With the loss of 12 players from a year ago to graduation, including first-singles player Joey Hemphill, Grove City High School boys tennis coach Ron Smith expects to do more teaching this spring.

With the loss of 12 players from a year ago to graduation, including first-singles player Joey Hemphill, Grove City High School boys tennis coach Ron Smith expects to do more teaching this spring.

The Greyhounds return just one player with significant varsity experience in senior Joey Swavely, who will play first singles.

"I lost 12 seniors, so the whole team is virtually new," said Smith, who is in his 10th season. "Some have one or two varsity-match experience. I have another big group of juniors, and they're all about equal. Right now we're doing a lot of playing off to try to determine spots on the team."

Last season, Swavely played second singles.

"This season at first seemed intimidating since I was the only returning varsity player, but other members of the team have stepped up to the challenge of filling in those varsity spots and I had to step up and play first singles," Swavely said. "I feel like we will be able to compete with any team we face and we have a very talented team this year. As a captain, I am very confident that my team will play to their full potential."

Smith expects junior Andrew Ray to play second singles.

The remaining positions should be contested most of the season, according to Smith.

Seniors Max Reed and Zachary Ritchie will be competing for playing time.

Others looking to contribute are juniors Joey Braughton, Nick Criss, Brandon Davis, Zach Easterday, Jacob Funk, Zach Grewell, Chris Lane, Jacob Stephenson, Jared Stephenson, Bryton Wise and Travis Wright and sophomores Chris Bennett and Max Easton.

"We're going to be solid the whole way down," said Smith, whose team opened March 28 against Teays Valley. "I might be doing a lot of mixing up this year. It's just who's playing well at the time."

Hemphill, who was the first district qualifier in Smith's tenure, lost his first-round match in last year's Division I district tournament to Dublin Jerome's Frank Kuo 6-2, 6-3.

Hemphill finished his senior season 20-5.

Grove City finished fifth (26 points, 3-4) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Gahanna (68, 7-0), Pickerington North (55, 6-1), Pickerington 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 went 10-6 overall.

Bostard returns to lead Central Crossing

Senior captain Mack Bostard leads the returnees for Central Crossing under second-year coach Dusty Rhodes.

Bostard, who accounted for the team's lone point in the OCC-Central tournament last season, is expected to begin this season playing first doubles with Fabio Valenzi, an exchange student from Italy.

Bostard also will play singles, according to Rhodes.

"We're happy to have quite a few players returning, but we're still a young team," Bostard said. "Our team consists of quite a few sophomores. We have been working hard in the offseason by taking lessons and conditioning, and we're looking to improve all the way through the season."

Also back are senior Trevor Turner (doubles) and sophomores Aaron Hill (singles/doubles), Michael Massey (singles/doubles), Stephen Taylor (singles) and Mikhail Yakhnitskiy (singles).

Other first-year varsity players are senior Victor Garcia (singles/doubles), junior Garrett Watson (doubles), sophomore Dennis Meleshchuk (doubles) and freshmen Jacob Cerino (doubles) and Kyle Deep (singles/doubles).

Rhodes expects Taylor to begin the season at first singles with Yakhnitskiy playing second singles and Hill, Massey and Garcia seeing time at third singles.

"They are improving," Rhodes said of his team, which opened March 26 with a 3-2 victory over Franklin Heights. "We have a few upperclassmen, but overall we have a young team. They have worked hard since November in the weight room and in lessons. They are a great group of athletes."

Last season, the Comets were 1-11 overall and 0-7 (1 point) in the league behind Upper Arlington (82, 7-0), Thomas Worthington (60, 6-1), Dublin Coffman (59, 5-2), Hilliard Davidson (41, 4-3), Worthington Kilbourne (40, 3-4), Hilliard Darby (27, 2-5) and Westland (10, 1-7).

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

"Our goal is to keep improving and build a tradition," Rhodes said. "We want to become a team that competes at a high level on the court and in the classroom. Academics and character are more important than wins and losses."