Despite losing six players to graduation, the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team is hoping to build on last year's improvement.
The Cardinals finished 6-8 overall last season, doubling their win total from 2012, when they went 3-12.
Thomas, which was 0-2 before opening OCC-Central Division play April 8 against Upper Arlington, has six seniors on its roster this season, but only three of those players have varsity experience.
"I have seen teams that had first-year varsity players stepping into huge roles and having success in their only season on varsity. When you have a good number of upperclassmen, it happens," third-year coach David Albert said. "Next year, we will have to do the same thing.
"Achieving more success means you have to get your junior varsity players ready to step into roles next year when these seniors graduate."
The returning seniors are Sam Chen, Zach Graham and Nick Meyer.
"Nick Meyer and Sam Chen will play primarily singles, but everyone else could potentially play anywhere in the lineup," said Albert, whose team opened April 1 with a 5-0 loss to Columbus Academy and lost to Wellington 4-1 on April 2. "We won't have a set lineup every day. That will depend on what team we're playing and who's playing well."
Also on the team are seniors Isak Ahlqvist, Ben Nichols and Sam Owen, junior Ashish Vankara, sophomore Chris Chia and freshmen Luke Bobay and Myung Ho Chung. Chia is a returning letterwinner.
"The strength of the team is our versatility," Albert said. "Chris Chia, Zach Graham and Ashish Vankara can really play anywhere. Their all-around game can be used in any situation."
Meyer is the lone returnee who competed in the postseason last year. He lost in the first round of the Division I sectional at Hilliard Davidson. The Cardinals did not have any district qualifiers last season.
Thomas, which finished fifth (36 points, 3-4) in the OCC-Central last year behind champion Upper Arlington (81, 7-0), was scheduled to begin league play against Central Crossing on April 3, but the match was postponed because of bad weather.
Wolves return wealth of experience
Kilbourne has returned six starters and none of those players are seniors, giving 15th-year coach Steve Metzmaier high hopes for this season and next.
The returnees are juniors Steven Borchers and George Liu and sophomores Rohan Gupta, Keaton Quinn, Dhruv Taneja and Eric Wang.
Borchers, Gupta and Liu were Division I district qualifiers last season in doubles. Gupta and 2013 graduate Jack Klein lost in the first round at district, as did Borchers and Liu.
Klein, who was Kilbourne's only senior last season, played first singles during the regular season a year ago and Gupta played second singles. Taneja fell one win shy of advancing to district in singles last season.
Junior Jacob Self also is a returning letterwinner.
"Our strength will be our overall depth, especially in singles," Metzmaier said. "We do need to improve our doubles, but I think we will once we get outside for an extended period of time."
Others vying for playing time are seniors Will Givens Akil Gore, Lucky Shaut and Jack Wylie, junior Sam Morrone and sophomores Kyle Huffman and Daniel Stoicea.
Kilbourne placed third (55, 5-2) in the OCC-Cardinal last season behind Dublin Jerome (75, 7-0) and Dublin Scioto (57, 5-2).
The Wolves are in the OCC-Capital this season with Big Walnut, Delaware, Franklin Heights, Mount Vernon, New Albany, Olentangy and Olentangy Orange.
Kilbourne opened April 8 with a league match against Delaware. In addition, the Wolves play Thursday, April 10, at defending league champion New Albany.