Jack Zelezny of the Upper Arlington High School boys tennis team was no stranger to the Division I state tournament, having advanced in each of his four years as a Golden Bear.
That was part of the reason he wasn't shaken when he and doubles partner Josh Cole were on the verge of falling behind Cincinnati Sycamore's Noah Stern and Nathan Zhang in the first set of the state final May 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"We were pretty much on serve (in the state final). We were down 0-40 on their serve that would have put them up 5-4 and we held on to win the first set," Zelezny said. "Most of our matches in the first sets have been tough, but we have confidence in our ability. Once we figured out what works and what doesn't, we can implement it. I feel like we're able to dominate points at the net."
Cole and Zelezny dominated each of their four matches at state, winning eight consecutive sets to capture the championship. They defeated Stern and Zhang 6-4, 6-2 to win UA's 18th doubles title and its 24th title overall.
"We had to try and approach it like any other match," said Cole, a junior who was making his first state appearance. "One of our coaches, coach (Jim) Flower, told us to have fun out there. If we keep it loosey-goosey, we play better.
"I really didn't (envision this). When (Zelezny) and I decided to team up, this obviously was the goal, to get to Cincinnati and to get to the state final."
Cole and Zelezny defeated Sycamore's Varun Kalaiarasan and Alex Karev 6-3, 6-1 in the first round, Toledo St. John's Ben Carter and Akhil Katragadda 6-0, 6-3 in the second and Hunting Valley University School's Drew Krantz and Tyler Krantz 6-4, 6-0 in a semifinal.
"Both (Cole and Zelezny) are good players who are really good around the net," coach Will Thieman said. "They grew up playing together, so it's really cool, and I think they really love UA tennis."
UA's other doubles team of seniors Jack Hughes and Jack Schadek went 0-1, losing 6-2, 6-4 to Krantz and Krantz in the first round May 26.
"One thing (Krantz and Krantz) did better was they had more returns in play," Hughes said. "They were able to break us a few times.
"We've been on the same team for many years and we both like our forehands, which brought us together. We're both pretty good at the net."
The Bears, who were represented in the state tournament for the 59th consecutive year, finished 12-5 overall and went 4-0 in the OCC-Central Division to win their 35th consecutive league championship, finishing ahead of Dublin Coffman (3-1), Hilliard Davidson (2-2), Marysville (1-3) and Central Crossing (0-4).
In its home sectional that concluded May 13, UA took the top two places in doubles as Cole and Zelezny defeated Hughes and Schadek 6-3, 6-3 in the final. Freshman Will Reynolds was fourth in singles as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament that concluded May 20 at UA.
At district, Cole and Zelezny went 4-0 to place first and Hughes and Schadek went 2-2 to finish fourth as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state.
UA's hopes for the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state championship ended with a 3-2 loss at New Albany in a district final May 23. The Bears swept the doubles courts, as Hughes and freshman Nathan Yu beat Alex Cash and Chris Mathes 6-2, 6-1 and Reynolds and Schadek edged Alek Jacoby and Ben Yan 7-5, 6-3.
Among other players eligible to return are junior Elliot Jones and sophomores Lance Li and Nick Gruss.
Girls lacrosse team
rolls into state semi
The girls lacrosse team outscored its first three postseason opponents 60-11, but coach Wendy Pinta stressed that her team's third consecutive trip to the Division I state tournament was hard-earned.
The top-seeded Bears defeated second-seeded Thomas Worthington 20-6 in the Division I, Region 3 final May 26 at Olentangy, after knocking off fourth-seeded Watterson 19-5 in a regional semifinal May 23 at home.
"I wouldn't call this an easy win," Pinta said after the regional final. "We worked hard to come up with a good game plan and, because the girls executed it so well, things may have looked easy. (Thomas) gave us a pretty good game for much of our first meeting (a 16-7 win on April 4), so we didn't want to let them stick around in this one."
Anna Schildmeyer scored four goals, Megan Kozar, Anna Piscopo, Olivia Schildmeyer and Brenna Smith each scored three and goalkeeper Libby Mislan made four saves against Thomas.
Piscopo scored five goals against Watterson.
UA was 17-2 before playing Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a state semifinal May 31 at Dayton Oakwood. The winner plays Massillon Jackson or New Albany in the state final Saturday, June 3, at Ohio Wesleyan University.
UA defeated New Albany 9-4 on May 3.
The Bears are seeking their third consecutive state championship and eighth overall.
Boys lacrosse team
wins regional title
The boys lacrosse team split the OCC-Central championship with Coffman and Davidson, but it defeated both teams last week with much more on the line.
Top-seeded UA beat fourth-seeded Davidson 9-3 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal May 24 at home and edged second-seeded Coffman 12-11 in the regional final May 27 at Olentangy. The Bears lost to the Shamrocks 16-12 on May 2 in a league game.
Jack Dolan had four goals against Coffman, and he and E.J. Caldwell each scored three against Davidson. The Bears, Shamrocks and Wildcats all went 6-1 in the league.
"We were OCC co-champions and that made it a motivating factor," coach Kyle Olson said. "(Coffman) beat us on our field and they handled us. We were just playing really good team lacrosse and really sharing the ball. You can't give the seniors and captains enough credit.
"We did a great job between the lines. We also got a couple goals in transition, which helped us stay in control of the lead."
UA was 20-2 before playing Cincinnati Moeller in a state semifinal May 31 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne. The winner plays Cleveland St. Ignatius or Olentangy Liberty in the state final Saturday, June 3, at Ohio Wesleyan.
The Bears defeated Liberty 6-4 on April 10 and edged St. Ignatius 8-7 in overtime on April 28. UA also defeated St. Ignatius 17-5 in last year's state final to win their 16th championship.
well at nationals
The boys and girls rowing teams placed three boats in the top five at the SRAA Nationals that concluded May 27 in Camden, New Jersey.
The boys junior varsity 4 of Thomas Herzog, Jack Levering, Dylan Reed, Gaven Zou and coxswain Jonah Ammons placed second in 5 minutes, 2.14 seconds, .33 of a second behind first-place Ramsey (New Jersey) Don Bosco Prep.
The girls junior varsity 8 of Sydney Badgeley, Julia Boyer, Audrey Holman, Jaimie Holden, Elena Moehring, Riley Moran, Catherine Powell, Rose Saalman and coxswain Addie Mitiska finished third (5:11.24), and the boys varsity 8 of R.C. Brandes, Griffin Burcham, Philip Chalmers, John Duhigg, Cameron Hutchinson, Sangyoon Lee, Ben Saalman, Drew Weisberg and coxswain Clara Fix was fifth (4:26.04).
The girls freshman 8 and girls junior varsity 4 boats were eliminated in preliminaries May 26.
Track season ends
at regional meet
None of the track and field program's three Division I regional competitors advanced to state.
Adrienne Wachtman finished 10th in the discus (107 feet, 11 inches) and Heidi Heuerman was 13th in the 3,200 meters (11:33.82) for the girls team, and Avery Heath of the boys team finished 15th in the 100 (11.73) and 16th in the 200 (23.51) in the regional meet held May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3, at Ohio State.
Neither UA team scored. Thomas won the boys team title with 73 points as 37 teams scored, and Gahanna's girls won their third consecutive regional championship with 97 points as 35 teams scored.