Yudai Oda and Yuki Kusumoto grew up playing tennis together in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan, and even were teammates in high school there.

Yudai Oda and Yuki Kusumoto grew up playing tennis together in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan, and even were teammates in high school there.

Two years ago, Oda's family moved to Dublin after his father was transferred to the Honda of America plant in Marysville. Oda and Kusumoto kept in touch by e-mail until last year, when Kusumoto's family also made the move after his father was transferred.

On April 15, Oda and Kusumoto found themselves on opposite ends of the court when the Dublin Coffman High School boys team played Jerome. Oda is a senior at Coffman, and Kusumoto is a sophomore at Jerome.

"I never thought I'd play someone I know from Japan here in the United States," Kusumoto said through an interpreter, senior teammate Yuto Saito. "I guess this is a small world."

For the record, Oda and Daiki Kumasegawa beat Kusumoto and Han He 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles as Coffman won the team match 4-1.

When Kusumoto learned he would be moving to Ohio, he hoped he would able to go to Coffman with Oda.

"I wanted to go to the same school as him so I would already have a friend in school, but I have four brothers and a sister, and the house we needed was (in Jerome's district)," he said.

It is recommended because of the language barrier that students who move to the district from other countries during their high school years start as sophomores, but Oda decided to go ahead and start as a junior.

Although Kusumoto is 18 and would be a senior at his high school in Japan, he decided to adhere to the recommendation and start at Jerome as a sophomore. He won't be able to compete in high school sports as a senior because he will turn 19 before the start of his senior year.

"It feels weird being a sophomore because I have a brother who is two years younger than me and we're in the same grade level," Kusumoto said.

Oda and Kusumoto played singles as sophomores in Japan, but Oda said the level of high school tennis in the U.S. is higher.

"The difference between tennis in Japan and here is that people serve with more power here and are better with their backhand swing," Oda said through an interpreter, Kumasegawa. "The players here are a little faster and more consistent. My dad is a very good player and he taught me how to hit, but my coach (David Drees) here is the best coach I've ever had."

Kusumoto has had trouble communicating with his coach, Chris Schill, and his partner, He.

"Han is Chinese and he speaks perfect English, so they have three languages between the two of them, and they still can't understand each other," Schill said. "It's been difficult to communicate strategies and tell (Kusumoto) what I'm seeing because nobody but the coach is allowed to talk to players during matches, so we can't get anyone over to translate between us. I'm thinking about putting (Kusumoto and Saito together in doubles) so we can all communicate better."

Oda and Kumasegawa have played first doubles together the past two years, and they said their ability to speak Japanese on the court has been an advantage.

Through eight matches, Oda and Kumasegawa had a 6-2 record. They were 7-5 as a doubles team last year.

"We can call for switches while we're playing and our opponents can't tell what we're saying, which is a big advantage," Kumasegawa said. "We can talk about exactly what we're going to do right in front of everyone, and nobody else knows what we're saying."

Once high school teammates in Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan, Coffman's Yudai Oda (left) and Jerome's Yuki Kusumoto became opponents when the teams played April 15.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Coffman, Jerome and Scioto boys tennis teams:


April 2 -- Defeated Gahanna 3-2

April 8 -- Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 5-0

April 9 -- Lost to Watterson 3-2

*April 10 -- Def. Grove City 5-0

April 12 -- Def. Fairfield 4-1

April 14 -- Def. Upper Arlington B 4-1

April 15 -- Def. Jerome 4-1

*April 17 -- Lost to UA 4-1

Last Monday -- Def. Olentangy 5-0

Last Tuesday -- Played Scioto

*Today -- At Hilliard Davidson. Coffman lost 3-2 last year.

Tuesday -- At Olentangy Liberty

Of note: The Shamrocks were 6-3 overall before last Tuesday and are 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.

*OCC-Buckeye match


April 1 -- Def. Scioto 5-0

April 2 -- Def. Westerville North 5-0

April 3 -- Lost to Pickerington North 3-2

April 8 -- Lost to St. Charles 4-1

*April 10 -- Def. Olentangy 3-2

April 15 -- Lost to Coffman 4-1

*April 17 -- Lost to Pickerington Central 3-2

Last Monday -- Def. UA B 3-2

Last Tuesday -- Played Liberty

*Today -- Home vs. Mount Vernon. Jerome won 3-2 last year.

Monday -- Home vs. UA B

Tuesday -- Home vs. Teays Valley

Of note: The Celtics were 4-4 overall before last Tuesday and are 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.

*OCC-Cardinal match


April 1 -- Lost to Jerome 5-0

April 3 -- Lost to Gahanna 4-1

April 8 -- Lost to Watterson 5-0

April 9 -- Lost to Village Academy 4-1

*April 10 -- Def. Franklin Heights 5-0

April 14 -- Lost to Hilliard Darby 3-2

April 15 -- Lost to Olentangy 4-1

April 16 -- Def. Marysville 4-1

*April 17 -- Lost to Big Walnut 4-1

Last Tuesday -- Played Coffman

*Today -- Home vs. New Albany. Scioto lost 5-0 last year.

Monday -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. Scioto lost 3-2 last year.

Wednesday -- At Grove City

Of note: The Irish were 2-7 overall before last Tuesday and are 1-1 in the OCC-Capital.

*OCC-Capital match