The Delaware Hayes High School boys tennis team finished 8-8 last year, its first non-losing record since 2004.

The Delaware Hayes High School boys tennis team finished 8-8 last year, its first non-losing record since 2004.

With junior Robert Homan returning at the first-singles position and five of the top seven back overall, the Pacers are hoping for their first winning season since that team in 2004 finished 10-3.

But coach Dan Morrison said the true goal isn't about wins or losses.

"We can't control our opponents, or how good they are," said Morrison, who is entering his 31st season. "We don't want to think about those things. We want to go out and play our best tennis. We're working to be the best that we can be."

Homan finished 14-6 last season when Delaware scored 24 points and went 3-2 to finish third in the OCC-Central Division behind Thomas Worthington (57, 5-0) and Pickerington North (52, 4-1) and ahead of Marysville (2-3, 20), Westerville Central (18, 1-4) and Central Crossing (4, 0-5).

"Robert played in plenty of tournaments last summer and is USTA-ranked in the Ohio Valley," Morrison said. "He's knee-deep in the game and his forehand has come a real long way in the past couple of years. He can hit a forehand winner from anywhere on the court. I think his biggest improvement from last season is his patience. He's more apt to continue the point and allow the opponent to make a mistake."

Junior Dung Nguyen and sophomore Chris Leyva will play second and third singles, replacing graduates Andy Arter and Casey Fittro.

"Nguyen's backhand is much improved and his service looks real good, but needs more consistency," said Morrison, whose team will compete in the OCC-Capital this season with Big Walnut, Franklin Heights, Mount Vernon, New Albany, Olentangy Orange and Watkins Memorial. "He needs to be more confident serving, but he's been playing Robert and that has really helped him.

"Chris really impressed me in tryouts. He was playing much longer points than last season and has really worked up some patience."

Also returning are seniors Pittman Kuchers and Matt Schmitthenner, who last season finished third at second doubles in the OCC-Central.

"They were very successful as a team last season, but I don't know if we're going to keep them together or split them up in doubles this season," Morrison said. "Matt is a co-captain, along with Robert. (Schmitthenner) is a very heady player who lost at least a week of practice with the flu. Pittman is impressive at the net. We've got a while to look at things and see what's best for our team in doubles."

Competing for the other doubles positions are senior Anthony Toth, junior Justin Rike and sophomore Corey Kuchers.

"It's been a great spring thus far," Morrison said. "We've had more practices this season than the past two combined, so we feel good about starting the season. We've got eight kids who will see some playing time and we're looking forward to a good season."

At a glance

•Coach: Dan Morrison, 31st season

•Opener: Thursday at Franklin Heights

•Key players: Robert Homan, Pittman Kuchers, Chris Leyva, Dung Nguyen and Matt Schmitthenner