Pickerington High School North senior Matt Gordon has some hostilities toward last season's Panther Invitational boys tennis tournament.

Pickerington High School North senior Matt Gordon has some hostilities toward last season's Panther Invitational boys tennis tournament.

North tied Poland Seminary for second place with 16 points as Hudson (30) won, but the final standings had North third as Hudson and Poland Seminary received trophies as part of a tiebreaker system.

"We play seven people on a team," Gordon said. "We have one bracket of singles and three different brackets for doubles. The tiebreaker is where you place on singles and our singles guy had a hurt ankle and stopped playing after the second round."

"We did pretty well and I had fun, but I'm looking forward to winning a trophy this year."

The field for this season's event, to be held Saturday, is similar. North, Pickerington Central, Hudson, Poland Seminary and St. Marys Memorial return, and Canfield and Dayton Oakwood are newcomers.

"Oakwood is usually a fairly strong team form the Dayton area," North coach Brian Hoff said. "Also, Canfield is from northeast Ohio. It's our goal to get strong teams from all four corners of the state so our players can get experience playing different teams and see the level of tennis in central Ohio compared to the rest of the state."

It is the second season Central will make the short trip.

"The kids think it's exciting to be at a tournament and compete with teams outside the area," Central coach Kelli Rings said. "They get to see good competition and it pushes them a little bit to work harder to compete at a top level and compete with these guys. It raises the bar."

The Tigers finished fourth with 13 points at last season's Panther Invitational.

"I thought we had a team last year and this year to compete with some of these better teams," Rings said.

Rings continues to try to find a solidified lineup for Central. It has been an ongoing battle for her to find seven spots for 13 capable players. On April 17, Central beat Jerome 3-2 as winners were Chase Thomas (second singles), Nischal Raya and Josh Fridley (first doubles) and Patrick Nightengale and Kyle Bloomster (second doubles)

"I'm making some progress but still not 100 percent," Rings said. "It's about getting these boys to rise to the occasion and step up and play. Right now I don't see a whole lot of fire in them. We'll keep working until we get that right combination and keep working through it until something clicks."

According to Hoff, North's lineup also has been fluid, including at first singles as senior Neelay Thakkar and sophomore Adit Vakil have seen time.

"Our one constant has been first doubles," Hoff said. "Matt Gordon and Ryan Gorring are playing fairly well together. They played second doubles last year and they seem to be a good fit."

Gordon's quest to earn some hardware is exactly the mindset Hoff wants his players to have entering the invitational.

"Last year, we were really motivated to improve on how we've done the previous year," Hoff said. "The guys came out and played really well. It's a pride thing. It's our tournament. We're sick of seeing all the trophies and medals going to other teams. We want to keep some here and we're determined to keep some here."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Central and North boys tennis teams:

CENTRAL

March 31 -- Defeated Watterson 3-2

April 2 -- Lost to Reynoldsburg 5-0

April 7 -- Def. Westerville Central 5-0

April 8 -- Lost to Wellington 3-2

April 9 -- Lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-1 in OTCA Division I tournament

*April 10 -- Lost Worthington Kilbourne 4-1

April 15 -- Def. Westerville North 5-0

April 16 -- Def. Groveport 4-1

*April 17 -- Def. Dublin Jerome 3-2

Last Monday -- Def. Watkins Memorial 5-0

Last Tuesday -- Played Lancaster

*Today -- At Olentangy. Central won 5-0 last season.

Saturday -- At Panther Invitational at North

Monday -- Home vs. Grove City. The teams did not play last season.

Tuesday -- At Hilliard Darby. The teams did not play last season.

Of note: The Tigers were 6-4 overall before last Tuesday and are 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.

*OCC-Cardinal match

NORTH

April 2 -- Lost to Kilbourne 4-1

April 3 -- Def. Dublin Jerome 3-2

April 8 -- Def. Gahanna 3-2

*April 10 -- Def. Marysville 5-0

April 15 -- Def. Chillicothe 4-1

April 16 -- Lost to New Albany 5-0

*April 17 -- Def. Westerville Central 5-0

Last Tuesday -- Played Hilliard Davidson

*Today -- At Delaware. North won 5-0 last season.

Saturday -- Home Panther Invitational

Tuesday -- Home vs. Lancaster. North won 3-2 last season.

Wednesday -- At Olentangy. The teams did not play last season.

Of note: The Panthers were 4-2 overall before last Tuesday and are 2-0 in the OCC-Central.

*OCC-Central match