With two eventual state qualifiers in its lineup last season, the Wellington School boys tennis team posted a 13-4 record and proved to be one of central Ohio's top Division II programs.

The Jaguars could be even better this season.

Wellington opened with 5-0 victories over Watterson on March 26 and Thomas Worthington on April 2 despite not having its top two singles players in senior Connor Biernat and sophomore Trevor Ball, as both were playing in junior tournaments.

Biernat and Ball both were expected to become eligible during the second week of April.

Wellington beat London 5-0 on April 9 in its MSL-Ohio Division opener.

"We'll be very good this year," Biernat said. "We should contend for the state team title. We didn't lose anyone from last year and just have a lot of depth, which is what you need."

The Jaguars are one of just four Central District teams competing in the Division II Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, along with Columbus Academy, Bexley and Logan Elm. They open the event against Academy in a district semifinal at a date to be announced after losing to Bexley 3-2 in a district semifinal last season.

The Jaguars have replaced West Jefferson in the MSL-Ohio, which was won last year by Academy (46 points, 6-0). Rounding out the standings were Bexley (43, 5-1), Worthington Christian (30, 4-2), West Jefferson (14, 3-3), Grandview (14, 2-4), Whitehall (7, 1-5) and London (2, 0-6).

Biernat, who has committed to play for Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, was the state runner-up in 2016 before losing to eventual state champion Nicholas Williams of Cincinnati Seven Hills 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of last year's state tournament.

Biernat and Ball are playing first and second singles, respectively. Ball also competed in the state tournament last season, falling to Bay Village Bay's Adam Krueger 5-7, 6-2, 6-3 in the first round.

Sophomore Milan Gonela should contribute at third singles or doubles when he becomes eligible during the season's second half. After playing for Wellington's middle school program, he played for St. Charles last season but elected to transfer back to Wellington and must sit out the first half of the season because of the OHSAA transfer rule.

Freshman Griffin Biernat, Connor Biernat's brother, played first singles against Watterson but is expected to play third singles or doubles when the full lineup is intact.

The other returnees are seniors Kolapo Dairo and Ryan Young, juniors Adam Sorrels and Anarag Reddy and sophomore Ben Marshall.

Freshman Evan Manley also is looking to contribute.

In last year's sectional at Academy, Connor Biernat beat Ball 7-6 (7-1), 6-1) for the singles title and Dairo and Young defeated Reddy and Sorrels 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in the third-place doubles match.

Then at district, Connor Biernat defeated Ball 6-3, 6-4 to win the title as the top two finishers advanced to state, while the doubles teams of Reddy and Sorrels and Dairo and Young lost in the first round.

Marshall lost in the first round at sectional in singles.

"Trevor and Connor will be ready for the season," seventh-year coach Tommy Haddow said. "I'm excited for the season. I like the seniors we have."

Girls lacrosse team creating tight bonds

During her experience competing, first-year girls lacrosse coach Katie Hill believes she gained a key perspective about how to build a program.

A 2012 Plymouth (Michigan) graduate who was first-team all-state as a senior, Hill went on to play as a midfielder for Tiffin University. She also traveled to several countries in Europe with a national team before moving to central Ohio.

She took over in the offseason for Caitlin Fearon, who headed the program the last three seasons, including last spring when the Jaguars went 4-10 overall and 0-7 in the Central Independent League.

Wellington opened April 10 at home against Hartley after having its first two scheduled games postponed.

"I've actually never coached at this level before, but I saw the posting on the OHSAA website, took a chance and got it," said Hill, who teaches at Bridgeway Academy in the Clintonville area. "I'm really excited about the season. They're a really great group of girls and a really awesome group of individuals. It's about shaping it into a team mentality. I'm making sure everyone is learning how to share the ball."

Wellington, which beat Middletown Fenwick 10-9 in the second round of the Division II, Region 7 tournament last year for its first postseason win since 2011 before falling in a quarterfinal, returns several key players.

Annie Taylor (attacker) and Lizzy Chester (midfielder) were among the team's offensive leaders last season and lead a senior class that also returns Sarah Abdelbaki (attacker), Serino Nakayama (defender) and Libby White (defender).

Ella Sweitzer has returned at goalkeeper and is joined in the junior class by midfielder Mackenzie Beam.

Also returning are sophomores Sarah Anderson (attacker), Anna Chester (defender), Mia Croft (attacker), Sedera Green (defender), Lindsay Harris (defender) and Neha Rao (attacker).

Rounding out the roster are sophomore Ella Grant (attacker) and freshmen Caroline Cooke (attacker), Regan Kadlic (midfielder), Noora Rajjoub (defender), Savannah Riley (attacker) and Lauren Sabol (attacker).

"We have some girls that have literally never picked up a stick before and some that play travel lacrosse year round, but everyone who isn't as experienced seems to be picking it up really quickly," Hill said. "It's been good to see the experienced players show the others how to improve."

Boys lacrosse team building foundation

Second-year boys lacrosse coach Eric Fraser is trying to build continuity within the program after becoming its fourth coach in as many seasons last spring.

The Jaguars, who finished 2-11 last season, opened March 27 with a 13-5 loss to Westerville South and fell to Licking Valley 13-3 on March 29.

"It's hard when you're building a program to keep kids excited about it ... but the kids have seen outstanding growth, and it's been exciting to see," Fraser said. "We'll see where we are at the end of the season. ... We're hoping to have a middle school team next year."

The top returnees are junior attacker Trevor Seitz, who had four goals in a 10-6 victory over Xenia to close last year's regular season, and junior midfielder Katz Kadlic.

Wellington's other victory last year was 8-5 over Jonathan Alder. The Jaguars played the Pioneers on April 10.

Other key players include senior Hale Edwards (midfielder), juniors Ben Edwards (attacker), Harrison Morosky (defender) and Evan Scott (midfielder) and sophomores Andre Arman (defender) and Todd Bainbridge (attacker).

"We just (want to) improve on last year," Fraser said. "We lightened up the schedule a little bit, so you should see our record jump."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS LACROSSE

March 27 -- vs. Westerville South

March 29 -- vs. Licking Valley

April 10 -- vs. Jonathan Alder

April 14 -- vs. Bellbrook

April 17 -- at Buckeye Valley

April 19 -- vs. Newark

April 21 -- at Trenton Edgewood

April 24 -- at Licking Valley

April 28 -- at Columbus Academy

April 30 -- at Bexley

May 3 -- vs. Marysville

May 7 -- vs. Johnstown

May 9 -- vs. Morrow Little Miami

May 12 -- vs. Xenia

GIRLS LACROSSE

*April 10 -- vs. Hartley

*April 12 -- at Columbus School for Girls

April 14 -- vs. Bellbrook

*April 17 -- vs. Columbus Academy

*April 19 -- vs. DeSales

April 24 -- at Chillicothe

*April 26 -- at Bexley

April 28 -- at Westerville South

May 1 -- vs. Pickerington North

*May 3 -- vs. Granville

May 7 -- at Westerville North

*May 10 -- vs. Watterson

BOYS TENNIS

March 26 -- vs. Watterson

April 2 -- at Thomas Worthington

*April 9 -- vs. London

*April 10 -- vs. Worthington Christian

*April 12 -- at Whitehall

April 13 -- at Upper Arlington B

*April 17 -- vs. Columbus Academy

April 18 -- vs. St. Charles

*April 19 -- vs. Grandview

April 20 -- at Cincinnati Indian Hill

April 21 -- at Mason

*April 24 -- at Bexley

April 28 -- MSL Cup at Columbus Academy

April 30 -- at Upper Arlington

May 1 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

May 7 -- at Olentangy

May 8 -- at Olentangy Orange

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Wellington baseball and softball teams:

BASEBALL

*April 13 -- Home vs. Berne Union

April 14 -- Home vs. Mount Gilead (DH)

*April 16 -- Home vs. Fairfield Christian

April 17 -- Home vs. Ready

*April 18 -- At Harvest Prep

SOFTBALL

April 12 -- Home vs. Tree of Life

*April 13 -- Home vs. Berne Union

April 14 -- At Gahanna Christian

*April 16 -- At Fairfield Christian

April 17 -- Home vs. Gahanna Christian

*April 18 -- At Harvest Prep

*League contest