When senior AjAi Smith of the Worthington Christian High School boys tennis team played Buckeye Valley's Kyle Baesman in the regular season, the match went much differently than it did when the two met in the postseason.
Baesman beat Smith 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 on April 13 and went on to earn the fourth seed for the Division II sectional at Columbus Academy, while Smith was unseeded for the same sectional.
When they played with a district berth on the line May 10, Smith controlled the action from the get-go and went on to win 6-2, 6-3 to move on to district for the first time.
According to Smith, the biggest change from when he played Baesman the first time is that he has focused extensively on making fewer errors as opposed to trying to overpower opponents.
"I've never gotten past the second round (at sectional) before, so it feels pretty good," Smith said. "I lost in the third set against (Baesman) earlier in the season. The first match was early in the season, and I had to have a total change in how I played after that. Consistency beats power, so I've just tried to be more consistent and let the other guy makes mistakes.
"In the first set (against Baesman at sectional) I just had a ton of adrenaline, so I hit the hardest first serves I've ever hit and they almost all went in. Then I'd come up to the net immediately and crack one into the corner and (I had a big lead) within 20 or 25 minutes. I'm pretty happy with the results."
The district tournament is Thursday, May 17, at Academy and Saturday, May 19, at Upper Arlington. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Smith went on to fall to Academy's Arie Tuckerman 6-0, 6-0 in a semifinal and lost to Academy's Ryan Wahl 6-4, 6-4 in the consolation match to finish fourth at sectional.
Also advancing to district was the third-seeded doubles team of sophomores Benjy Homoelle and Tommy Robinson, who lost to Academy's Drew Haffer and Ryan Seneviratne 6-0, 6-1 in a semifinal and beat DeSales' Liam Verfurth and Dylan Benedict 6-2, 6-3 in the consolation match to finish third.
Homoelle and Robinson began playing together in late April.
"(Homoelle and Robinson) are playing really well right now," coach Dino Tsibouris said. "They've just become more consistent and are just really enjoying the game together. They've gotten better at executing, and the more you play, the better you do."
Also competing in singles at sectional were senior Isaac Deskins and sophomore Peter Tsibouris. Both lost in the first round.
The doubles team of sophomores Jake Flanagan and Aaron Pettit also lost in the first round.
Boys track team wins league title
The boys track and field team entered the postseason coming off a championship at the MSL-Ohio Division meet May 8 and 11 at London.
The Warriors scored 130 points at the league meet to finish ahead of London (121), Academy (101), Whitehall (63), Grandview (57) and Bexley (48).
Worthington Christian is competing in the Division III, district 1 meet that began May 15, continues Thursday, May 17, and concludes Saturday, May 19, at Watkins Memorial.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Fairfield Union. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Capturing league titles were Jake Bertelsen in the 1,600 meters (4 minutes, 24.16 seconds) and 3,200 (9:58.35), Seth Parsell in the discus (142 feet, 1 inch), Kyle Smith in the 800 (1:57.24), the 800 relay of Ethan Crary, Montell Edwards, Michael King and Smith (1:32.71), the 1,600 relay of Edwards, Luke Smith, Kyle Smith and Jordan Jackson (3:27.87) and the 3,200 relay of Bertelsen, Kyle Smith, Luke Smith and Taylor Vallangeon (8:05.1).
Jackson also was second in the 200 (22.12) and third in the 100 (11.33), Alex Harrison was runner-up in the 110 hurdles (17.09), Derek Holston was second in the shot put (40-8) and Vallangeon was runner-up in the 3,200 (10:11.65).
The 400 relay of Crary, Edwards, King and Kanyin Oladejo-Lawal was third (44.72). Placing fourth were Crary in the 200 (23.18) and Parsell in the shot put (40-3 1/2).
Girls track team begins postseason
The girls track and field team also is competing in the Division III, district 1 meet this week at Watkins Memorial.
At the MSL-Ohio meet, the Warriors finished fourth (68) behind Bexley (128), Academy (121) and Grandview (116) and ahead of London (61) and Whitehall (22).
Ashley Hall won league titles in the 100 (12.84) and 200 (25.9) and teamed with Emily Hall, Mianna Hartings and Emma Kasich to win the 400 relay (51.36) and 800 relay (1:46.96).
Emily Hall added a runner-up finish in the long jump (15-5 3/4), Hartings placed third in the 100 (13.4) and Jacqueline Seifert was fourth in the discus (81-0).
Baseball team falls in 10 innings
The 14th-seeded baseball team lost 6-5 in 10 innings at fourth-seeded Northridge in the second round of the Division III district tournament May 10 to finish 9-14.
The Warriors, who opened the postseason May 8 with a 6-5 victory over 16th-seeded Liberty Union, outhit Northridge 13-10 but were unable to hold a 4-2 lead as the Vikings scored three runs in the sixth inning to take a 5-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh, Jack Lockhart singled, moved to second on a fielder's choice by Danny Myers and both runners moved up one base on a passed ball.
Josh DeMarco then singled to left, driving in Lockhart for the tying run. Myers also tried to score but was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Northridge scored the game-winning run in the 10th on a two-out hit by Alex Hook.
All of softball team eligible to return
With no seniors on its roster and regularly fielding seven freshmen in its starting lineup, the softball team finished 6-17 overall, losing to ninth-seeded Galion Northmor 13-4 in the first round of the Division III district tournament May 8.
The Warriors, who were seeded 22nd, finished fifth in the MSL-Ohio at 1-7, behind co-champions London and Whitehall (7-1), Bexley (3-5) and Grandview (2-6).
"There's a lot of good stuff that happened this year, and we're going to be all right in our program," coach Matt Heidorn said. "The girls have gotten a lot better."
The Warriors closed the season with a doubleheader sweep of Delaware Christian on May 12, winning 12-1 and 15-4, and also beat Wellington 16-3 on May 9. Their league win came against Grandview, 18-7 on April 2.
Junior Kate Tomallo (CF), who hit better than .600 in league action, was named first-team all-league. Freshman Lilly Heidorn (P/SS) was second-team all-league and junior Sophia Hevel (INF) and freshmen Mia Schoonover (P/1B) and Abby Lanker (C/3B) were honorable mention all-league.
Also on the roster were junior Rachel Smith (OF), sophomore Natalie Opava (LF) and freshmen Kylie Doon (3B/C), Evie Hackworth (OF/DP), Rachel Han (2B/OF), Lilly Lampryk (OF), Izzy Slaughter (OF/1B) and Julia Todd (OF).