At the beginning of the season, Wellington School boys tennis coach Dan Sebastian heard about a nationally ranked freshman from Upper Arlington and immediately started scanning the papers looking for his name in boxscores.
Sebastian was looking in the wrong place. Ian Wagner, the player in question, isn't playing for UA. He's playing first singles for Wellington.
"It was kind of interesting," Sebastian said. "I heard about this kid, and I just figured he was going to Upper Arlington. For about two weeks I'd been following their scores and seeing one of their returnees at No. 1. It finally dawned on me that the kid I was hearing so much about was Ian."
Wagner, who was ranked in the top 40 by the USTA when he was 12 and in the top 60 nationally when he moved into the boys 14-and-younger bracket, seemingly has had no problem adjusting to high school tennis. He won his first seven matches, losing only seven games in the process.
"I don't know if there's one thing that has been that difficult to adjust to," Wagner said. "I've never played for a school before so it's been fun to meet a bunch of new people. I like the unity of this team."
At 7-0 through seven team matches, Wellington needs just one more victory to equal its total from the last five years combined. It will face Upper Arlington B today.
"It's been fun," Sebastian said. "In my two years as coach we'd never beaten Darby and we'd never beaten Pickerington Central until this year. We've never beaten UA B, either, but I think maybe even this year we could challenge UA's A team."
Sebastian called Wagner his "aircraft carrier." His performances have been impressive on their own, but they also have served as a launching pad for the rest of the team.
"He's the whole armada," Sebastian said. "He makes everyone else better and you can always count on him. When you get a guy like him, it pushes the guy who would've been first singles down to second and that makes you stronger there. And the guy who would have been second singles is now at third.
"Ian is emerging as a leader, which can be hard when you are a freshman. I've seen it before when you have a freshman at first singles, sometimes the other kids can be jealous of him. But everyone has handled it well."
Wagner's grandfather, Herb La Tuchie, was a nationally ranked player and his parents, Norma and Chris Wagner, met on the tennis court. The family often goes to the US Open as a vacation.
"Tennis is fun," Wagner said. "I like it because it's more competitive than some other sports. You get to travel around during the summer and meet a lot of good players."
Wagner could do well in the Division II postseason. Last year's singles champion, Bryce Warren of DeSales, has graduated, as have those who finished third (Lovell Medcalf of Ironton) and fourth (Tyler Adams of Wheelersburg).
New Albany, which had two of the four state-qualifying doubles teams, now is in Division I.
"I was pretty excited to hear New Albany moved up," Wagner said. "(Peter Kobelt of New Albany) is pretty tough, but there are a lot of good guys still around. Columbus Academy's Will Petrie (last year's district runner-up) is pretty tough. I'd be happy if I just made it to state. I haven't thought about anything beyond that."
Freshman Ian Wagner, who won his first seven matches, said he enjoys the "unity" of playing on a team at Wellington.
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Wellington baseball, boys lacrosse, boys tennis, girls lacrosse and softball teams:
April 14 -- Lost to Jonathan Alder 13-0
April 15 -- Defeated Liberty Christian 9-5
April 17 -- Def. Fisher Catholic 11-10. The Jaguars scored six runs in the top of the seventh.
Last Friday -- Def Gahanna Christian 19-9. Chris O'Harra hit a three-run home run.
Last Monday -- Def. Shekinah Christian 4-3
Last Tuesday -- Played Liberty Union
Today -- Home vs. Fisher Catholic
Saturday -- At Northside Classic
Monday -- Home vs. Marion Franklin
Tuesday -- At Franklin Heights
May 1 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
Of note: The Jaguars were 5-6 before last Tuesday.
Last Friday -- Def. Green 8-2. Chris King and Ted Emery scored three goals.
Last Tuesday -- Played Johnstown
Last Wednesday -- Played Bexley
Monday -- Home vs. Watterson.
Of note: The Jaguars were 2-1 before last Tuesday.
April 14 -- Def. Worthington Christian 5-0
April 17 -- Def. DeSales 4-1
Today -- Home vs. Upper Arlington B
Monday -- At Village Academy
Of note: The Jaguars are 7-0.
April 16 -- Def. Hartley 15-6. Laura Wilkie scored four goals and Brooke O'Brien and Leah Lynn had three.
April 17 -- Def. Hilliard Davidson 17-3. Wilkie scored six goals and O'Brien and Kara Concheck had three.
Last Tuesday -- Played Academy
Today -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
Saturday -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls
Monday -- At Westerville North
May 1 -- At Westerville Central
Of note: The Jaguars were 7-1 before last Tuesday.
April 14 -- Def. Independence 15-8
April 15 -- Def. Liberty Christian 15-2. Jennifer Haas threw a one-hitter.
April 17 -- Def. Beechcroft 15-8. The Jaguars scored five runs in the bottom of the third to go up 8-3.
Last Saturday -- Def. Mifflin 36-8 and 9-1. In the first game, Kristi Olesik and Allie Skapik hit three-run home runs. In the second game, Olesik hit a two-run home run.
Last Tuesday -- Played West
Today -- Home vs. Worthington Christian
Saturday -- At Beechcroft (doubleheader)
Monday -- Home vs. Mifflin
May 1 -- Home vs. Briggs
Of note: The Jaguars were 8-2 before last Tuesday.