Bryan Yoshino is hoping his temporary excursion a year ago lives up to its name this spring for the Dublin Coffman High School boys tennis team.
After back-to-back appearances in the Division I state tournament in 2014 and '15 in singles, Yoshino moved to Naples, Florida, after the first semester of his junior year so that he could attend Tough Tennis Academy.
Now back with Coffman as a senior, he's hoping to end his prep career with his best season to date.
Among the coaches at Tough Tennis Academy is Jesse Witten, a Naples native who competed in five grand slam tournaments during his professional career.
"He's a great coach, and I learned a lot," Yoshino said. "I just feel like I improved my tennis going there. I got to work on everything."
While in Florida, Yoshino took academic classes online and lived with his grandparents, Mark and Annie Bates. He moved back to Dublin last summer so that he could finish his prep career at Coffman.
Yoshino has committed to play for Kenyon College, a Division III program that has been ranked in the top 25 nationally by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association all season and has won 73 consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference matches.
Yoshino plans to major in economics and minor in music.
"It's definitely good to be back," he said. "My favorite part of tennis is being on a team. I knew for sure that I'd be (coming back to) Coffman this year. I've been training two to three times a week at Ohio State and I've been feeling really good. I really missed being a part of Coffman's team."
Coffman was 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central Crossing on April 18.
The Shamrocks opened league play April 13 with a 5-0 victory over Marysville after matches April 6 at home against Hilliard Davidson and April 11 at Westland were postponed.
Yoshino was 3-1 entering the Central Crossing match, with his loss coming against Olentangy's Stu Brdicka on April 10, 7-6, 6-1. Brdicka reached state in doubles in 2015 but lost in the second round at district in singles last spring.
The Shamrocks lost to the Braves and Massillon Jackson on April 15 by 3-2 scores, but Yoshino won his match over Jackson's Danny Thomas 6-2, 6-2 at first singles.
Thomas made state in doubles last season and is the brother of last year's state champion, Joey Thomas, a 2016 Jackson graduate who beat Yoshino 6-2, 6-3 in the first round at state in 2014.
In 2015, Yoshino won a district title and reached the second round of state, where he lost to eventual third-place finisher Nathan Griffin of Cleveland St. Ignatius 7-6, 1-6, 6-2.
In addition to Brdicka, Yoshino figures to be among the area's top singles players along with Upper Arlington senior Jack Zelezny, New Albany senior Graeme Green and Hilliard Bradley senior Mitchell Thai, each of whom was a state qualifier in singles last season.
"He looks real good so far," coach Brett Hundertpfund said of Yoshino. "He's gotten stronger. He's got a little more power behind his serve this year and I think he's a little bit quicker. He's worked hard and stepped up his game."
Defense steps up for
girls lacrosse team
Despite entering the season with little returning experience on defense, the girls lacrosse team has made steady progress in that area thus far.
Junior Riley McGraw and sophomore Renae Tonon have led the way defensively for the Shamrocks, who were 4-3 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Marysville on April 18.
"Our defense is coming along," coach Michael Murphy said. "We're deflecting more passes and causing more turnovers each game. Bright spots have been the play of Riley McGraw, (who is) setting the tone on defense with her aggressive, consistent play, and Renae Tonon, (who is) leading the team in caused turnovers."
Coffman opened league action with a 14-6 win over Davidson on April 6 but gave up its highest goal total through seven games in a 16-12 loss to Pickerington Central on April 11.
The Shamrocks continue league play Tuesday, April 25 at Gahanna, which was 6-1 before playing Central on April 18.
Through seven games, Delaney Murray was leading Coffman in goals with 22, followed by AnnaMarie Guth (17), Tonon (15), Lexi Piekarski (12) and Elyse Gleeson (11).
"On the offensive end, we need to do a better job handling the ball to cut down our unforced turnovers and turn more of the chances into shots on goal," Murphy said. "As we go into a tough stretch of the schedule, we're hoping to continue the trend of causing turnovers on the defensive end while cutting down the unforced errors on the offensive end, ideally resulting in more shots on goal."
Baseball team seeks
Although it lost a pair of non-league games to its community rivals last week, the baseball team has been more fortunate in league play.
The Shamrocks lost to Jerome 7-5 on April 13, Scioto 6-1 on April 14 and Central Crossing 4-2 on April 17 and were 6-6 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Central before playing Hilliard Davidson on April 18.
Coach Tim Saunders has been searching for consistent pitching to complement his top two starters, senior Cal Haefke and junior Marcus Ernst.
"Overall, I'm pretty pleased with our overall start to the year," Saunders said. "We had a wonderful trip to Florida over spring break. Our hitting and our defense have been steady and have been a pleasant surprise, but I thought our pitching would be better than we've seen, so that has been a disappointment. Our pitchers are capable but aren't throwing strikes and are getting behind in the count. ... We're hoping a couple of guys step up soon."
Haefke (P/C/3B), Ernst (P/SS) and junior Alex Werth (1B) have led the way offensively for the Shamrocks, who couldn't hold on to a 4-0 lead against Jerome, as they gave up three runs apiece in the fifth and sixth innings.
Against Scioto, Coffman allowed four first-inning runs and managed just one run despite having eight hits.
Including Yoshino, six senior student-athletes announced their college decisions April 12.
In men's lacrosse, Wiley Phelps and Ike Phelps will play for Wooster and Andrew Boyle will play for Capital.
In women's track and field, Wambui Watene will compete for Ball State and Megan Cam-eron will compete for Cornell.