While playing first singles for the Dublin Jerome High School boys tennis team, junior Sean Stein often befuddles and defeats opponents with his serve and volley.

While playing first singles for the Dublin Jerome High School boys tennis team, junior Sean Stein often befuddles and defeats opponents with his serve and volley.

Unlike the majority of high school tennis players who prefer to overpower opponents from the baseline, Stein immediately moves to the net after hitting a serve and tries to end points quickly with one or more volleys.

When receiving a serve, Stein typically uses a chip-and-charge technique, in which he slices his return and then follows it to the net to try to finish the point with a volley.

Those techniques haven't been popular with most players since the early 1980s, but Stein has used them to rack up winning records in each of his first three seasons with the Celtics.

Through nine matches this year, Stein was 6-3, with all three losses coming against returning state qualifiers. Last Friday, he beat DeSales' Myles Harris - a returning district qualifier in singles - 7-5, 6-1.

"Sean's a throwback," coach Aaron Bauer said. "Sean's style is pretty unique and that gives him a little bit of an advantage because his opponents haven't seen many people who serve and volley. Sean's one of the best high school players I've seen use that style, and he's one of the best competitors I've seen in my time at Jerome."

Stein, who began playing tennis at the age of 5, successfully utilized a more modern style for several years.

But even though he was a successful player who was ranked as high as ninth by the United States Tennis Association in the 12-and-under Midwest Division, he chose to change his playing style at the age of 13.

A left-hander, Stein switched from a Western grip that maximized topspin and power to a semi-Western grip, which is more versatile. He also began utilizing a one-handed backhand instead of a two-handed backhand.

More importantly, it was during that time that Stein began using the serve and volley and the chip-and-charge method.

"I was always small for my age, and I knew that my game wouldn't work so well as I got older and my opponents got bigger and more powerful," he said. "When I switched things up, I was looking to the future. My style is pretty rare and I catch a lot of people off guard with it."

Stein went 15-6 and qualified to the Division I district tournament as a freshman. Last year, Stein made it back to district, where he went 1-1, losing to eventual district and state champion Peter Kobelt of New Albany 6-3, 6-0 in a state-qualifying match.

Despite that success, Stein unexpectedly quit playing tennis last August and didn't pick up a racquet again until three weeks before the start of this season.

"There wasn't any passion there and I wasn't having fun anymore," he said. "It got to the point where I didn't like tennis and, last August, I thought for sure I wouldn't play tennis anymore. But I've always had fun playing high school tennis and I knew I was a big factor for my team, so I came back because I didn't want to let anyone down."

Stein is planning on pursuing a career as a doctor and said he doesn't plan on playing tennis in college. Yet, he has set some lofty goals for his final two high school seasons.

"Personally, I want to try to qualify to state in doubles," he said. "My goal for our team is make it to the (state) final four in the OTCA tournament."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Coffman and Scioto boys tennis teams:

COFFMAN

*April 13 - Defeated Thomas Worthington 4-1

April 14 - Def. Watterson 4-1

April 15 - Def. Pickerington North 5-0

April 17 - Finished second (27) in eight-team Hilliard Davidson Doubles Tournament, behind New Albany (29)

*April 20 - Def. Hilliard Darby 5-0

April 21 - Def. St. Charles 4-1

*April 22 - Def. Hilliard Davidson 4-1

*Last Tuesday - Played Worthington Kilbourne

Last Wednesday - Played Olentangy Orange

Today - At Olentangy Liberty

Friday - At New Albany

Monday - Home vs. Pickerington Central

*Tuesday - At Upper Arlington

Of note: The Shamrocks were 9-1 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central match

SCIOTO

April 12 - Lost to Thomas Worthington 5-0

*April 13 - Def. Westerville North 4-1

April 14 - Def. Delaware 3-2

April 15 - Lost to Pickerington Central 4-1

*April 19 - Def. Westerville South 3-2

*April 20 - Lost to Westerville Central 3-2

*April 22 - Lost to Liberty 5-0

Last Monday - Match against Hilliard Darby postponed

*Last Tuesday - Played Jerome

Last Wednesday - Played Village Academy

*Friday - Home vs. Olentangy

Monday - Home vs. Groveport

*Tuesday - At Marysville

Of note: The Irish were 3-5 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal match

JEROME

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Jerome boys tennis team:

April 12 - Defeated Wellington 4-1

April 15 - Def. Watterson 4-1

*April 19 - Def. Westerville North 5-0

*April 20 - Def. Olentangy 5-0

*April 22 - Def. Marysville 5-0

Last Friday - Def. DeSales 5-0

Last Saturday - Tied Hilliard Davidson for fifth (8) in Worthington Cup, behind champion Upper Arlington (16). Kent Seitz and Sean Stein went 2-1 to place third in doubles. Ryuji Odajima went 1-2 to place seventh in singles.

Last Monday - Match against Upper Arlington B postponed

*Last Tuesday - Played Scioto

Last Wednesday - Played Upper Arlington

Today - At Olentangy Orange

Friday - At Big Walnut in OTCA match

Saturday - Home vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier

*Tuesday - Home vs. Westerville Central

*Wednesday - At Westerville South

Of note: The Celtics were 8-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal match