From the perspective of Bexley High School boys tennis coach G.J. Steckel, the season is going according to plan.

From the perspective of Bexley High School boys tennis coach G.J. Steckel, the season is going according to plan.

The Lions lost only one player from last year to graduation in Brian Yost, and their experienced lineup has been the key to their success. They were 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the MSL-Ohio/Cardinal Division before playing defending league champion Columbus Academy on April 26.

"That's the best thing. There haven't been any surprises," Seckel said. "Everyone is doing exactly what I expected them to do. Getting the doubles spots set has been the key for us."

Last year, Seckel had a five-player rotation between first and second doubles. This season, eight players have seen time at doubles. David Seckel and Max Schottenstein have emerged as the first-doubles team and Christian Liefeld and Matt O'Hern have settled into second doubles.

With most of his players working out separately during the offseason, coach Seckel wasn't sure what his doubles pairings would be before the season.

"I'm sure some of them play (doubles) together in the offseason, but most of the time, they don't," he said. "(When pairing players for doubles), you really need to see how they play together. Sometimes on paper, you think these two players would work great together, but for some reason, they don't really mesh."

The play of the doubles teams could be a huge factor in determining how the Lions fare in the MSL-Ohio/Cardinal tournament May 7 at Academy.

Last year, Bexley finished the league tournament with 42 points, placing second behind Academy (48). Schottenstein teamed with David Seckel to defeat his brother, Abram Schottenstein, and Chris Perrini of Academy 10-5 to win the second-doubles title, and Liefeld and O'Hern placed second at first doubles after losing to Academy's Adam Enslen and Dan Leathery 10-4 in the final.

Academy is a different team than it was a year ago when it finished 20-5 overall and won the Division II state team title. The Vikings lost two starters - Eoghan Bahnson and Andrew Enslen - to graduation and junior Chad Buchanan transferred. Bahnson teamed with junior Langston Hughes to place second in the state doubles tournament.

Academy coach Jeff Warstler called Bexley "the team to beat" in the MSL-Ohio/Cardinal in the preseason, but coach Seckel is not taking the Vikings lightly.

"It's still going to come down to us and Academy," coach Seckel said. "Academy is very, very good and we're going to have a real competitive battle with them."

•The track and field teams are hoping their performances in the Russ Owen/Bexley Relays on April 21 will help them prepare for the postseason.

"I told the team afterward they are steadily improving, not only in their times and distances, but in their unity as a team," coach Doug Welsh said. "They've always competed well, but they're supporting each other."

The boys team scored 80 points to place second behind Eastmoor Academy (94) and ahead of North Union (63), Whitehall (61), Marion-Franklin (47), Linden-McKinley (38) and Beechcroft (34). The Lions fared well in the distance events, as they won the 6,400-meter relay (20 minutes, 35.9 seconds), the 3,200 relay (8:49.3) and the lap medley (11:29.3).

The girls team also placed second in the meet, scoring 96 points to finish behind Columbus School for Girls (110) and ahead of Marion-Franklin (71), Eastmoor (50), North Union (46), Whitehall (35), Linden (26) and Beechcroft (12). The Lions had three first-place finishes, winning the long jump (30 feet), the 3,200 relay (10:36.6) and the sprint relay (1:51.5).

The Lions have performed well in multiple-team meets. The girls won the Red Raider Invitational on April 2 at London and the Joe Ramsey Invitational on April 9 at Hartley and was second in the Ashville Kiwanis Invitational on April 15 at Teays Valley. The boys team was second in the Ramsey Invitational and third in the Ashville Kiwanis Invitational.

The Lions will compete in the Milt Will Relays on Friday, April 29, at Canal Winchester and the Circleville Invitational on May 6 before preparing for the MSL-Ohio meet, which is May 10 and 13 at Heath.

"Over the next couple of meets, the competition is going to get stronger," Welsh said. "Other teams are starting to get better, so we have to do that also."