Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis coach Shawn Walton has sorted out his singles lineup, but his doubles lineup ultimately could decide how the Wildcats fare in the OCC-Central Division.

Hilliard Davidson High School boys tennis coach Shawn Walton has sorted out his singles lineup, but his doubles lineup ultimately could decide how the Wildcats fare in the OCC-Central Division.

"It always comes down to doubles in the OCC," Walton said. "Our doubles courts have to get experience quickly and not get caught up in the moment."

Last season, the OCC-Central produced two of the top four doubles teams in the Division I state tournament. Worthington Kilbourne graduate Jonny Price and junior Kevin Metka won the state title and Upper Arlington graduate James Melvin and junior Billy Weldon placed fourth.

The Wildcats, who finished 7-8 overall last year, lost three players to graduation, including Stephen Valentine (first singles) and Jeremy Mokry (third singles).

Seniors Ben McClarren and Trent Searfoss will start the season at first and second singles, respectively. Sophomore Spencer Walter, who played mostly second doubles last year, moves up to third singles.

Juniors Kevin Blackstone, who played first doubles last year, and Zack Page, who played second doubles a year ago, are expected to start the season at first doubles. Junior Greg Tiffan, sophomore Pat Holland and freshmen Joe Justus and Michael Porter are all competing for playing time at second doubles.

The Wildcats are going to rely on their depth to improve on their fourth-place finish in the OCC-Central a year ago. UA, which placed fourth in the Division I OTCA state team tournament last season, won the league with a 7-0 record and 73 points. Kilbourne, (6-1, 68) was second, followed by Dublin Coffman (5-2, 54), Thomas Worthington (4-3, 44), Davidson (3-4, 43), Hilliard Darby (2-5, 18), Westland (0-7, 11) and Central Crossing (1-6, 7).

UA (Weldon), Kilbourne (Metka) and Coffman (sophomore Hiromi Nakayama) all return state qualifiers.

"The OCC is going to be very difficult," Walton said. "We'd love to win the OCC, but we're going to have to take it one match at time."

•After graduating 10 players from a team that finished 5-7 overall, Darby has a lot of openings in its lineup.

"We're certainly lacking experience," coach Scott Nickel said. "From a coaching perspective, it's a great challenge, but they're very eager to learn."

Senior Ryan Pelfrey, the team's lone returning letterwinner, will play first singles. Others competing for playing time at singles are sophomores Andy Kim and Jason Pelfrey and freshman Kyle Chilicoate.

Battling for spots on the doubles teams are seniors Shannon Cochran, Tyler Dubiak and Gautham Vermulapalli, sophomores Steven Miles and Bryson Hook and freshman Harsha Ponna.

"We're going to focus on realizing our potential individually and collectively," Nickel said. "It's going to take a concerted effort to get better every time we step on the court."

•Coaching a first-year program comes with its own set of challenges, but Bradley coach Ben Lilly has been pleased with how well his squad is adapting.

"Right now, we're still getting to know the guys," Lilly said. "We're going to see how competitive we can be."

Lilly played at Wittenberg University and was the men's coach at John Carroll University from 2005-07. Last fall, he was an assistant for Bradley's girls team.

Bradley will be led by sophomore Daniel Smith at first singles and junior Tyler Speakman will split time between second singles and first doubles. Junior Andy Van will play second or third singles, with junior Troy Fleishman, sophomore Kevin Girardi and freshmen William Kolenky and Krishna Patel expected to round out the lineup.

Junior Soham Dave, sophomores Chris Bowman, Nicholas Brown, Nicholas Bulinski and Kyle Vermillion and freshmen Michael Barton, Robert Fink, Nizam Hussain, Arqam Khan and Prit Patel also are expected to contribute.

The Jaguars join the OCC-Capital. Last year, New Albany won a third consecutive OCC-Capital title at 6-0 with 71 points. Big Walnut (45) placed second, followed by Delaware (33), Olentangy Orange (30), Mount Vernon (26), Watkins Memorial (13) and Franklin Heights (3).

New Albany graduated Peter Kobelt, who won state titles in singles last year and in doubles with Skyler Engel in 2007.

"The Capital Division has a wide range of teams," Lilly said. "Being in the top half of the league is a realistic goal for us.

"We have no concrete goal as far as the number of wins goes, but I've always placed a high value on sportsmanship. That's going to be one of the biggest things I instill in my team."

At a glance


•Coach: Ben Lilly, first season

•Next match: Monday at Dublin Coffman

•Key players: Troy Fleishman, Kevin Girardi, Daniel Smith, Tyler Speakman and Andy Van


*March 31 vs. New Albany

April 5 at Dublin Coffman

*April 6 at Franklin Heights

April 7 vs. Olentangy

April 8 at Hilliard Davidson

April 12 vs. Upper Arlington

*April 13 at Big Walnut

April 14 vs. Pickerington North

April 15 vs. Briggs

April 16 vs. Gahanna

April 19 at Upper Arlington B

*April 20 vs. Mount Vernon

*April 22 vs. Delaware

*April 27 at Olentangy Orange

April 28 vs. Westerville Central

May 3 at Olentangy

*May 4 vs. Watkins Memorial

*May 8 at OCC-Capital tournament

May 11 at Hilliard Darby

*OCC-Capital match


•Coach: Scott Nickel, seventh season

•Next match: Today vs. Reynoldsburg

•Key players: Kyle Chilicoate, Andy Kim, Jason Pelfrey and Ryan Pelfrey


March 30 vs. Briggs

*March 31 at Kilbourne

April 1 vs. Reynoldsburg

*April 6 vs. Central Crossing

April 8 vs. Marysville

*April 12 vs. Upper Arlington B

April 13 at Upper Arlington

*April 20 at Dublin Coffman

*April 22 vs. Thomas Worthington

April 26 at Dublin Scioto

*April 27 at Westland

*May 4 vs. Hilliard Davidson

*May 8 at OCC-Central tournament

May 11 vs. Hilliard Bradley

*OCC-Central match


•Coach: Shawn Walton, fourth season

•Next match: Wednesday vs. DeSales

•Key players: Kevin Blackstone, Ben McClarren, Zack Page, Trent Searfoss and Spencer Walter


March 30 at DeSales

*March 31 at Westland

April 7 vs. DeSales

April 8 vs. Hilliard Bradley

April 12 at Pickerington Central

*April 13 vs. Central Crossing

April 14 vs. Westerville Central

*April 15 vs. Thomas Worthington

April 17 vs. Hilliard Doubles Classic

*April 20 at Worthington Kilbourne

*April 22 vs. Dublin Coffman

April 24 at Worthington Cup (Thomas Worthington)

*April 27 vs. Upper Arlington

April 28 vs. Delaware

April 29 vs. Watterson

May 3 vs. Bexley

*May 4 at Hilliard Darby

May 5 vs. St. Charles

*May 8 at OCC-Central tournament

May 11 at Pickerington North

*OCC-Central match