Having lost one of the area's best players at first singles, Olentangy High School girls tennis coach Jeff Luxenburger is hopeful that a new addition eventually will be just as successful.

Freshman Nour Khayat began the season atop the Braves' lineup, taking the place of two-time Division I state-qualifier Kathleen Jones.

"She has an incredible work ethic and is a player who has so much potential to be a top player in Ohio in the next four years," said Luxenburger, who is in his eighth season. "It's great to have a blend of young players and veterans in a lineup, as the older players' experience and leadership rubs off on the underclassmen."

Senior Amanda Jones, junior Priyanka Agochiya and sophomore Archita Sriram return from last year's team that went 7-8 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, finishing third behind champion Liberty (5-0).

Agochiya usually played second singles. Amanda Jones and Sriram generally were the Braves' first-doubles team.

The Braves lost junior Vidya Puttagunta, who played both singles and doubles last year, to Berlin.

Olentangy opened Aug. 11 by winning the Delaware Invitational, sweeping every flight to finish with 35 points, ahead of the host and runner-up Pacers (22). Khayat won first singles, Agochiya and Sriram won second and third singles, respectively, Amanda Jones and senior Jothsna Sabbasani won first doubles and junior Faith Shielu and sophomore Khushi Agarwal were first at second doubles.

The Braves' first dual match was Aug. 15 at Pickerington North.

Kathleen Jones made state in doubles as a freshman and as a singles player last year, going 1-1.

"Losing Kathleen Jones from last year is a huge loss for us, but that's the nature of high school athletics," Luxenburger said. "I think that we are going to be slightly stronger throughout the lineup this year, however, as most of our varsity players from last year have returned and have had an entire year to improve. ...

"Priyanka Agochiya and Archita Sriram will likely be playing singles for us as well. They are both fantastic players who are returning letterwinners with varsity experience."

Rounding out the roster are junior Anna Collins, sophomore Isha Sawhney and freshman Sonia Chirravuri.

"We are working hard in practice on improving in doubles, as that is often the key to winning the close matches," Luxenburger said. "Early practices (were) excellent, as veterans and new players alike have shown that they're ready to put in the work to have a successful season."

The Braves begin league play Aug. 23 against Westerville South.

Seniors to lead boys golf team

The way things have worked out for the boys golf team recently, some of the seniors find themselves having to break back into the top of the lineup after having been there as underclassmen.

Senior Cameron Casto and junior Bennett Zeitner return from last year's top five, and seniors Garrett Leckrone and Ben Nash hope to remain in that group on a full-time basis for the first time since their sophomore year.

Casto shot a 74 to start the season Aug. 4, guiding the Braves to a team score of 325 and eighth place in the 15-team Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Golf Club behind champion Wellington (297). Leckrone shot an 81, followed by Nash (84), Zeitner (86) and senior Chas Martin (88).

"It wasn't our best day. We had some rough holes, but Cam played very well. He shot a 74 but told me he felt like he played his 'C' game," 15th-year coach Joel Glassburn said. "Just the way things worked out last year, Trey Wilson was a move-in and he ended up making the (Division I) district tournament (as an individual). Luke Boerner was in his second year of competitive golf and ended up being in the lineup. Bryce Reed was a huge loss (and is now a sophomore at Berlin).

"I'm happy to have a team with a lot of experience. If we can get them to click, we could have a good year."

Olentangy began OCC-Buckeye play with the first round of the four-round league tournament Aug. 7 at Turnberry. Led by Casto's 71, tied for first individually with Liberty's Josh Steyer and Westerville North's Pierre Southibounnorath, the Braves shot a 307 and placed third behind Liberty (295) and Orange (306) and ahead of Westerville Central (325) and North (397).

In the second round Aug. 13 at Apple Valley, Olentangy shot 313 to place second behind Liberty (302) and ahead of Central (319), Orange (328) and North (385).

The Braves went 14-6 in the league last year, finishing second to Liberty (20-0), and tied for fourth at sectional but lost out on the final district berth on the fifth-player score tiebreaker.

Rounding out the roster is freshman Tyler Phillips.

"The seniors are excited and ready to make their mark," Glassburn said. "How this year goes is up to them. We didn't have the start we wanted, but we have some time to make up for that."

Horton, Sommerfeld pacing girls golfers

Two of the girls golf team's top three players from last year return in junior Sam Horton and sophomore Lauren Sommerfeld, and the challenge for second-year coach Micah Conley will be helping his younger competitors sustain the same promise for 18-hole matches as they have shown for nine.

"We have lots of learning to do," Conley said. "Eighteen-hole events are going to be tough for us as a lot of the newer girls keep getting better and stronger, but they've been good for nine holes."

Sommerfeld averaged 48.5 per nine holes as a freshman and was the Braves' top golfer. Junior Sierra Cardi now plays for Berlin.

Olentangy opened Aug. 6 with a 199-227 win over Buckeye Valley at Oakhaven. The match also included Berlin, which did not start the season with enough golfers to field a full lineup.

Led by Sommerfeld's round of 87, the Braves shot a 425 in the first round of the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament Aug. 8 at Mentel Memorial to finish fourth behind Liberty (317), Orange (330) and Central (385) and ahead of South (508) and North (515).

Horton shot a 96, followed by senior Sam Billy (121), junior Madi Earl (121) and senior Stephanie Frank (150).

Olentangy went 8-12 in the league last year to finish fourth behind champion Orange (19-1), which went on to win its second consecutive Division I state championship.

Rounding out the roster is junior Lauren May.

"There's a little more pressure on (Sommerfeld) this year," Conley said. "She was No. 1 for us last year but this year, everybody is looking at her as a leader. She has made dramatic improvement. Both she and Sam have improved a lot. They've been spending time with our younger girls and helping them improve. They're who those girls are looking up to."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 4 -- Thomas Worthington Invitational at Delaware Golf Club

Aug. 6 -- Patriot Cup at Denison Golf Club

Aug. 7 -- OCC-Buckeye at Turnberry

Aug. 8 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Rattlesnake Ridge

Aug. 9 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at York

Aug. 11 -- Steve Youmans Classic at Oakhaven

Aug. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye at Apple Valley

Aug. 14 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin

Aug. 18 -- Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic at Hiawatha

Aug. 20 -- Toledo St. John's Invitational at Inverness

Aug. 28 -- OCC-Buckeye at Denison Golf Club

Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek

Sept. 15 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club

Sept. 17 -- Delaware County Bank Cup at Royal American

Sept. 18 -- Central Crossing, Olentangy Liberty and Thomas Worthington at York

Sept. 27 -- Olentangy Liberty at Oakhaven

Sept. 29 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Hickory Hills

Oct. 6 -- Wedgewood Showcase

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 6 -- Buckeye Valley and Olentangy Berlin at Oakhaven

Aug. 8 -- OCC-Buckeye at Mentel Memorial

Aug. 10 -- Panther Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 13 -- Grove City and Hilliard Davidson at Rolling Meadows

Aug. 15 -- OCC-Buckeye at Westchester

Aug. 18 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines

Aug. 21 -- Buckeye Valley and Marysville at Darby Creek

Aug. 29 -- OCC-Buckeye at Royal American

Aug. 30 -- Olentangy Liberty and Pickerington North at Turnberry

Sept. 5 -- Big Walnut and Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree

Sept. 10 -- Delaware and Worthington Kilbourne at Oakhaven

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek

Sept. 13 -- Delaware and DeSales at Oakhaven

Sept. 17 -- Hilliard Davidson and Westerville Central at Royal American

Sept. 19 -- Buckeye Valley, Lancaster and Olentangy Liberty at Scioto Reserve

Sept. 24 -- Buckeye Valley and Marysville at Oakhaven

Sept. 25 -- Olentangy Berlin and Westerville Central at Oakhaven

Sept. 27 -- Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange at TBD

Oct. 6 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 11 -- Delaware Invitational

Aug. 15 -- at Pickerington North

Aug. 16 -- at Big Walnut

Aug. 21 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Aug. 23 -- vs. Westerville South

Aug. 25 -- Watterson Invitational at Park of Roses

*Aug. 28 -- at Westerville North

Aug. 29 -- at Columbus Academy

*Aug. 30 -- vs. Westerville Central

*Sept. 4 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Sept. 5 -- vs. Watterson

*Sept. 6 -- at Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 11 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 12 -- vs. Olentangy

Sept. 13 -- at Olentangy Berlin

Sept. 20 -- at Hilliard Darby

Sept. 25 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Sept. 27 -- at Worthington Christian

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

FIELD HOCKEY

*Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

Aug. 21 -- At Dublin Jerome

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Thomas

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 18 -- At Sylvania Northview

Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Coffman

*League contest