The Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team returns seven players from a year ago, when it finished 3-12 overall.
Second-year coach David Albert is hoping that experience translates to a winning season.
"We have a number of returning varsity players," Albert said. "We are more experienced and I think the results will show. We also have a lot of senior leadership.
"I would like the team to have an overall dual-match record above .500 and I would like to see us improve on our fifth-place finish in the conference last year."
The Cardinals return seniors Paul Bohorquez, Ted Carson, Daniel Cermak and Joshua Ong and juniors Sam Chen, Zach Graham and Nick Meyer.
Bohorquez returns at first singles and, according to Albert, Ong is expected to primarily play second singles after playing third singles last year, but he played doubles in the Cardinals' first two matches -- a 3-2 loss to Worthington Kilbourne on April 2 and a 3-2 win over Big Walnut on April 3.
"Paul Bohorquez can muscle people off the court with his pace and power," Albert said. "Josh Ong is the consistent, calm, collected player. He allows his opponents to make his mistakes for him."
Also on the team are seniors Jamie Burpee and Jesse Greene and freshman Chris Chia.
The Cardinals used the same lineup in the Kilbourne and Big Walnut matches, with Bohorquez at first singles, Meyer at second singles, Graham at third singles, Cermak and Ong at first doubles and Burpee and Chen at second doubles.
"I took 10 players for the varsity team and, realistically, I could have taken 14 guys, so that tells you about our depth," Albert said. "The bottom of the varsity lineup and top of our junior varsity lineup are very close in skill level. It was tough to differentiate between who would suit the varsity team better."
Last season, Thomas went 3-4 in OCC-Central Division matches and concluded the league tournament with 27 points to finish behind Upper Arlington (77, 7-0), Dublin Coffman (54, 6-1), Hilliard Davidson (44, 5-2) and Kilbourne (34, 4-3) and ahead of Darby (20, 2-5), Westland (9, 1-6) and Central Crossing (4, 0-7).
The league championship was UA's 30th in a row.
Thomas did not have any Division I state or district qualifiers a year ago.
"Upper Arlington will obviously finish on top," Albert said when asked about the OCC-Central. "They are probably one of the top teams, if not the top team, in the state. Dublin Coffman will probably be second. Then I believe it will be close between us, Olentangy Liberty and Hilliard Davidson. Surprises can always happen, though. We did not face Liberty or Marysville last year, so they can easily surprise me."
As part of OCC realignment last summer, Kilbourne and Darby moved to the OCC-Cardinal and were replaced by Liberty and Marysville.
Wolves' roster young but deep
Kilbourne returns four players from last season, when it finished 6-10 overall, in senior Jack Klein and sophomores Steven Borchers, George Liu and Jacob Self.
Last year, Klein and Liu played singles and Borchers and Self played doubles.
"This year, my team is deeper and a lot younger," 14th-year coach Steve Metzmaier said. "The lineup has one senior, two sophomores and four freshmen. All of my top seven players play year-round and are involved with area tournaments."
Metzmaier expects freshman Rohan Gupta to play second singles, behind Klein. But in the Wolves' first two matches, Gupta played first singles with Klein out of the lineup. Also in the lineup in the win over Thomas and a 5-0 win over Olentangy Orange on April 4 were freshman Eric Wang at second singles, Liu at third singles, freshmen Keaton Quinn and Dhruv Taneja at first doubles and Borchers and junior Jack Wylie at second doubles.
"I have no firm doubles combinations yet, but I think Steven Borchers and Dhruv Taneja will play doubles," Metzmaier said.
Last season, Kilbourne did not have any Division I state or district qualifiers and placed fourth in the OCC-Central. Joining the Wolves in the OCC-Cardinal this season are Darby, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Hilliard Bradley, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South.
"I think Jerome and Scioto will be the top teams in the league, with us right behind," Metzmaier said.