After having played doubles together the past three seasons, Michael Carrico and Terrell Dixon of the Westland High School boys tennis team wanted to give singles a try this spring.
The seniors have been alternating at first and second singles.
"I felt like it was finally time to play singles because I'm a senior," Carrico said.
The Cougars were 2-11 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Upper Arlington on May 2. They failed to win a court in six of their losses, including the five league matches.
"We're a young team, but we're getting better," Carrico said.
Westland's victories have come against Hamilton Township (3-2 on April 19) and Mifflin (4-1 on April 26). Winning against Mifflin were Dixon at first singles, freshman Roman Novikov at third singles, sophomores Grant Bare and Jonathan Marshall at first doubles and sophomores Zach Prak and Bryan Moreno at second doubles.
Through 13 matches, Dixon was 2-10 and Carrico was 0-12.
"Both were ready to play singles," coach Dan Witteman said. "In the OCC, you're going to play good players all the time and you become a better tennis player. It's not good that they lose, but they're doing something they can do the rest of their life."
Witteman, who is in his 42nd season leading the program, said the records don't show how much Carrico and Dixon have improved since the start of the season.
"This is their first year to play singles," he said. "Even at the beginning of the year, they couldn't rally like they are now."
Both players credit Witteman for their improvement.
"He was a very good coach for me, the best coach I've ever had," said Carrico, who is team captain. "Coach told me I should play tennis and I said I would give it a try and I fell in love with it. Coach is a great teacher."
"I wouldn't have been a varsity tennis player at the level I am now without him teaching me all the things I know," Dixon said.
Westland, which lost to Dublin Coffman 5-0 in an OCC-Central match April 30, will play host to Central Crossing on Tuesday, May 7, in its final league dual. The Cougars will compete in the league tournament Saturday, May 11, at UA.
"In the OCC, there's no easy match," Witteman said. "Ultimately, hopefully (our players) will become better tennis players. I see them better right now."
The Cougars defeated Central Crossing 4-1 last season.
"(The players have) come together as a team," Witteman said. "I'd like to think that I'm teaching tennis. That's a huge part of this job. I don't know about other high schools, but I know at Westland High School it is."
Baseball team still struggling for wins
Victories have been hard to come by this spring for the baseball team, which was 1-20 overall and 0-10 in the OCC-Central and had a 15-game losing streak before playing Dublin Coffman on May 2.
However, the Cougars have been competitive in some recent games, including a 3-2 loss to Coffman on April 26 and a 5-2 loss to Upper Arlington on May 1.
Westland scored a run in the top of the fifth inning against Coffman to tie the game at 2, but the Shamrocks scored the decisive run in the bottom of the inning. Against UA, the Cougars tied the game at 2 with a run in the top of the fourth inning, but the Golden Bears scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
"We're frustrated but always hopeful," coach Dave Daniels said. "The boys play together and try. Sometimes we're competitive. If we improve our hitting, we will improve dramatically."
Westland had a .193 team batting average through 21 games.
Senior Korey Browning (P/INF) was batting a team-high .313 and was leading the team with eight RBI.
Track teams finish third at Grove City
Both the boys and girls track and field teams won two events and finished third in a tri-meet April 30.
The boys team scored 27 points to finish behind Groveport (74.5) and host Grove City (66.5), with sophomore Seth Farmer winning the 1,600 meters in 4 minutes, 45 seconds and the 1,600 relay finishing first in 3:33.
The girls team scored 32 points to finish behind Grove City (90) and Groveport (47), with freshman Elizabeth Finley winning the 3,200 in 14:26 and the 3,200 relay finishing first in 11:32.
"Our boys team had a great victory (in a tri-meet) at Central Crossing (on April 23), but let one slip away from us with our tri-meet with Grove City and Groveport (last) week," coach Tim Eckard said. "Our girls team is still getting better and is becoming more competitive at the varsity level. We are so young across the board that we are still learning how to close teams out and how to prepare ourselves mentally and physically for the demands of a long track season."