Whenever the New Albany High School girls tennis team's season ends and coach Marc Thomas discusses how many players contributed to the Eagles' successes, he'll read a long list of names.
The Eagles, who were 13-0 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Capital Division before a Sept. 16 match at Mount Vernon, hardly have fielded the same lineup day in and day out. Although there have been stalwarts on each court, seven players had played singles matches entering the week, four more were constant doubles players and three alternated between the two.
"You want to have the pieces to move around, and we have lots of solid players. They've been a good group," Thomas said. "I knew we'd have a lot of girls competing for playing time, and each and every one of them has definitely earned their spot in the lineup. The best players play. That's what it boils down to."
In dual matches entering the week, senior Carol Vitellas was 9-0, with all but one win coming at third singles and the other at second. Junior Jane Haffer was 7-3 between first and second singles. Junior Francesca DiLorenzo, who won the Division I state doubles title with older sister Cristina last year, was 3-0 at first singles. Freshman Alex Cash, who has played both singles and doubles, was 5-1 at second singles and 2-0 at first singles.
Senior Alyssa Seneviratne and freshmen Janelle Ghanem and Taylor Selby have played both singles and doubles. Also manning the doubles courts have been junior Sydney Setnar, sophomores Jane Silverstein and Sundari Vudatala and freshman Christina Vitellas.
As the winner of the OCC-Capital, New Albany will play for the overall OCC championship Saturday, Sept. 21, at a site to be determined against the other three OCC division winners -- Dublin Jerome (Cardinal), Pickerington Central (Ohio) and Upper Arlington (Central). New Albany had clinched the title before playing Mount Vernon and won five matches by 5-0 scores. In a 4-1 win at Olentangy Orange on Aug. 20, Haffer fell to touted freshman Alle Sanford 6-0, 6-0.
New Albany also earned the No. 1 ranking in last week's Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state poll for the first time since Thomas became coach in 2011.
"The big question now is: Can we finish what we started?" Thomas said. "If we can finish the season No. 1, that's what I want to see. Usually it's Dublin Jerome or Upper Arlington that's been ranked at the top from this area. When you have those two programs down the road with their traditions and (you) are able to be in the conversation, that says you're doing something right in your program. But we give them all the respect in the world."
Defense key in boys soccer team's start
After a 2-1 loss at Hilliard Bradley in its opener Aug. 17, the boys soccer team entered this week on a six-game winning streak. Before visiting Olentangy on Sept. 17, the Eagles had outscored their opponents 18-2 and hadn't allowed a goal since the opener.
Coach Ben Arthurs credited senior defender Tristan Lyles and sophomore goalkeeper Anthony Flowers' leadership as New Albany also started OCC-Capital play at 3-0.
Flowers was averaging 4.5 saves per game.
"We returned 11 seniors overall and they've been really solid," Arthurs said. "We messed around with some formations the first game, and then the streak began. Anthony and Tristan are captains and they're great leaders."
Other top players in the midfield and defense have included seniors Loren Albritton and Will Rogers and sophomores Cameron Campbell, Jack Driscoll, Jared Gerlacher and Zack Judis.
"They're absolutely meeting my expectations," Arthurs said. "This is the team I've been expecting for four years. All of them play club, all of them play year-round and they communicate great with each other."
New Albany entered the week tied with Worthington Kilbourne for the OCC-Capital lead, one game ahead of Olentangy and Orange. The Eagles defeated Orange 1-0 on Aug. 27 in the league opener and do not play Kilbourne until Oct. 10.
Girls golf team places fifth in league
Junior Megan Dressel's round of 88 led the girls golf team to a fifth-place finish in the last of four OCC-Cardinal tournaments Sept. 10 at Oakhaven, and fifth place in the league for the season.
Junior Ellie Billisits had a 93, followed by senior Madison Fixari (94) and sophomores Maggie Records (95) and Maggie Archer (105), as the Eagles shot 370 to finish behind Jerome (287), Olentangy Liberty (356), Dublin Scioto (357) and Olentangy (368) and ahead of Pickerington Central (385) and Orange (392).
New Albany went 8-16 in league matches to place behind Jerome (24-0), Liberty (20-4), Olentangy (14-10) and Scioto (14-10) and ahead of Central (4-20) and Orange (0-24).