Tyler Stephen felt like the Dublin Jerome High School girls tennis team played to the best of its ability last fall while going 22-0 and winning the Division I OTCA state tournament title during his first season as coach.

Tyler Stephen felt like the Dublin Jerome High School girls tennis team played to the best of its ability last fall while going 22-0 and winning the Division I OTCA state tournament title during his first season as coach.

Entering his first season as coach of boys team, he is expecting to get that same effort out of his players this spring, even though he realizes it's unrealistic to expect his boys squad to match the success of his girls team.

The Celtics, who finished 14-1 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season, opened the season March 27 against Watterson and also played Columbus Academy on March 28. They open league play Thursday, March 29, by playing host to Westerville North.

"My goal is to get the most out of every team I coach no matter what the talent level is," Stephen said. "This is a talented team and I have high aspirations for our kids, but that doesn't mean that I expect to win every match or think that we can't win every match. I'll be happy if we're as successful as we possibly can be, whether that means we win a state championship, an OCC championship or simply win our share of matches. I just want to make sure we play well."

Four letterwinners have returned to vie for singles positions in seniors Sunny Feng, Jared Judson and Frank Kuo and junior Kent Seitz.

Seitz teamed with 2011 graduate Sean Stein to win Division I sectional and district doubles titles a year ago before going 1-1 in the state tournament at Hilliard Davidson. Seitz and Stein placed fourth at state the previous season.

Last year, Kuo went 4-1 and placed second in the sectional at Davidson before going 1-1 at district, which also was held at Davidson.

Also on the team are junior Kevin Lin and sophomores Viraj Anand, Austin Hunt, Patrick Liu and Tyler Stohr.

"I've been stressing the importance of doubles, because that's going to be the key to our success in a lot of the closer matches this season," Stephen said.

The Celtics won their second consecutive OCC-Cardinal title last season with 77 points, finishing ahead of Olentangy Liberty (6-1, 51), Westerville Central (4-3, 39), Dublin Scioto (5-2, 38), Westerville South (2-5, 19), Marysville (1-6, 16), North (3-4, 16) and Olentangy (0-7, 12).

In the league tournament, Stein (first singles), Seitz (second singles), 2011 graduate Alex Hessler and Judson (first doubles) and Feng and 2011 graduate Cameron Sheley (second doubles) all went 3-0 to place first.

"Olentangy, Liberty, Scioto and us all have very good teams, so it should come down to the four of us for the OCC title," Stephen said.

Coffman has high expectations for year

Coffman, which finished 10-6 overall last season, opens Thursday, March 29, with an OCC-Central match at Central Crossing.

Senior Hiromi Nakayama has returned to play first singles for the fourth consecutive season. Last year, he went 5-0 to place first in the Division I sectional at Upper Arlington and went 3-1 and placed second at district to qualify for state for the third year in a row. He went 1-1 at state after going 0-1 the previous two years.

"Hiromi's up there with the top players in the state, for sure," second-year coach Brett Hundertpfund said.

Junior Leon Cai returns at second singles and junior Jack Buchan is back at third singles.

Last year, Buchan and Cai went 3-1 and placed third in doubles at sectional before going 0-1 at district.

Vying for playing time at doubles are senior Sabin Park, junior Bobby Lowe, sophomores Michael Chen and Rohit Joshi and freshmen Brian Do, Vishesh Javangula and Ken Yoshino.

"We've got a lot of good tennis players," Hundertpfund said. "We're still in the process of seeing who works well together in doubles."

Last year, Coffman went 5-2 in OCC-Central matches and completed the league tournament with 59 points to place third, behind Upper Arlington (7-0, 82) and Thomas Worthington (6-1, 60) and ahead of Davidson (4-3, 41), Worthington Kilbourne (3-4, 40), Hilliard Darby (2-5, 27), Westland (1-6, 10) and Central Crossing (0-7, 1).

In the league tournament, Nakayama (first singles), Cai (second singles) and Buchan (third singles) each went 2-1 and placed second, while juniors Sam Dinnin and Lowe (second doubles) went 3-0 to place first.

"We've got all of our singles players back and I feel like we've improved overall, so we're going to try to win the OCC, but UA is always going to be a tough team to beat to win that title," Hundertpfund said.

Scioto returns entire lineup from last season

Scioto features returning starters at every position.

Those include sophomores Sean Ferguson (first singles) and Arjun Venkataraman (second singles), seniors Kirushanth Ravindran (third singles), Ben Albert and Jeffrey Lam (first singles) and Gautam Machiraju and Siddarth Machiraju (twins at second doubles).

Junior Hemant Reddy also returns with plenty of varsity experience.

"It's nice to have almost our entire team back," 17th-year coach Mike Wrigley said.

"Some of our guys didn't play as much tennis as some other players around the city, but that's because of their high academic course load, which is a good reason."

Scioto, which finished 11-6 overall and fourth in the OCC-Cardinal last season, opened March 28 against Watterson and begins league play on Thursday, March 29, by playing host to Olentangy.

Last year in the OCC-Cardinal tournament, Ravindran, Venkataraman and the Machiraju brothers were unable to play because of academic commitments, but Albert and Lam (first doubles) and Reddy and 2011 graduate Craig Zeid (second doubles) went 2-1 and placed third.

In the Division I sectional at Davidson, Ferguson went 2-1 and Ravindran and Venkataraman each went 1-1 in singles. The doubles teams of Reddy and Zeid and Albert and Lam both went 0-1.

"We tried to make our schedule more competitive, so I'm not worried about wins and losses," Wrigley said. "Our focus is getting better so we can play strong at the end of the year, after we fell apart at the league and sectional tournaments last season. We'd like to improve at least one spot in the OCC standings and play our best tennis in the tournaments."