Westerville Central High School boys tennis coach Brian Arnett admitted his current team makes his job easy.

Westerville Central High School boys tennis coach Brian Arnett admitted his current team makes his job easy.

The Warhawks graduated only one player from last year's team that finished 7-9 overall and sixth in the OCC-Cardinal Division at 2-5 with 10 points, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (7-0, 35).

"We have got a lot of returnees, so it's nice to hit the ground running," said Arnett, whose team plays today at Pickerington Central. "They know what it's all about and what it takes to get better. They're working hard and they have a strong desire to get better."

Central's singles courts will look the same as last season with sophomore Luke Buchanan at first singles, junior Blake Byrns at second and senior Alex Farabaugh at third.

At first doubles, Arnett has paired senior Tallib Karaze and sophomore Mitra Patel and at second doubles there is competition among senior Jake Larkin and sophomores Max Hart and Kevin Page.

Central's experience has provided Arnett with a mentally mature team that is familiar with the challenges of the coming season. The Warhawks' biggest challenge is the competition within the OCC-Cardinal.

"Our league is too good to give points away," Arnett said. "We are emphasizing contributions from everybody. The kids have a good understanding of the importance of every point and we've improved a lot in that regard."

Last season, Central learned it can compete with a majority of the teams on its schedule and that is an invaluable lesson, according to Arnett.

"There is no substitute for having match experience," he said. "They have a better idea how to handle tough situations."

•South was the only team from Westerville last season to finish above .500. The Wildcats went 7-6 overall and placed fourth in the OCC-Cardinal at 3-4 with 14 points, but the season ended with bad luck.

First-singles player Dustin Goldman was sidelined because of an illness in late April and missed the remainder of the season. At the conference tournament, Graham Russell was held out of competition after complaining of a sore shoulder during warmups.

A year later, Goldman is no longer on the team and Russell leads the group of returnees for coach John Fill.

"With the lineup I have, I think we can field a good team," said Fill, whose team opens April 9-10 at the Rocky River Invitational. "We have high expectations."

Russell, a senior, joins classmates Bryan McKenzie and Ian Harrah on the singles courts. According to Fill, Russell and McKenzie were battling to see who will play at first and second singles and Harrah may play at second singles or third singles.

"They all have better skills than they've had in years past," Fill said. "I like all three of them. They play smart and I'm looking for good seasons out of our singles courts."

Senior Keith McBride and junior James Petit are at first doubles and senior Spencer Morris and sophomore Alex Potts are at second doubles. South has 13 players in all, but aside from the seven on varsity, the remaining six are new to the sport. As a result, Fill hopes the injury bug doesn't return.

"We can't have anybody get hurt," Fill said. "I have seven guys as well as sophomore Logan Geyer, but he has a little experience."

•North first-year coach C.J. Simmons might be in a new role, but he is a familiar face to the Warriors. A volunteer assistant coach for North last season, Simmons replaced Martin Huedepohl, who spent the past three seasons coaching the Warriors, compiling an 11-33 record.

Last season, North was 3-8 overall and seventh in the OCC-Cardinal at 1-6 with eight points.

"I know most of the guys and I got to see how much they improved this year," Simmons said. "They know my style and what I think is important. We've emphasized fitness this year and they all seem to be on board with that."

Two of North's three graduated players were from the singles courts. As a result, seniors Daniel Branaghan and Dakota Regan are battling for first and second singles and junior Nick Koleske will play third singles.

At doubles, seniors Mike Brooks and Derek Windt comprise one team and junior Kevin Baum and sophomore Blake Brewer comprise the other. Which pairing will be first doubles and which will be second has yet to be determined.

"They're going back and fourth," Simmons said. "Right now, we're looking for consistency and guys not making unforced errors."


At a glance

CENTRAL

Coach: Brian Arnett, seventh season Next match: Today vs. Pickerington Central Key players: Luke Buchanan, Blake Byrns and Alex Farabaugh

NORTH

Coach: C.J. Simmons, first season Next match: Today vs. Olentangy Orange Key players: Daniel Branaghan, Nick Koleske and Dakota Regan

SOUTH

Coach: John Fill, 35th season Next match: April 9-10 at Rocky River Invitational Key players: Ian Harrah, Bryan McKenzie and Graham Russell

Schedules


CENTRAL

*March 31 vs. Westerville South April 1 vs. Pickerington Central *April 12 at Westerville North *April 13 vs. Marysville April 14 at Hilliard Davidson April 15 vs. Grove City April 17 at Westerville South's Raica Invitational April 19 vs. Village Academy *April 20 at Dublin Scioto April 21 vs. Thomas Worthington *April 22 at Olentangy April 26 at Mount Vernon *April 27 vs. Olentangy Liberty April 28 at Hilliard Bradley April 29 vs. Pickerington North *May 4 at Dublin Jerome May 5 at Newark May 8 at OCC-Cardinal tournament (TBA) May 10 vs. Worthington Christian May 11 at Big Walnut

NORTH

March 29 vs. St. Charles *April 1 vs. Olentangy Orange *April 12 vs. Westerville Central *April 13 at Dublin Scioto April 16 vs. Village Academy April 17 at Westerville South's Raica Invitational *April 19 at Dublin Jerome *April 20 vs. Olentangy Liberty *April 22 at Westerville South April 23 vs. Newark April 24 at Teays Valley Tournament *April 27 vs. Marysville April 28 at Lancaster April 29 vs. Big Walnut May 3 at Grove City *May 4 at Olentangy May 5 vs. Mount Vernon May 6 at Reynoldsburg May 8 at OCC-Cardinal tournament (TBA) May 11 at Thomas Worthington

SOUTH

March 29 at Groveport *March 31 at Westerville Central April 9-10 at Rocky River Invitational April 12 vs. Delaware April 15 at Big Walnut April 17 at home Raica Invitational *April 19 vs. Dublin Scioto *April 20 at Marysville April 21 vs. Village Academy *April 22 vs. Westerville North *April 27 vs. Olentangy April 29 at Grove City April 30 at Newark *May 4 at Olentangy Liberty *May 5 vs. Dublin Jerome May 8 at OCC-Cardinal tournament (TBA) May 11 at Mount Vernon May 12 vs. Briggs

*OCC-Cardinal match