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."
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
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
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
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
*Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 21 -- At Dublin Jerome
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Thomas
Aug. 18 -- At Sylvania Northview
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Coffman