For Mitchell Thai, tennis is as much about family as it is competition.
The senior singles player for the Hilliard Bradley High School boys tennis team has grown up around the sport and wants to make his mark by winning a second state championship for his family.
Thai qualified for the Division I state tournament the past two seasons, but didn't get past the second round. This season, he wants to take that next step and join his sister, Lauren Thai, and his cousin, Ashley Thai, who teamed to win a Division II girls state doubles title for Bradley in 2010.
"I have always been around tennis and I look at it as being part of our family," Thai said. "We grew up going to my grandparents' house, and they have a tennis court. My parents and uncles and aunts were playing tennis and, when we were kids, we would get the balls. I have been playing since I was 3 years old. Tennis has always been a part of my life."
It's been a successful part of his life, as Thai is 19-0 this season and 86-6 for his prep career.
He has lost only one regular-season match since stepping onto the first singles court as a freshman. He lost to Upper Arlington's Jack Zelezny 6-2, 6-3 during the regular season last year, but rebounded to defeat Zelezny 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) in the district final.
Thai will go for his second consecutive district championship Thursday, May 18, at Davidson and Saturday, May 20, at UA.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state May 26 and 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"I have known Jack for a long time and we have played each other forever, but he's playing doubles this year (in the postseason)," said Thai, who won his fourth consecutive sectional title May 11 and 13 at Davidson. "There are still a lot of good players out there, like (New Albany's) Robert Cash. It's going to be fun."
Thai, who defeated Cash 6-4, 6-7, 10-6 on May 1 in the Jaguars' 4-1 loss to New Albany, has committed to play for Denison University.
"It's not as much pressure since I have decided go to Denison," Thai said. "I used to put a lot of pressure on myself trying to prove myself. I don't feel like I have anything to prove now and I go out and play."
Coach Donna Long said Thai not only is more relaxed on the court this season, but also is more patient.
"Mitchell used to be so impatient, but now he uses more of the tools he has in his box," Long said. "He really has improved his net game and worked on his serve in the offseason."
Thai was the only Bradley player to reach district.
"This my last chance," he said. "My goal was to win state and add to my family heritage. It's part of our family history."
for track teams
The track and field teams are competing in the Division I district meet this week.
The boys are in district 4 at Westerville South, which began May 16 with field events, continues Thursday, May 18, with running preliminaries and concludes Saturday, May 20, with running finals. The girls are in district 2 at Darby, which began May 16 with field events, continued May 17 with running preliminaries and concludes May 20 with running finals.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North. The top four in each regional event advance to state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
The Jaguars competed in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet May 11 and May 13 at Dublin Coffman.
The boys team finished third (85 points) behind Thomas Worthington (192) and Darby (155) and ahead of Dublin Jerome (75.5), Delaware (51), Dublin Scioto (44.5) and Worthington Kilbourne (22).
Tyler Lewright finished second in the 400 meters (50.84 seconds) and was on the runner-up 1,600 relay (3:30.8) with Ethan Pearson, Cullen Bober and Said Saleh. He also was on the third-place 800 relay (1:31.48) with Saleh, Matthew Drovdlic and Kory Taylor.
Also placing third were the 3,200 relay of Pearson, Rob McCabe, Franklin Fiqueroa and Alex Lewis (8:05.07), the 400 relay of Saleh, Taylor, Drovdlic and Jacob Barkheimer (44.33) and Taylor in the 100 (11.07).
The girls team finished fifth (51) behind Darby (189), Thomas (143), Scioto (91) and Delaware (72) and ahead of Kilbourne (44) and Jerome (41).
Placing third for the Jaguars were Isabella Brooks in the 3,200 (11:57.31), Regan Corea in the 1,600 (5:25.73), Alexis Richards in the 200 (26.23) and Shelby Schroeder in the discus (111 feet, 7 inches).
Baseball team reaches
The baseball team reached its first district semifinal in Division I and third overall.
The Jaguars also reached Division II district semifinals in 2010 and 2011, but have never won a district title.
Seeded 15th, Bradley had a first-round bye and beat 17th-seeded St. Charles 9-0 in the second round May 10. The Jaguars were 16-12 before playing seventh-seeded Gahanna in a district semifinal May 16.
The winner plays third-seeded Olentangy or ninth-seeded Mount Vernon in a district final Thursday, May 18, at a neutral site that had yet to be determined as of May 15. The Jaguars have not played either team this season.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 25 at Dublin Coffman.
Against St. Charles, Tyler Lehman doubled and singled to drive in three runs and pitched a complete game, scattering eight hits. Jack Rasmussen had two singles with two RBI, and Andrew Charley and Tim Miles both had two singles and one RBI.
Softball team moves
on to district final
Behind a perfect game by Lexie Hilling and a solo home run by Jaiden Bryant, the softball team defeated 11th-seeded Watkins Memorial 2-0 in a Division I district semifinal May 15 at Olentangy.
The eighth-seeded Jaguars improved to 22-4 overall and advanced to play top-seeded Pickerington Central in a district final Friday, May 19, or Saturday, May 20, at Central. The Jaguars have not played the Tigers this season.
The district champion plays Teays Valley or Mount Vernon in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 24, at Ohio State. Bradley has not played either team this season. The regional final is May 27 at Ohio State.
Bradley opened its postseason by defeating 21st-seeded UA 8-1 in the second round May 10. Hilling threw a four-hitter and Bryant hit a two-run home run.
for boys lacrosse team
The boys lacrosse team opened the Division I, Region 3 tournament with a second-round game against fourth-seeded Davidson on May 17.
The 13th-seeded Jaguars were 3-14 entering the postseason.
The winner plays host to fifth-seeded New Albany or 12th-seeded Westerville Central in a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 20. That winner plays at top-seeded UA, sixth-seeded Westerville North, ninth-seeded Scioto or 18th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 24.
The regional final is May 27.
The Jaguars lost to New Albany 11-4 on April 1 and lost to Scioto 6-3 on April 6.
Boys volleyball team
to open postseason
The boys volleyball team is seeded 11th of 18 teams in the Division I East Region tournament and will play 14th-seeded Westerville South in a play-in match Friday, May 19, at Westerville Central or Westerville North.
The winner plays ninth-seeded Pickerington North in a first-round match Saturday, May 20, at Olentangy. That winner faces third-seeded Olentangy or 13th-seeded UA in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 23, at Westerville South.
The regional final is May 26.
Girls lacrosse falls
in tourney opener
The girls lacrosse team opened the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 15 with a 15-6 first-round loss to fourth-seeded Watterson.
The 11th-seeded Jaguars finished 4-15.
Maddy Conklin scored five goals in a 14-10 win over Davidson on May 10 in Bradley's regular-season finale. Samy Vawter added four goals and Casey Mignery scored three. Goalkeeper Ali Phillipi had 10 saves.