Junior Niki Stearns won each of the first seven matches she played at No. 1 singles for the Centennial High School girls tennis team this season, while seniors Jesse Manser and Maggie Sullivan won six of their first seven matches at first doubles.
Coach Barbara Stevenson is confident those players will fare well in the City League coaches tournament, which begins Saturday, Sept. 22, at Linden-McKinley and concludes Monday, Sept. 24, at Columbus South.
"Niki will probably be the No. 1 seed in the coaches tournament because she won the singles title last year and she's off to such a great start this year," Stevenson said. "Niki's been hitting the ball like a rocket and nailing both the corners with consistency.
"Maggie and Jesse have the goods to win the doubles title. They will have a great opportunity to win out if they're rested and they're both on."
Centennial will play a dual match at Dublin Scioto on Thursday, Sept. 20.
"Dublin Scioto's a strong team and that match should get our girls to play at a higher level going into the City coaches tournament," Stevenson said. "Dublin Scioto will be a tough team for us to compete with, but I schedule teams like this to give Niki the experience of playing quality opponents at No. 1 singles so she will be ready for the sectional tournament."
The Stars went 4-1 in dual matches last week, beating Linden and Mifflin 5-0 on Sept. 10, Briggs 3-2 on Sept. 12 and Hilliard Davidson B 3-2 on Sept. 13.
"We're doing great," Stevenson said. "Our only loss has been to Village Academy (3-2 on Sept. 11) and they're really good. We beat Briggs in a close match even though we didn't have our full lineup. And we pulled out a close win over Davidson's B team, which was a good win for us."
Football team vying for first win
The football team lost to Beechcroft 55-15 on Sept. 14 at home to drop to 0-4 overall and 0-1 in the City League-North Division.
The Stars took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, as Dazmin Smith broke loose for a 26-yard run up the middle to set up a 2-yard quarterback sneak by Jeremy Johnson for a touchdown on the next play.
Beechcroft came back to take a 29-7 halftime lead and led 43-7 after three quarters en route to improving to 2-1 overall.
Quarterback Maurice Hale had 331 yards of offense and four touchdowns, and Beechcroft had 507 total yards.
Johnson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jirequez Fair-Harris in the fourth quarter and Fair-Harris caught a pass from tailback P.J. Rogers for a two-point conversion to account for the rest of Centennial's scoring.
"Beechcroft is a very good team and they're at a different level than us at this point," coach Mark Shaffer said. "We were competitive with them early, but they have some nice-sized kids and they kind of wore us down."
The Stars will play another league game Friday, Sept. 21, at Linden.
The Panthers, who beat Centennial 28-20 last year, lost to Northland 27-6 in their City-North opener Sept. 14 to drop to 1-3 overall.
Key players in Linden's spread offense are junior quarterback Dimitrius Ridgeway, senior running back Kijuan Busby, senior slot receiver Tremayne Tittle and junior running back Shane Cattling.
The Stars are allowing an average of 39.5 points per game.
"On defense, we're just trying to get back to the basics of pursuing the ball well and tackling," Shaffer said.
When given a reasonable amount of time, Johnson has played well at quarterback, according to Shaffer.
Rogers is Centennial's leading rusher and Eric Cofer-Wilson is its leading receiver.
Playing important roles on the Panthers' 4-3 defense are senior twins and linebackers Dashawn and Rashawn Willis, sophomore lineman Jacob Polk and junior defensive back Kavon Edwards.
"We'll be looking to run and pass equally in this game," Shaffer said. "Our quarterback is putting in a good effort for us. When he has time, he throws the ball well. The problem is getting him some protection up front. That's something we're continuing to work on."