Devin Boyer and Ryan Mudre's adjustment to life as freshmen on the New Albany High School boys tennis team appeared seamless, especially considering that they comprised half of the Eagles' four-player contingent in the Division I state tournament last weekend.
Boyer played doubles with junior Nathan Jose, and Mudre was in the singles bracket along with junior teammate Robert Cash.
Cash and Jose were appearing in their third state tournament, and both said Boyer and Mudre remind them of themselves from two years ago.
"They're two great guys and we really mesh well together as a team," Cash said. "They have been phenomenal. The big thing with them is making sure they know that the varsity level is pretty good, but probably not much different than what they've seen. They've been playing bigger and older guys all their lives. I know I was. I just tried to tell them play their game, focus one game at a time and they'll be fine."
Mudre had to default his final two matches in the district tournament May 19 at Olympic Indoor Tennis Club because of a sore wrist and finished fourth. Cash finished first, and Boyer and Jose were second.
The first two rounds at state were played May 25, and the semifinals and first- and third-place matches were May 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Cash placed fourth in singles at state last year, and Jose was fourth in doubles with 2017 graduate Graeme Green. Cash and Jose were third at state in doubles as freshmen.
Boyer, who started playing when he was 2 years old and began formal lessons during elementary school, mostly played singles during the regular season, seeing action in doubles in only a few matches.
"I like to do whatever (coach Marc Thomas) tells me and stick to my role," Boyer said. "I had some expectations. I was hoping I could help the team wherever coach put me."
Jose said he was excited, but not surprised, to see Boyer and Mudre step up.
"We couldn't ask for any more of them. They're going to keep excelling and we're excited to see just how much," Jose said. "I knew they would step up and make a good impact on our team. (Boyer and I) have our similarities and differences, but (Boyer) is really crafty and really solid at the net with good hands. I enjoy staying on the baseline and hitting my groundstrokes. We like to set up our points that way. We definitely have contrasting games, but we mesh together well."
New Albany finished its season May 27 with the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament at Rey-noldsburg. The Eagles defeated host Upper Arlington 3-1 in the district final May 21 to earn their third consecutive state berth and improve to 15-0.
Cash and Jose won at first and second singles, and Dev Vasani and Ben Yan clinched the Eagles' win by edging Elliot Jones and Hunter Triplett 7-6, 7-5 at second doubles.
New Albany placed second in the OTCA state tournament last year and third in 2016.
"Beating Upper Arlington in a district final is not something we take lightly," Thomas said. "In these kinds of matches, every court has to step up and be there and ready to battle. Every court has to pick up everybody else so they feed off each other. Each win takes a little more pressure off everybody else. It was a great team win. This group of guys, they're special."
McDonald returns to state track meet
Kenny McDonald of the boys track and field team didn't have quite the performance he hoped for in the Division I regional meet May 23 at Pickerington North, but the senior has one weekend left in his season to gain the extra distance he wants.
McDonald will compete in his second consecutive state meet this weekend, as he placed third in the long jump (21 feet, 6 inches) at regional. The top four finishers in each event advanced to state Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
McDonald finished 14th (21-6 3/4) at state last year.
"I wanted to go 22 feet because I thought that would win it," McDonald said. "I've wanted to get back to state for a year. I felt like I choked last year. Hopefully this year I can do better. I just want to medal (by finishing in the top eight) and stand on the podium. I think I'm capable of doing that."
Olentangy Orange's Jaeschal Acheampong won the long jump (22-0) at regional.
The regional concluded May 25 with finals for the running events and some field events, including boys high jump, in which New Albany's Gabe Glenn sought to make his first state meet. Glenn was seeded eighth of 16 competitors based off his jump of 6-1 in the district 1 meet that concluded May 19 at Hilliard Darby, in which he placed fourth.
On the girls side, Sophie Matt ran the 800 meters and the 1,600 relay of Jalyn Austin, Matt, Lindsey Neff and Alyssa Painter competed in the final.
Competing May 23 but failing to advance to state was the 3,200 relay of Austin, Matt, Neff and Painter (11th, 9:55.06).
Also competing at state will be Michael Fenster of the boys team, who will try to sweep the seated 100, 400 and 800 championships for the second consecutive year and win his third consecutive title in the 800. Seated athletes do not compete in the district and regional meets.
Baseball team wins regional opener
Spencer Tammaro didn't start the season on the baseball team's varsity roster, but the sophomore outfielder provided the biggest hit of the Eagles' season to date when his two-out, two-run single in the top of the seventh inning of a Division I regional semifinal May 24 at Dublin Coffman led New Albany past Olentangy 2-1.
Tammaro took an 0-and-2 pitch the opposite way into left field to score pinch runners Jack Scharfe and Zach Thomas.
"I was just down in the count and wanted to take it backside. I was lucky enough to get a good hit," Tammaro said. "I just came in here and tried to get the job done, get in any way I could and help the team. This is great. I couldn't have pictured this. Being in this situation, that's what I always wanted."
New Albany was 20-8 before playing Olentangy Liberty in the regional final May 25 at Coffman. The Eagles were going for their second regional title and first since 2004, when they went on to win the Division III state championship.
The regional champion plays Massillon Jackson or Medina Highland in a state semifinal Friday, June 1, at Huntington Park, and that winner plays Cincinnati Moeller, Mason, Strongsville or Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in the state final Saturday, June 2, at Huntington Park.
Girls lacrosse team wins regional title
Although it needed a second-half comeback, the girls lacrosse team won its third consecutive Division I regional championship May 24 by defeating second-seeded Olentangy Liberty 10-8 at Thomas Worthington.
Alyssa Kneedler had five goals to lead top-seeded New Albany, which was 20-1 before playing Hudson in a state semifinal May 30 at Wooster, needing two wins to capture its first state title since 2013 and first in Division I. Blythe Ferguson and Chloe Platte each added two goals for the Eagles, and Platte was instrumental on the draw to help New Albany establish control by scoring the first six goals of the second half after trailing 5-3 at halftime.
Goalkeeper Catherine Ryan made 10 saves.
"We had too many opportunities on 50/50 balls we weren't picking up (in the first half)," coach Dave Ferguson said. "In the second half, we just controlled the ball on offense and finished our shots. We adjusted a little bit on defense and that seemed to help everybody settle in."
It was the fifth consecutive win for New Albany, which also defeated visiting and sixth-seeded Strongsville 13-2 in a Region 1 semifinal May 21. Platte and Emily Rezabek each scored four goals and Ryan made 10 saves.
The New Albany-Hudson winner plays Cincinnati Sycamore or UA in the state final Saturday, June 2, at Ohio Wesleyan.
New Albany lost to UA 12-5 on May 2 and lost to Sycamore 11-7 on May 5.
The Eagles also won state championships in 2007, 2008 and 2009, all in Division II.
Boys lacrosse team falls to Wolves
Senior attacker Patrick Cooper and junior attackers Cody Roberts and Brode White each scored one goal as the boys lacrosse team lost at second-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 7-3 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal May 22.
Junior goalkeeper Perry Doran made 16 saves for third-seeded New Albany, which finished 15-6 overall.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak.
"We keep joking around (and saying), 'keep drinking the Kool-Aid, keep believing,' " coach Danny Gibson said. "But there's truth to that, especially in high school sports. It's about who can manage their emotions the best (and) manage the swings. That's the mentality we had to have. Teams will score on us and we will score on other teams."
The Eagles went 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish second behind Olentangy (7-0) and ahead of Liberty (5-2), Orange (4-3), Westerville Central (3-4), Westerville North (2-5), Westerville South (1-6) and Big Walnut (0-7).
Senior attacker Nathan Reader, junior defender Luke Muter and White were first-team all-league. Senior faceoff specialist Peter Ackley, Cooper, senior midfielder Drew Miller and sophomore defender Patrick Gurd were second-team all-league and senior goalie Matt Huizenga and Doran both were named honorable mention all-league.
Ackley, Miller, Muter and White were first-team all-region. Cooper, Huizenga, Reader and senior long-stick midfielder Chandler Wilson were second-team all-region.
Huizenga is an Ohio Northern recruit, Miller will play at Rollins College and Doran is a Monmouth commit.
New Albany began the 19-team regional tournament with a 15-8 win over visiting and 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in a second-round game May 15 and defeated 12th-seeded Centerville 13-5 in a home quarterfinal May 18.