Wolves entering postseason in high gear
Worthington Kilbourne High School girls tennis coach Ken Berlin is hoping the momentum his players have gained in the second half of the regular season carries over to the postseason.
The Wolves will compete in the Division I sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Reynoldsburg.
"We're playing our best tennis of the season right now and that's all you can ask for is to be firing on all cylinders," Berlin said. "I like our draw and I think we have a reasonable chance to get some girls to district."
The top four finishers in singles and doubles at each of the four sectional sites -- the others are Hilliard Davidson, Pickerington Central and Upper Arlington -- advance to district Oct. 12 and 13 at Davidson.
Sophomore Kelley Jiang is seeded fourth in singles in the Reynoldsburg sectional behind New Albany's Carol Vitellas (first), Chillicothe's Taylor Sprouse (second) and New Albany's Jane Haffer (third) and opens against New Albany's Priyal Reddy.
"The seeding was real close and I think there is going to be a number of really competitive matches in singles," Berlin said. "It could be one of those crazy sectionals where you are seeded third or fourth and (then) be a top seed at district."
Also competing in singles are senior Jenna Towslee, who opens against Watkins Memorial's Breanna Lampron, and freshman Erica Chen, who plays Olentangy Orange's Madison Riley in the first round.
Jiang (first singles) and Chen (second singles) both finished third in the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Sept. 29 at Hilliard Bradley and Towslee (third singles) finished fourth.
The best showing for the Wolves in the league tournament was turned in by the first-doubles team of seniors Tori Deibel and Alex Malone, who reached the final before losing to Dublin Jerome's Ellee Bullock and Rhiannon James 6-0, 6-0 to finish second.
Deibel and Malone have a first-round bye at sectional and will play Pickerington North's Melody Liu and Kelsie Weinstein or Chillicothe's Courtney Berry and Ellen Schmidt in the second round. Fourth-seeded Jessica Phelps and Madison Wolfe of Orange likely would be their opponent in a district-qualifying match.
"I think they have a decent chance if they play like they're capable of playing," Berlin said. "They're playing very well right now and their confidence should be high after the OCCs. They need to ride that momentum."
Also competing in doubles at sectional are sophomore Elizabeth Borchers and freshman Anna Zellar, who face Watkins Memorial's Cheyenne Fletcher and Megan Jamison in the opening round.
Borchers and Zellar finished third in the OCC-Cardinal tournament at second doubles.
The Wolves scored 25 points in the league tournament to finish third, behind Jerome (38) and Bradley (27) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (24), Hilliard Darby (12), Westerville Central (10), Westerville South (7) and Westerville North (2).
Kilbourne also finished third (50, 5-2) in the final OCC-Cardinal standings, behind champion Jerome (72, 7-0) and Bradley (55, 6-1) and ahead of Scioto (47, 4-3), Darby (22, 2-5), Central (17, 1-6), South (13, 1-6) and North (10, 2-5).
Cardinals set for sectional tourney
Thomas Worthington will compete in the sectional at UA.
"I think we've got a pretty good draw overall, one that gives the girls a chance to go out there and compete," coach Jill Fergus said. "Whether or not that will mean we can get anyone to district, I'm not sure. Right now, we're just talking about going out there and doing our absolute best. If we do that, we'll be happy.
"We've shown constant improvement. We just got better and better all season. We didn't have anyone advance to district last season, and, yes, that's the ultimate goal. But as long as we play our best, that is the most important thing."
In first-round singles matches at sectional, junior Kathy Zhang faces Gahanna's Hannah Sobul, senior Essi Mignanou plays Scioto's Susma Rai and junior Monica Chang faces UA's Emma Klebe.
If they advance to the second round, Zhang would meet top-seeded Sydney Power of Olentangy Liberty, Mignanou likely would play third-seeded Alexia Meyer of Liberty and Chang would play Scioto's Prachi Bansal or Westerville Central's Autumn Ramsey.
"I'm interested to see how Monica does against (Klebe)," Fergus said. "I really think that will be a great match. I think Essi has a chance to advance and I think they all can win at least one match."
In doubles at sectional, senior Achinthya Sivalinggam and sophomore Molly Maxwell will face Franklin Heights' Katie Welch and Karina Jarrell in the opening round. Sophomore Elizabeth Chiu and freshman Marriella Briones have a first-round bye and will play Briggs' Veronica Yang and Samantha Minn or Franklin Heights' Salena Eng and Caroline Parffitt in the second round and likely would face fourth-seeded Emily Merickel and Elizabeth Sullivan of Gahanna in a district-qualifying match.
Sivalinggam and Maxwell would play Briggs' Lynise Morgan and Veena Phommarath in the second round, with second-seeded Andi Smart and Beniva Ganther of UA looming as their likely opponent in a district-qualifying match.
"Elizabeth Chiu and Marriella Briones have been really solid together; I think they're like 6-2 as a team," Fergus said. "They're communicating very well."
The Cardinals finished fifth (14) in the OCC-Central tournament Sept. 29 at Davidson, behind UA (40), Dublin Coffman (27), Liberty (27) and Davidson (21) and ahead of Marysville (11), Central Crossing (3) and Westland (2).
Thomas finished fifth (31, 3-4) in the final league standings, behind UA (80, 7-0), Liberty (61, 6-1), Coffman (61, 5-2) and Davidson (45, 4-3) and ahead of Marysville (23, 2-5). Central Crossing (4, 0-6) and Westland (2, 0-6) played a league match Oct. 2 to determine seventh.