How well the Thomas Worthington High School girls tennis team does in the OCC-Central Division tournament Saturday at Upper Arlington might be determined by who the Cardinals draw in the first round.

How well the Thomas Worthington High School girls tennis team does in the OCC-Central Division tournament Saturday at Upper Arlington might be determined by who the Cardinals draw in the first round.

"A lot of how we do is out of our hands," said senior Rachel Webb, who is 9-4 overall and 3-1 in the OCC at the third-singles slot. "You have to come prepared and play whoever they tell you to play. Even if you're playing a really challenging (opponent), you can't give up just because they're a strong player."

"Any team in the Central Division is going to be good competition," said coach Tyler Stephen, whose team was 7-8 and had a four-match win streak end with a 4-1 loss to Pickerington North last Monday. "We know that Coffman, Upper Arlington and Kilbourne are all good teams. You have to come out ready to play."

Last year, Upper Arlington (7-0, 80 points) breezed to the title, finishing ahead of Kilbourne (5-2, 62), Dublin Coffman (6-1, 57), Hilliard Davidson (3-4, 43), Hilliard Darby (3-4, 39) and Thomas (3-4, 34). Westland (1-6, 11) and Central Crossing (0-7, 1) rounded out the bottom of the league, but neither competed this fall after the failure of the South-Western City School's levy.

Upper Arlington remains the team to beat. With matches remaining against Hilliard Davidson and Dublin Coffman, the Bears are 3-0 in the league with the maximum 18 points.

Webb, who placed fifth at second singles in the OCC tournament last year, was part of the Cardinals' 2007 OCC-Central championship team. In 2007, she and graduate Pam Ban lost to North's Nisha Rao and Katie Whittington 6-1, 6-2 to finish second at first doubles as the Cardinals scored 53 points to edge Pickerington North (51).

"The atmosphere of the tournament is a lot different. It takes a while to get comfortable with it," Webb said. "No matter who you draw, you really need to focus and do your best because you don't really get a second chance."

The Cardinals' hot stretch included 3-2 victories over Westerville Central on Sept. 10, Reynoldsburg on Sept. 16 and Upper Arlington B on Sept. 19.

"The main thing about this group is that they figured out it's no longer OK to lose," Stephen said. "We've told that to them again and again and they finally got sick of hearing it. They've taken that attitude and have a nice little run going into the tournament. Hopefully that will continue."

Kilbourne coach Bobbie Davis hopes Kristen Cellentani will be back at full strength when the Wolves compete in the OCC-Central tournament. Cellentani is slowly coming around after being bruised in a car accident two weeks ago.

Without Cellentani, the Wolves were 0-4, losing non-conference matches to Gahanna, Pickerington Central and Hilliard Bradley by 3-2 scores, as well as a league match to Dublin Coffman 4-1.

Cellentani returned with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Yuji Kim in a 4-1 win over Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 23.

"When Kristen is out there, all of the courts seem to play better," Davis said. "When she wasn't in the lineup, we didn't play our best tennis. We seemed to be out of sorts."

Last year Cellentani defeated Upper Arlington's Adrienne Jenq 6-7 (7-3) 6-4, 6-2 to win the second-singles title, and Sonya Subramaniam (first singles) finished third to help Kilbourne vault past Coffman into second place.

Davis thinks the Wolves are ready to show their potential at the league tournament.

"It's nice to know we're back at full strength," Davis said. "Subramaniam and Cellentani are starting to peak and, after 13 matches, Kelly Jiang is no longer a freshman. If we get some good draws and play our best, we should be able to improve our position."

At a glance

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

KILBOURNE

Sept. 10 -- Defeated Pickerington North 3-2

Sept. 15 -- Lost to Gahanna 3-2

Sept. 16 -- Lost to Pickerington Central 3-2

Sept. 17 -- Lost to Hilliard Bradley 3-2

*Sept. 22 -- Lost to Dublin Coffman 4-1

*Sept. 23 -- Def. Hilliard Davidson 4-1

*Last Tuesday -- Played Thomas Worthington

Today -- At Dublin Scioto in match rescheduled from Sept. 21 because of bad weather

*Saturday -- OCC-Central tournament at Upper Arlington

Tuesday -- Home vs. Watterson

Wednesday -- At Bexley

Of note: The Wolves were 6-7 overall and 2-2 in OCC before last Tuesday.

THOMAS

Sept. 9 -- Lost to Pickerington North 4-1

Sept. 10 -- Def. Westerville Central 3-2

Sept. 12 -- Tied Reynoldsburg for third (14) behind champion New Albany (32) in Reynoldsburg Magazine Doubles Classic

*Sept. 15 -- Def. Hilliard Darby 5-0

Sept. 16 -- Def. Reynoldsburg 3-2

Sept. 19 -- Def. New Albany B 3-2

Last Monday -- Lost to Pickerington North 4-1 in match rescheduled from Sept. 24 because of bad weather

*Last Tuesday -- Played Worthington Kilbourne

Last Wednesday -- Played Westerville North

Saturday -- OCC-Central tournament at Upper Arlington

Tuesday -- At Pickerington Central

Of note: The Cardinals were 7-8 overall before last Tuesday and 2-2 in OCC-Central.

*OCC-Central match