Grove City eyes return to district
Andrew Ray, a senior who is expected to play first singles, is among the key returnees for the Grove City boys tennis team. Buy This Photo
Eleventh-year Grove City High School boys tennis coach Ron Smith entered the week with a pretty good idea about what the lineup would be for his team's season-opening match April 3 at Central Crossing.
Smith, however, will have to wait to see whether his team will have any Division I district qualifiers for the third consecutive year. The Greyhounds were represented at district two years ago by 2011 graduate Joey Hemphill and last season by 2012 graduate Joey Swavley, both of whom lost in the opening round.
"We hope the guys get to that level," Smith said of the players on this year's team. "A lot of our guys now play in the offseason. We'll see if they've gotten their games to where they need it to be."
Smith projected seniors Andrew Ray, Joey Braughton and Brandon Davis to be his first, second and third singles players, respectively. Seniors Chris Lane and Bryton Wise were expected to play first doubles, with the second doubles team uncertain entering this week.
The rest of the roster consists of seniors Chris Bennett, Kevin Coakley, Zac Easterday, Jacob Funk, Zach Gruell, Cory Parker, Jacob Stephenson and Jared Stephenson, juniors Jason Rohr and Jesse Sturm, sophomores Caden Andrick and Garrett Wise and freshman Killian Hartman.
Last season, Grove City finished 12-4 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Ohio Division, finishing the league tournament with 32 points to place fourth, behind Pickerington North (63, 7-0), Reynoldsburg (60, 6-1) and Gahanna (47, 5-2) and ahead of Pickerington Central (29, 3-4), Lancaster (18, 2-5), Groveport (16, 1-6) and Newark (3, 0-7).
The Greyhounds' league opener is Tuesday, April 9, at Reynoldsburg.
Last year, Swavley finished fourth in the sectional tournament at Pickerington Central to secure the final district berth. Braughton and Davis each went 1-1 and the doubles teams of Lane and Wise and Ray and Wright both fell one win short of qualifying for district.
"Hopefully, we're pretty well set," Smith said. "All of the seniors should get a chance to play at least No. 2 doubles at some point. I'm curious to see how everything plays out."
Comets were expected to return most players
Central Crossing opened its season April 1 with a 4-1 loss at Jonathan Alder.
The Comets finished 4-12 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Central last year, concluding the league tournament with four points to finish eighth, behind Upper Arlington (77, 7-0), Dublin Coffman (54, 6-1), Hilliard Davidson (44, 5-2), Worthington Kilbourne (34, 4-3), Thomas Worthington (27, 3-4), Hilliard Darby (20, 2-5) and Westland (9, 1-6).
Darby and Kilbourne moved to the OCC-Cardinal as part of OCC realignment last summer and were replaced by Marysville and Olentangy Liberty.
The Comets' first league match is Tuesday, April 9, at home against Liberty.
Expected to return for fourth-year coach Dusty Rhodes were senior Garrett Watson, juniors Aaron Hill, Mikey Massey, Dennis Meleshchuk, Stephen Taylor and Mikhail Yakhnitskiy and sophomores Jacob Cerino and Kyle Deep.
The Comets lost four players from a year ago to graduation in Mack Bostard, Victor Garcia, Trevor Turner and Fabio Valenzi.
In a Division I sectional tournament last season at Upper Arlington, Yakhnitskiy went 1-1 in singles and the doubles team of Bostard and Valenzi also went 1-1. Deep and Hill in singles and the doubles team of Massey and Meleshchuk lost their opening matches.