Although the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team didn't pull off any upsets while winning four of its first six dual matches, coach Steve Sisko said he was satisfied with the way the Patriots opened the season.

Although the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team didn't pull off any upsets while winning four of its first six dual matches, coach Steve Sisko said he was satisfied with the way the Patriots opened the season.

After all, Liberty's athletes are each playing new positions. The Patriots lost their top two singles players from a year ago in 2011 graduates Alexander Hathaway and Mitch Lothes.

Both of Liberty's early losses were against strong opponents in OCC-Cardinal Division rival Dublin Jerome (4-1 on April 3) and Pickerington North (4-1 on April 11).

"So far, we've won the matches that we should have won and lost to two very good teams," Sisko said. "We'd like to win every match, but all of our kids have moved up at least two courts to replace our top two singles players and some of our guys had zero varsity experience coming into this year, so it's going to take some time before they're ready to beat the best teams on our schedule."

The Patriots beat Olentangy Orange 4-1 on April 5 and defeated Olentangy 5-0 in a league match April 10.

Against Orange, Kyle Flahive beat Tim Hawk 6-4, 6-3 at second singles, Kevin Pang defeated P.J. Dahn 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 at third singles, Manu Matsa and Shashank Sirivolu beat Ryan Jay and Joseph Lee 7-5, 6-4 at first doubles and Andrew Topinka and Alex Hernandez defeated Jonathan Ricci and Jon Peddicord 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 at second doubles.

Doug Ganim defeated Vick Chhabria 6-1, 6-7, 7-6 at first singles for Orange's only win.

"It's always good to beat your sister schools, I guess," Sisko said. "It was really windy when we played Orange, but both teams had to deal with the weather, so I'll make no excuses."

Liberty also beat Westerville North 5-0 on April 12 to improve to 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Dublin Scioto in a league match April 17.

Against North, Flahive rallied to beat Xan Lindow 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at second singles.

The Patriots will play another key league match Tuesday, April 24, at Westerville Central.

"If we're going to stay close behind Dublin Jerome in the standings and have a chance to catch them in our league tournament (May 5 at home), we have to win the rest of our league matches," Sisko said. "Vick and Kyle have played really well for us at first and second singles. Kyle played a great match against North. He really grew up in that match."

Pioneers dealing with inconsistent start

Orange has been streaky this season, winning its first two matches before losing four consecutive matches and then winning two more entering this week.

"This isn't the kind of start to our season that I was thinking we were going to have," coach Mark Latham said. "We couldn't catch a break the past few weeks because the weather has been windy and cold. When we lost to Upper Arlington B (3-2 on April 9) the wind took the ball sideways. When we played Liberty, all of the matches could have gone either way because it was insanely windy and the players had trouble controlling the ball. Give Liberty credit because they played the wind better than we did."

The Pioneers open the Division I OTCA tournament Thursday, April 19, at Reynoldsburg.

"Reynoldsburg appears to be a team that's very even with us across most of the courts, so that match is probably going to be the bellwether for our season," Latham said.

Orange closes out its OCC-Capital dual-match schedule by playing host to Hilliard Bradley on Tuesday, April 24, and playing at Delaware on April 26.

Through eight matches, Ganim was 7-1 at first singles, Hawk was 4-4 at second singles and Jay and Lee were 5-3 at first doubles. Dahn and Caleb Kok have combined to earn a 4-4 record at third singles, while four players have combined to go 3-5 at second doubles.

"I hope we can beat Hilliard Bradley and Delaware to get back up into second in the OCC behind New Albany," Latham said. "If we can win at third singles and second doubles, it looks like we could win most of the rest of our matches."