is coming off a great sophomore season and I'm hoping she can get back to state again this year."
Haddow also is hoping the Unicorns can top what they accomplished last season when they finished 7-6 overall and second in the CCL at 3-1 behind Watterson (4-0).
"It's going to be tough playing a full month without our full lineup, but we'd like to have a winning season and finish second in the CCL again," Haddow said. "Some of our girls need to step up and play up a court or two while Marissa and Gabby recover from their injuries, but that should make them better and prepare them for the sectional and district tournaments."
Young golf team making strides
Two letterwinners have returned to help lead the golf team in junior captain Saba Mehra and sophomore Caroline Korterud.
Completing the lineup are junior Erika Sims and freshmen Karrington Hanks, Camryn Pickworth and Megan Wong.
The Unicorns opened Aug. 7 by shooting a 426 to place sixth in the first round of the MOGGL tournament at Mentel Memorial behind champion Watterson (322), as Wong (86), Korterud (107) and Pickworth (112) led the way.
"Saba, as our captain, is very poised and sets a good example for the other girls," first-year coach Matt Coker said.
"Caroline brings some experience, and the other four girls are new to varsity golf. I was expecting our scores to be higher since we don't have a lot of experience, but Megan's scores have been impressive so far, and all of the girls are doing better than expected. They've worked hard on their games and have kept great attitudes."
The Unicorns have set the goal of improving on last year's postseason performance when they finished 11th (452) in a Division II sectional tournament at Blacklick Woods behind champion Bexley (375).
"Our goal for the regular season is get our girls' scores down into the 95 to 100 range consistently," Coker said.
"We want to finish above .500 against the teams we face and we're looking forward to sectional, trying to get our whole team through to district."