Groveport Madison Roundup
Golfers facing learning curve
Teaching might be the most important part of coaching, and it's something Groveport Madison High School boys golf coach Joe Rinkes values.
The Cruisers have just two experienced golfers, so the fourth-year coach has been putting in extra time on the practice tee and green so far this season.
"A lot of the kids are just starting," said Rinkes, whose team opened Aug. 13 in the Logan Invitational at Brass Ring. "They're learning the game, with the exception of the two (letterwinners), so we're kind of starting to try to build something. We don't have a junior high program, which, when you're playing against the Pickeringtons and Gahannas and those teams, it makes it a little more challenging, but we persevere.
"We're teaching the basics to a lot of these freshmen. We're teaching etiquette, simple grip and all those things. We're the entry level for them. They're just learning the game and clubs. We have to cover it all, where a lot of other schools have swing coaches and other things.
"It's challenging, but nonetheless we're teaching them and they're learning something that's going to be a benefit going forward."
Senior Clint Miller and junior Trent Kopala are the returnees.
"Clint is a four-year (letterwinner) for me," Rinkes said. "He's a good ball striker, he understands the game and he's a good leader on and off the course. He helps out with the younger kids and teaches them."
Miller averaged 82 over 18 holes last season and was second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.
"Clint wants to make first team in the league," Rinkes said. "He's going to have to shoot in the 70s to have that happen, and he's been working on it."
Kopala, who is expected to be the Cruisers' No. 2 golfer, averaged around 90 over 18 holes last year in his first varsity season.
"Trent came to us with some background in golf last year," Rinkes said. "He has made some great strides over the summer."
Newcomers are sophomore Carly Larkin and freshmen Connor Lindsay, Gavin Wise, Shaun Chapman and Holly Baisden. Larkin and Baisden are competing with the boys during the regular season because the school does not have a girls team.
"Those (five) need to learn the game and come away with some things that will stick with them," Rinkes said. "As long as they stick with it and learn some things, they'll improve.
"If they can get out there on the course and play 18 holes with minimal penalties as you can have, that's what we want for them."
Groveport finished 0-28 in the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament last season to place eighth, behind Pickerington North (28-0), Gahanna (22-6), Lancaster (19-9), Grove City (16-12), Pickerington Central (12-16), Reynoldsburg (9-19) and Newark (6-22).
The league championship was North's seventh in a row.
The first round of the OCC-Ohio tournament was Aug. 15 at Darby Creek. The second round will be played Tuesday, Aug. 21, at The Players Club at Foxfire.
"We struggle because we don't have a junior high program," Rinkes said. "We're trying to establish that and get it going, which would help. We're up against teams that have two varsity teams and a junior varsity team, and they have to make cuts."
Girls tennis team lacks experience
The girls tennis team enters the season without much varsity experience.
"We graduated a large group from last year's team," 34th-year coach Doug Ewart said, "so we have a lot of enthusiasm this year and a lot of inexperience."
The Cruisers, who open Tuesday, Aug. 21, with an OCC-Ohio match at Gahanna, lost five players to graduation in Lauren Engle, Arayia Gay, Andrea McNeal, Kayia Mosley and Ruth Sleshi. Engle and Sleshi were co-captains.
Two returnees, juniors Alexandria Goodwin and Hannah Roach, will serve as co-captains this season.
"They've earned that from their positions of involvement and everything else," Ewart said of Goodwin and Roach. "That includes what they did last year as far as being involved with the team."
Others on the team include senior Shirley Tang, junior Kaysea Smith and sophomore Elise Goodwin.
"Elise is probably the most talented player that I have this year," Ewart said. "We will see how she develops and how she progresses.
"Kaysea is a catcher on the softball team and an athlete. She's really looking to just complement the physical talents and attributes she has. She has good hand-eye coordination and an understanding of what athletics is about. It'll be a learning process this year, but she could be a pleasant surprise."
Ewart is happy with the squad he has put together.
"What I have is a group of outstanding, committed students who are leaders," he said. "They want to include tennis in their high school activities. They have taken a racket and have worked really hard. They've gone to camps and have worked on getting a little more focused on what's going on."
Last season, the Cruisers went 0-7 in OCC-Ohio matches and finished the league tournament with six points to place eighth, behind Pickerington Central (75, 7-0), Pickerington North (47, 5-2), Lancaster (43, 4-3), Gahanna (39, 5-2), Reynoldsburg (33, 4-3), Newark (15, 2-5) and Grove City (11, 1-6).