The Dublin Scioto High School boys tennis team lacked an abundance of varsity experience entering last season, and it showed.

The Dublin Scioto High School boys tennis team lacked an abundance of varsity experience entering last season, and it showed.

The Irish got out to a 2-7 start in dual matches before finishing 8-9 overall.

But with six varsity letterwinners returning to lead the way, 16th-year coach Mike Wrigley is optimistic that his squad will pick up where it left off last year when it won six of its final eight dual matches.

"In tryouts, the kids have been pushing each other and their matches have been a lot more competitive and closer than they were last year, and I think part of that is due to their experience," said Wrigley, whose team opens Thursday, April 2, with an OCC-Cardinal Division match at Olentangy. "At least from early indications, it seems like most of our guys are playing at a higher level, which might make us more competitive against the tougher teams on our schedule. That doesn't mean that we'll beat all of those teams, but I do think we'll be more competitive across the board."

The returnees are senior Craig Zeid and juniors Ben Albert, Jeff Lam, Gautam Machiraju, Siddarth Machiraju and Kirushanth Ravindran.

Ravindran is competing with freshman Sean Ferguson to retain his No. 1 singles position, while Zeid will play third singles after missing most of last season with an ankle injury.

The Machiraju twins will play first doubles after playing second and third singles last year. Albert, Lam and sophomore Hement Reddy are vying for playing time at second doubles.

"I feel comfortable putting any of our kids out there for any match," Wrigley said.

The Irish went 4-3 in OCC-Cardinal dual matches and finished the league tournament with 42 points to place fourth, behind Dublin Jerome (6-1, 77), Olentangy Liberty (7-0, 76) and Westerville Central (5-2, 49), and ahead of Westerville South (3-4, 34), Olentangy (2-5, 21), Westerville North (1-6, 16) and Marysville (0-7, 8).

None of the Irish finished in the top four of the Division I sectional at Upper Arlington to qualify for district. In singles, Ravindran went 2-1 and the Machiraju twins each went 0-1. The doubles teams of Albert and Nick Groelov and 2010 graduate Louis Gresham and Lam each went 1-1. Groelov chose not to play his senior season.

"I'm still looking for Jerome and Olentangy Liberty to bang it out for the OCC title," Wrigley said. "Hopefully, we can hold on to fourth and maybe even do one better since we have so many guys back."

Coffman, which finished 14-4 overall last season, has only one returning starter in junior Hiromi Nakayama, who will play first singles for a third consecutive season.

Expected to fill the other two singles positions are sophomores Jack Buchan and Leon Cai.

Playing doubles will be senior Di Wang, junior Alex Lee, sophomores Sam Dinnin and Bobby Lowe and freshmen Michael Chen, Ryo Fujiwara and Rohit Joshi.

"It's awesome to have Hiromi return to lead our team," said first-year coach Brett Hundertpfund, whose team opened March 30 at DeSales and plays an OCC-Central match Thursday, March 31, at home against Central Crossing. "Leon and Jack are going to be strong players and leaders, too."

Last season, the Shamrocks finished second in the OCC-Central with a 6-1 record and 54 points, behind Upper Arlington (7-0, 73) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (5-2, 49), Worthington Kilbourne (4-3, 46), Hilliard Davidson (3-4, 40), Hilliard Darby (2-5, 37), Westland (1-6, 15) and Central Crossing (0-7, 8).

Three Shamrocks placed in the top four of the Division I sectional at Davidson, as Nakayama went 5-0 to finish first and the doubles team of Daiki Kumasegawa and Pranav Magal went 3-1 to finish second.

At the district tournament at Elysium Tennis Center, Nakayama went 2-2 to place fourth and Kumasegawa and Magal went 1-1. Nakayama then went 0-1 at the state tournament at Ohio State for a second consecutive season, losing to Lexington's Nicky Wong 6-2, 6-3.

"Upper Arlington graduated only one player from their state championship team, so they're going to be tough to beat in the OCC," Hundertpfund said. "I definitely feel like we're going to be competitive with most of the teams we play, because the guys have great attitudes and they're willing to work hard to improve."

Jerome, which finished 14-2 overall last season, returns senior Sean Stein at first singles and sophomore Kent Seitz at second singles.

Stein is entering his fourth season at first singles.

Rounding out the lineup are seniors Alex Fry, Alex Hessler and Cam Sheley and juniors Jarden Judson and Frank Kuo.

"We have five of our top seven players back, but it's kind of murky as to who will play where after we get past second singles," said fifth-year coach Aaron Bauer, whose team opens Thursday, March 31, with an OCC-Cardinal match at Westerville North.

The Celtics went 6-1 in OCC-Cardinal matches last season but finished the league tournament with 77 points to win their first league title.

Four Jerome players placed in the top four in the Division I sectional at Darby to qualify for district.

The doubles team of Stein and Seitz went 4-0 to finish first, and the doubles team of Odajima and Kuo went 3-1 and finished third.

At district, Stein and Seitz went 3-1 and placed third to become the first Jerome players to qualify for state, and Odajima and Kuo went 0-1.

Stein and Seitz then went 2-2 at state and placed fourth.

"Our match against Olentangy Liberty (on Tuesday, April 5) will be important again, but Westerville Central and Dublin Scioto will be pretty decent competition in the OCC as well," Bauer said. "Sean and Kent definitely have a good shot at making it back to state again, but we realize that a lot of things can happen over the course of a season, so we need to stay focused and keep working hard."