Raiders relying on chemistry
The Reynoldsburg High School girls tennis team spent the preseason reworking a lineup that lost two of its top three singles players and one of its key doubles players from a year ago to graduation.
One thing the Raiders haven't had to work too hard on is developing team chemistry.
That, according to senior Keisha Cummings, has come naturally.
"We all like each other," Cummings said. "We help each other out by telling one another how we can improve on our shots."
The Raiders opened Aug. 14 at Athens and play host to Watkins Memorial on Thursday, Aug. 15, before beginning their OCC-Ohio Division schedule Tuesday, Aug. 20, at home against Grove City.
Cummings has the most varsity experience on the team at singles after finishing second in the OCC-Ohio tournament a year ago at third singles.
Cummings, senior Paris Ring, junior Diamond Person and sophomore Jadelyn Cheng competed during the preseason for the three singles positions.
Freshman Nazjaha Covington and sophomore Ciara Boykins are expected to be regulars in doubles. Seniors Brea Brooks, Veronica Hodges and Dynia Smith and sophomore Sarah Poore are others looking for playing time.
"We've got respectable talent," coach Les Somogyi said. "We're not the top of the league, but they are very, very hard-working girls. I'm very proud of them. They have a good future as far as the OCC is concerned."
Reynoldsburg finished 12-7 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Ohio last year as it placed fourth in the league with 40 points behind champion Pickerington Central (77, 7-0).
The Raiders scored 16 points in the league tournament to place second behind Central (35) as 2013 graduate Brittany Condefer finished second at first singles, classmate Rebecca Kibe took third at second singles and the first doubles team of Ring and Person placed third.
In a Division I sectional tournament at home, Person won her first two singles matches before losing in a district-qualifying match and the doubles team of Kibe and Ring lost in a district-qualifying match. The doubles team of 2013 graduate Peggy Thompson and Cheng lost in the second round and Cummings and Condefer fell in the first and second rounds, respectively, at singles.
"Jadelyn Cheng has shown incredible strength and has changed her attitude and become a very offensive player," Somogyi said. "The changes (Ring, Person and Cummings) have shown since last year have been just incredible. Ring has a backhand that just won't quit, Diamond has a forehand that can hurt someone and Keisha has unparalleled speed."
Unlike in the past when points gained in league dual matches and the league tournament were combined to determine the league champion, the OCC-Ohio title will be decided solely by dual records this season.
The champions of the four OCC divisions will compete in a tournament for the overall OCC team title, with the second-place teams in each league, the third-place teams, etc., competing in separate tournaments.
"I think things are going pretty well even though we lost some good players," Ring said. "Our singles players are all pretty good. I'm hoping we can have more wins than losses and I hope we can get the OCC championship this year."