Even though his team lost its first four matches, Groveport Madison High School boys tennis coach Doug Ewart wasn't the least bit frustrated or concerned.
With only one experienced varsity player in his lineup in senior Forrest Baldwin, Ewart will be measuring his team's success by how much his players improve over the course of the season rather than by the number of wins.
"Most of our athletes start playing tennis in high school and they get matched up against a lot of teams that have kids who have played since grade school," he said. "Our focus is making sure we continue to improve and all of our players are making progress. Even when we're losing matches, you can see light bulbs going on in our players' heads because they're learning from the experience and getting better."
Baldwin entered the week 2-2 at first singles, picking up his wins against Lancaster's Ricky Renko (6-1, 6-0 in a 4-1 loss April 8 in an OCC-Ohio Division match) and Westerville Central's Jimmy D'Amico (6-1, 6-1 in a 4-1 loss April 10).
"Forrest's a fourth-year varsity player and a team captain and he's been our leader on the court," Ewart said. "Forrest's had one bad set in each of his first two losses, but other than that, he's played really well. He does an excellent job of utilizing his strengths and hiding his weaknesses."
The rest of the Cruisers entered the week still looking for their first victories. Groveport's other losses came against Westerville South (5-0 on April 3) and league-foe Gahanna (5-0 on April 9).
However, Ewart said juniors Cory Johnson (first doubles), Nate Parsons (first doubles) and Joshua Sampson (second singles) and sophomore Jacob Bogner (second doubles) already have made significant strides in improving their skills.
"The kids are improving and that's what matters the most," Ewart said. "I've been impressed with Joshua's improvement. Cory and Nate are developing into a capable doubles team, and Jacob is a left-handed doubles player who has improved his game quite a bit."
Ewart expects his team to be more competitive the second half of the season.
Groveport played Grove City on April 16 in an OCC-Ohio match and faced Watkins Memorial on April 17. The Cruisers will play host to Hamilton Township on Thursday, April 18.
"These are matches that should give us a chance to grow a little bit," Ewart said. "Hamilton Township is very similar to us in terms of experience, so that should be a good match. All of our guys are getting better and we'll be a way better team in May than we are in April."
Boys track team fares well at Stingel
The boys track and field team scored 50 points to finish sixth of 15 teams in the Stingel Invitational on April 13, behind champion and host Pickerington North (146.5).
"This is the best finish we've had in this meet in the 10 years I've been coaching this team," coach Jason Brooks said. "We're excited because we beat some big dogs in this meet, such as Thomas Worthington and Gahanna, and I don't know if we've ever beaten Gahanna before. We were thin because we had some kids taking their ACT exams that day, but we did really well overall."
Thomas (44.5) and Gahanna (26) finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
The highest finish for the Cruisers was turned in by Eddie Wilson, Ryan Robinette, Chris Robinson-Harrell and D'Marious Napier, who combined to place second in the 1,600-meter relay (3 minutes, 29.04 seconds).
Placing third were Napier in the high jump (6 feet, 4 inches), Robinette in the 110 hurdles (15.94) and Terry Dinkins, Dana Cherry, Emmanuel Salako and Mecca Swain in the 400 relay (45.91). The 800 relay of Wilson, Cherry, Napier and Swain finished fourth (1:33.48).
"We don't have indoor track facilities, so our kids are still getting into shape right now," Brooks said. "We've only been running a month, but we're already much further ahead of the times we've run the past few weeks."
Groveport will compete Friday, April 19, in the Mifflin Invitational.
"Pickerington North is going to be at (Mifflin), too, and they may be the best boys team in the state," Brooks said. "If it's warm that night, I'm going to let our dogs loose to see if we can run with Pickerington North. If we can, that will show that we can compete with any team in the OCC."
Moss leads way for girls track team
The girls track and field team finished 13th (22) of 14 teams in the Stingel Invitational behind champion Gahanna (133).
Champagne Moss led the way for the Cruisers, placing fourth in the long jump (16-0), seventh in the 100 (13.74) and teaming with Eva Jerkins, Jaliyah Atkinson and Sharde Bumper to place fourth in the 400 relay (52.66) and combining with Jerkins, Atkinson and Atyuana Jones to place fifth in the 800 relay (1:50.68).
Jones placed sixth in the long jump (15-5).