Senior Joey Hemphill left his mark on the Grove City High School boys tennis program.

Senior Joey Hemphill left his mark on the Grove City High School boys tennis program.

Hemphill, who was the first district qualifier in coach Ron Smith's eight seasons, dropped his first-round match in the Division I district tournament on May 20 at Hilliard Davidson, losing to Dublin Jerome's Frank Kuo 6-2, 6-3.

"It was an honor being here," Hemphill said. "It was exciting just getting to this point."

Hemphill fell behind 3-0 in the first set and closed to 4-2. Hemphill had 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second set before Kuo rallied to complete the sweep.

Kuo lost his state-qualifying match to New Albany's Steve Miller 6-0, 6-1.

"He really didn't do anything to surprise me," said Hemphill, who played first singles all four years at Grove City. "He's a good player. He's from Dublin Jerome. I guess the only thing I could have done a little bit better was just play a little more my game. That first set I was a little bit outside of my game."

Hemphill finished the season 20-5.

"Over the past four years, Joey has helped elevate the tennis program at Grove City High School," Smith said. "Joey is a class act on and off the court. He is a perfect example of hard work paying off. He set a goal of reaching the districts this year. I was happy to see him accomplish it."

Hemphill earned the district berth by finishing third in the sectional tournament on May 12 and 14 at Pickerington Central.

Hemphill finished second at first singles in the OCC-Ohio Division tournament on May 7 and 9 at Central, losing to Gahanna's Jesse Shivener 6-1, 6-1 in the final.

Shivener earned a state berth by beating Upper Arlington's Jeffrey Melvin 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a quarterfinal at district.

Grove City finished fifth (26 points, 3-4) in the OCC-Ohio behind Gahanna (68, 7-0), Pickerington North (55, 6-1), Central (50, 5-2) and Reynoldsburg (34, 4-3) and ahead of Groveport (16, 2-5), Newark (11, 1-6) and Lancaster (9, 0-7).

The Greyhounds finished 10-6 overall.

Smith will have a big void to fill in the lineup next season, as he will lose 11 seniors.

Besides Hemphill, key losses will be Brian Havener, Colin Hopkins, Eli Monhemius and Mitch Sturm.

Smith expects a battle for positions next season, with junior Joey Swavely possibly emerging as the first singles player.

Smith added that a talented sophomore class also should contribute.

•First-year Central Crossing coach Dusty Rhodes was pleased with his team's effort throughout the season.

The Comets finished 1-11 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Central.

"It was a great experience," Rhodes said. "The guys worked hard all year even though it didn't show in the scores. Offseason hitting will begin over the summer and we have plenty to work on."

Central Crossing's lone win came against Marion-Franklin 4-1 in its opener on March 29.

The Comets finished eighth (1 point) in the OCC-Central behind Upper Arlington (82, 7-0), Thomas Worthington (60, 6-1), Dublin Coffman (59, 5-2), Davidson (41, 4-3), Worthington Kilbourne (40, 3-4), Hilliard Darby (27, 2-5) and Westland (10, 1-7).

Junior Mack Bostard accounted for the team's lone point in the OCC-Central tournament, where he finished seventh.

Freshmen Mikhail Yakhnitskiy and Stephen Taylor gained valuable experience this season, Rhodes said.

"We were very young," he said. "Experience was key this year. They learned a lot about themselves and the level that they have to get to compete. They are a great bunch of guys who work very hard. We are definitely on the right track."

The Comets will lose seniors Connor Ellis and Tim Pettit.

"Senior leadership is key when you are young," Rhodes said.

"The seniors stepped up and helped out. Connor was the only returning player and the only player with experience in real tournament competition. Tim was a motivator the whole year. He is very competitive and it rubbed off on the rest of the team."