Golfers hope to defend City title
Whetstone High School boys golf coach Tom Philip knows a third consecutive City League championship won't come easily.
The Braves return only two of their top five players from a year ago, when they shot a 190 to win the 11-team City tournament at Mentel Memorial and finished league play with 80 points.
Centennial was second in the overall City standings with 72 points, followed by Brookhaven (64), Walnut Ridge (58), Eastmoor Academy (53), Columbus East (39), Briggs (32), Columbus West (30), Northland (20), Mifflin (16) and Columbus South (10).
Senior Nick Evans and junior Drew Gabalski return for the Braves. Rounding out the team's top five players are sophomores Carson Matthews, Dylan Matthews and Quentin Pruneau.
"(Evans and Gabalski) got in a lot of matches last year, so it's good to have them back," said Philip, who is in his fourth season leading the program.
"This year, I am looking most forward to getting back on the course," Gabalski said. "Our matches are not the ordinary weekend rounds others might be used to. In my opinion, nothing beats a round of fall golf after a long day of school."
Whetstone lost three key players from last season to graduation in Jackson Peck, Gabe Reece and Greg Rogers. Last year, Peck and Reece made first-team all-league and Rogers made second team. Peck was medalist in the nine-hole City tournament with a 44.
"We lost some key people," Philip said. "They're hard to replace. They're first-team (all-league) people. It will be a little tougher."
In the 11-team Division I sectional tournament at The Players Club at Foxfire last year, Whetstone shot a 461 to finish 10th, as Dublin Jerome (300), New Albany (316), Westerville Central (329) and Pickerington North (331) advanced to the district tournament at Apple Valley.
Rogers and Reece both shot a 105, followed by Peck (108), Gabalski (143) and Evans (170).
Philip isn't sure if his team will be able to keep its City title streak going. But if the past is any indication, he knows his players will be dedicated to the game and to the team.
"Golf in the City League can be a difficult sport," he said. "There's little transportation. You have to rely on parents and kids. They give a lot of effort. Last year, we had a great corps of golfers that came to every match. There was 100 percent cooperation from them. The guys this year will be the same."
Girls tennis team seeks to defend title
The girls tennis team will need players to step up if it is to win its third City championship in a row.
Whetstone went 15-2 overall and 10-0 in the City last season, beating Eastmoor 5-0 in the championship match for its second consecutive league title and its fifth in six years.
Eastmoor was second in the City standings at 9-1, with Centennial (8-2) and West (7-3) rounding out the top four.
"It was a top-notch team, a lot of hard workers," fourth-year coach Bucky Walters said of the Braves' 2011 squad. "It was the second year they went undefeated in the City League."
Whetstone returns only two players who saw significant action last year in senior Abby Nypaver and junior Dora Mase.
Nypaver was 25-1 overall last year, including 20-0 at second singles. She has moved up to first singles this season, replacing 2012 graduate Ciara Auddino.
In the Division I sectional tournament last year at Upper Arlington, Nypaver and 2012 graduate Kate Powers won two matches in doubles before being ousted by UA's Grace Buse and Caroline Pema -- the second seed -- 6-1, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match.
"She's a quiet leader," Walters said of Nypaver. "But she's very effective doing so. She's one of the hardest workers on the team, by far."
Mase and 2012 graduate Sarah Buckalew won their first-round doubles match at sectional before losing to Olentangy Orange's Lindsay Spragg and Ayla Hood 6-0, 6-0 in the second round.
Rounding out this year's team are Arionna Darling, Saoirse Jones, Rachel Moffat, Lily Morris, Alexandra Myers, Brenna O'Sullivan, Alice Pajor, Sophia Rizzi, Nia Stanford, Lynne Taylor-Connelly and Kamena Willoughby.
"This year's going to be a lot of new faces, a lot of inexperience," Walters said. "We lost some leadership and some skilled tennis (players)."
The Braves open Thursday, Aug. 16, at home against Hamilton Township. Their first City match is Aug. 27 against visiting Independence.
"We've worked hard on basics and I've been trying to put together some kids that work well with each other," Walters said. "Our first two or three (matches) will be outside the City, so that should tell us a lot."