Sonya Subramaniam of the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls tennis team remembers well her mother, Radha, standing there, waiting to congratulate her after she was runner-up at second singles at the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament two years ago as a freshman.

Sonya Subramaniam of the Worthington Kilbourne High School girls tennis team remembers well her mother, Radha, standing there, waiting to congratulate her after she was runner-up at second singles at the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament two years ago as a freshman.

Subramaniam, who was third at first singles a year ago, was 8-5 entering last Tuesday's match against Thomas Worthington. The Wolves will play in the OCC-Central tournament Saturday at Hilliard Davidson. But there will be no repeat of two years ago for Subramaniam.

Her mother died Jan. 7, after battling colon cancer for three years. Radha Subramaniam was 41.

"My mom was really funny," Subramaniam said. "She always had something to say at the end of my matches, whether it was something I did or didn't do well.

"It's bittersweet. It's difficult not having her here anymore, but at the same time it's better not to have her be sick anymore."

Radha was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2005 and appeared to have beaten the disease. In September 2006 her cancer came back, but again at the end of the season, she appeared to be cancer-free. But in September 2007, the cancer returned, which prevented Radha from seeing the entire OCC tournanment.

"It didn't ever go away," Subramaniam said. "It was kind of this, 'I don't want her to go through this again,' feeling. You're trying to think about OCC and the sectional, but it's really hard to worry about your next match when your family is going through this."

"In a lot of ways, tennis became secondary not only to Sonya but to the whole team," coach Bobbie Davis said. "Sonya's mom was a large part of our tennis family. All I wanted to do was support their family in any way that I could."

The Wolves learned to support each other. They learned what it means to battle. They learned a 3-2 loss is not the most devastating thing that can happen.

"You could see that fight in them last year, and that feeling has remained in the program," Davis said. "But at the same time, they really learned tennis is never the most important thing. You make every point important while you're out there, but it's never most important thing."

"Mom didn't make her illness an elephant in the room," Subramaniam said. "She'd say, 'You don't have to avoid talking about the disease or ignore the fact that I'm sick.'

"I know I can play tennis well and get good grades without her. But just not having her around is the hardest part. She wasn't just a mom, she was a friend. To not have her this year makes things really, really different."

•Thomas is looking forward to the OCC-Central tournament.

"We're in a pretty good position for the tournament," coach Sara Quart said. "This team has really progressed over the season and a lot of these girls are looking forward to playing some of the teams we face early in the season again."

Thomas tied Groveport and Olentangy Orange for sixth (1 point) behind champion New Albany (27) in the Reynoldsburg Magazine Double Invitational last Saturday.

"The OCC tournament can be a long day, but it's nice to have a tournament like the Reynoldsburg invitational before the league tournament so the girls are kind of prepared," Quart said. "The doubles invitational gave the girls a chance to study others and listen for the names be called to play, all the things they'll have to do at the OCC."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for Kilbourne and Thomas girls tennis teams:

KILBOURNE

*Sept. 2 -- Defeated Hilliard Davidson 5-0

Sept. 3 -- Def. Chillicothe 5-0

Sept. 4 -- Def. Dublin Scioto 4-1

*Sept. 9 -- Def. Central Crossing 5-0

Sept. 10 -- Lost to Watterson 5-0

Sept. 11 -- Def. Gahanna 4-1

Sept. 18 -- Lost to DeSales 4-1. Katie Emberger won at third singles.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Thomas Worthington

*Last Wednesday -- Played Dublin Coffman

Today -- Home vs. Pickerington North

*Saturday -- At OCC-Central tournament at Davidson

Of note: The Wolves were 10-5 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

THOMAS

Aug. 27 -- Lost to Olentangy Liberty 5-0

*Sept. 2 -- Def. Westland 5-0

Sept. 4 -- Lost to Pickerington North 5-0

*Sept. 9 -- Def. Hilliard Darby 3-2

Sept. 11 -- Lost to Westerville Central 5-0

Sept. 13 -- Tied Groveport and Olentangy Orange for sixth (1) behind champion New Albany (27) in eight-team Reynoldsburg Magazine Doubles Invitational

Sept. 17 -- Def. Orange 4-1. Libby Straub (first singles), Rachel Webb (second singles), Sarah Chadwell (third singles) and Shaadee Samimy and Alayne Meyer (first doubles) won.

Sept. 18 -- Lost to Reynoldsburg 4-1. Straub won

*Last Monday -- Def. Central Crossing 5-0

*Last Tuesday -- Played Kilbourne

Last Wednesday -- Played New Albany

*Saturday -- At OCC-Central tournament

Tuesday -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

Wednesday -- Home vs. Westerville North

Of note: The Cardinals were 4-9 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Central before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Central match