New Albany High School boys tennis coach Marc Thomas is happy to take a few extra minutes to make out his lineup before matches.
A month into the season, the Eagles continue to use nine players, and the formula has worked. New Albany entered the week at 8-3 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital Division, and was ranked ninth in the first Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state poll.
"We'll always take being in the top 10 in the state," Thomas said. "We're a very deep team, with a lot of people in a lot of spots. We have two great leaders (sophomores C.J. Cash and Alex Kobelt, both singles players), and it can be different from day to day who we start depending on who we're playing. Being deep, and young, really is a good problem to have."
Cash and Kobelt have taken the top two singles spots in most matches, but seniors Rathnakishore Giri and Jacob Teich and freshman Harrison Lippy also have rotated in singles. Doubles teams have included Teich, junior Durga Samanthula, sophomore Nick Blair and freshmen Noah Fox and Sam Malik.
"(Cash and Kobelt) are always facing the other team's best players, and with our schedule that makes for a lot of tough competition," Thomas said. "It seems like those guys are playing state qualifiers almost every week."
New Albany hasn't shied from scheduling tough competition. The Eagles finished fourth (25 points) in the eight-team Lakewood St. Edward Invitational on April 6 behind champion St. Edward (42), they defeated Hunting Valley University School 5-0 on April 13 and split two matches at Upper Arlington on April 20, losing to Springboro 3-2 and defeating Perrysburg 4-1.
New Albany hadn't lost a set in OCC-Capital play entering an April 30 home match against Big Walnut. The Eagles close their league schedule at Watkins Memorial on Thursday, May 2, and at home against Mount Vernon on Tuesday, May 7, before the OCC-Capital tournament May 11 at Olentangy.
"We'll continue to move pieces around and get guys time," Thomas said. "It's an important thing for us to, as the season progresses, get plenty of opportunities for everybody to play.
"Everybody who's getting a chance has earned their way into the lineup. All that competition has created a really good team atmosphere, and that's what I want to see. Every single player on this team has contributed to what we've done so far."
Baseball team clawing back from slow start
Baseball coach Bob Talpas isn't surprised that his team, which didn't return any starters from a year ago, weathered several up-and-down streaks through the first month of the season.
"We don't have any area (statistical) leaders or anything, but I'm pretty happy with how we've been hitting the ball the last few weeks," said Talpas, whose team entered the week at 9-10 overall and 4-4 in the OCC-Capital. "The thing for us is that if we go up against a pretty good team, we have to play a perfect game to beat them."
Entering the week, the Eagles' longest winning streak was four games, against Franklin Heights (16-3 and 28-2), Delaware (4-3) and Newark (9-6) from April 15-20. They hadn't lost more than three in a row.
Through 16 games, the offense was being led by junior first baseman/outfielder Robert Chaddock (.363, 8 RBI, 6 doubles, 15 runs), senior second baseman Zach Wedekind (.317, 8 RBI) and junior third baseman Ross Henze (.302, 13 RBI). Senior first baseman/outfielder Bobby Tarnapol was hitting .285 with 13 RBI, three doubles and a home run, and junior outfielder Victor Chamberlain was hitting .287, three doubles and one home run -- a grand slam in New Albany's 28-run effort against Franklin Heights on April 18.
Junior pitcher Tommy Parsons was 0-2 with two saves, a 3.53 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 30 innings.
"He's probably our No. 1 guy right now," Talpas said. "He pitched a great game in a 4-1 loss to (Olentangy) Orange (on April 8). He's been very consistent. We've been in games all year. We must learn how to close the deal in close games."
Boys lacrosse team enjoying depth
Sophomore attacker Ryan Dunn's 21 goals entering the week helped the boys lacrosse team to records of 4-6 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio, but the Eagles have seen increased goals from the rest of the team in recent weeks.
Junior attack Sam Reader had two goals and sophomore midfielder Jack Burgdoerfer scored in a 6-3 win over Columbus Academy on April 27.
Burgdoerfer and sophomore midfielder Christo Semertsidis scored three goals each in a 9-8 overtime loss to defending Division II state champion DeSales on April 24.
Junior goalkeeper Doug Collins made a season-high 17 saves against Academy after making 12 against DeSales.
"Early on, Dunn was doing it all for us and now we're getting everybody involved," assistant coach Tony Ward said.
"If you have one player scoring all of your goals, then you're probably not doing something right. Our goal is to get everybody involved and that's been happening. We started out the season, those first four or five games, averaging between three and five goals, and we've been picking it up lately against better teams, too. It's not like the competition went down."