Having returned its top four players from a year ago, the Whetstone High School boys golf team appears to have the inside track to a fifth consecutive City League championship.
However, fifth-year coach Tom Philip is seeking more from his talented squad.
"We not only want to do well in the City, but our goal is to have someone qualify for the state tournament," Philip said. "All of our golfers work very hard on the practice range and have a positive attitude when it comes to the competitive nature of golf. With so many back, we're excited and thinking about taking the next step and reaching district."
Senior twins Carson and Dylan Matthews have returned, along with classmates Quentin Pruneau and David Stern, and are expected to lead the way. In addition, the Braves added senior Brian Brockman, a Brook-haven transfer.
Also expected to compete are juniors Cameron Corbisello and Ethan Evans.
Last season in the City tournament at Airport, Whetstone shot a 168 to finish ahead of Centennial (180), Briggs (217), Walnut Ridge (221), Brook-haven (223), Columbus West (231), Northland (235), Eastmoor Academy (237), Columbus South (250) and Independence (262).
Carson Matthews and Pruneau both carded a 39 to share medalist honors with Centennial's Phil Pezzatta. Also competing were Dylan Matthews (40), Stern (50) and 2014 graduate Emily Tuttle (53).
Combined with league duals, the Braves totaled 54 points to win the overall City title, ahead of Centennial (48), Briggs (42), Walnut Ridge (30), Northland (26), Brookhaven (24), West (20), Eastmoor (16), Independence (6) and South (4).
Whetstone had three of the league's top four scoring averages and four of the top seven. Carson Matthews (39.6) and Dylan Matthews (40.1) had the top two averages, Pruneau (44.2) was fourth behind Pezzatta (41.7), and Stern (51.0) was seventh.
The Matthews brothers and Pruneau earned first-team all-league honors by having a top-five average. Stern was second-team all-league.
"Dylan, Carson, Quentin, David and Brian Brockman could make league or postseason honors," said Philip, whose team is scheduled to open Sept. 2 with a league match against Independence and Northland at Airport. "I feel Dylan, Carson and Quentin have the potential to qualify for the state tournament. This summer, Carson and Dylan played in numerous tournaments. In July at the Greater Central Ohio Junior golf tournament held at The Golf Club of Dublin, Dylan won the tournament and Carson came in second."
Last season, Whetstone finished 12th (389) in the Division I sectional at Turnberry and did not have any individual district qualifiers. Pickerington North (299), Hilliard Davidson (309) and Thomas Worthington (311) advanced to district at Apple Valley.
Carson Matthews led the Braves with an 83, as Granville's Nick Contini (72), Pickerington Central's Rodney Howell (74) and Westerville North's Ryan Pannell (74) earned the three individual district berths.
"I really like the makeup of this team," Philip said. "The top six golfers realize that golf is a team sport and that they can rely on each other. The one downfall in the City is monetary issues. We'd like to strengthen our schedule and compete in more events to prepare the boys. I'm still working on making additions to the schedule."
Tennis team aims to defend City title
The girls tennis team has returned four letterwinners from last season, when it finished 12-1 overall and won the City League championship.
Three of the returnees earned first-team all-league honors a year ago in juniors Lily Morris and Sophia Rizzi and sophomore Maggie Prosser.
Also back is junior Brenna O'Sullivan.
"We have won the City championship four years in a row and seven of the last eight," said sixth-year coach Bucky Walters, whose team opened Aug. 12 against DeSales. "We don't have a senior on the team, but we've got four starters back and a sophomore, Atyana Adams, who has been impressive."
Whetstone did not have any Division I district qualifiers last season, but did go 2-3 in first-round matches, with two of the losses going to a third set. The Braves lost just one of their top five players from last season in 2014 graduate Alex Myers.
"In order to have success, we will need continued team unity and development of our younger players," Walters said. "We have over 20 girls playing and half are brand new players, but still our goals are to be City League champions, compete with all non-league opponents and to continue to hone our physical and mental skills on the court."
Walters expected Prosser, Morris and Adams to begin the season as the starters at the three singles courts and planned to pair O'Sullivan and Rizzi at first doubles.
Junior Alice Pajor, sophomores Ava McCargish and Viviana Smith and freshmen Hannah Rizzi, Arielle Swinehart and Alia Coy-Smith are vying for time at second doubles.
"Our three singles players are very close in ability," Walters said. "Prosser is stronger overall this year in every area. She is a smart player and played second or third singles all of last season. Morris is a gifted athlete. She is an all-court player whether at the baseline or attacking the net. Jones has probably improved the most from last year. She rarely played varsity and now she has solidified a starting singles spot.
"O'Sullivan and Rizzi will form a nice doubles team, as they move and hit well as a unit."
Last season, the Braves won the City championship by totaling 95.5 points and finishing ahead of Centennial (63), Eastmoor (34.5), Independence (22), West (18), Beechcroft (16.5), Mifflin (15.5), Linden-McKinley (12.5), Africentric (8.5), Marion-Franklin (5) and Northland (4.5) in the City tournament.
Myers placed second in singles in the City tournament to make first-team all-league, and Prosser was a semifinalist in singles. The doubles team of Rizzi and Morris defeated Eastmoor's Symone Taylor and Destiny Wooten 6-3, 6-2 in the final and was first-team all-league.
*Sept. 2 -- Independence and Northland at Airport
*Sept. 4 -- Columbus South and Columbus West at Raymond Memorial
*Sept. 9 -- Eastmoor Academy and Walnut Ridge at Raymond Memorial
*Sept. 11 -- Briggs and Centennial at Mentel Memorial
*Sept. 16 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 18 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 23 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 25 -- League match at TBA
Oct. 7 -- City League tournament at Airport
*Of note: Second-round league matches determined after reseeding of teams at conclusion of first round of league play
Aug. 12 -- vs. DeSales
Aug. 16 -- at Fisher Catholic
Aug. 23 -- Teays Valley Invitational
Aug. 25 -- at Beechcroft
Aug. 27 -- vs. Mifflin
Sept. 3 -- vs. Grove City
Sept. 6 -- Grandview Bobcat Invitational
Sept. 10 -- vs. Northland
Sept. 11 -- vs. Village Academy
Sept. 15 -- vs. Linden-McKinley
Sept. 17 -- vs. Centennial
Sept. 22, 24 -- City tournament at Westgate Park
Sept. 25 -- vs. Franklin Heights