With only three players returning to the Pickerington High School North boys tennis team this season, coach Brian Hoff did not know what to expect.

With only three players returning to the Pickerington High School North boys tennis team this season, coach Brian Hoff did not know what to expect.

However, it quickly came together for the Panthers, and individual and team success followed.

The Panthers' season ended last Friday when Sam Prewitt and Dylan Bhaerman lost to Dublin Coffman's Daiki Kumasegawa and Pranav Magal 6-7, 6-1, 6-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament at Hilliard Davidson.

"It was their first time (at district) and there were a little bit of nerves," Hoff said. "They jumped out to a 4-0 lead but let Coffman back into it. We eventually won that first set, but it took a lot of energy out of us. Our play dropped off the next two sets. The effort was there, but in the last couple of sets the performance wasn't the same as that first set."

As a team, North finished 12-5 overall and third in the OCC-Ohio Division at 5-2 with 43 points, behind Gahanna (67, 7-0) and Pickerington Central (58, 6-1) and ahead of Grove City (25, 4-3), Reynoldsburg (24, 2-5), Newark (20, 2-5), Lancaster (17, 2-5) and Groveport (14, 0-7).

Prewitt and Bhaerman won the first-doubles court at the conference tournament on May 8, beating Gahanna's Weston Hebert and Daniel Emoff 6-1, 6-0.

"We played a much tougher schedule than the past few years," Hoff said. "To end 12-5, that's the best record we've had in a few years and all five losses were to top 10 teams in the state. We ended the season with seven wins in a row and we were probably playing our best tennis at the end of the year. You always hope for that as a coach and hopefully we can carry that momentum to next year."

North loses seniors Brian Good and David Nguyen, but expects to return juniors Alex Bartsch and Prewitt, sophomores Matt Bardales and Bhaerman and freshmen Andrew Brady and Patrick Yen.

"Dylan and Sam are two of our hardest workers," Hoff said. "With a majority of our team back, our goals next season start with winning the OCC, but it's not going to be easy. Gahanna has all its top players back. If our guys work hard, we could give them a run for the money."

Central had a quick exit at the district tournament last Friday at Davidson. The Tigers, who were represented by two doubles teams and a singles player, were done after the first round.

Chase Thomas and Dallas Stang lost to Upper Arlington's Eric Vannatta and William Nathan Schmit 6-2, 6-4, Alex Fischbach and Marshall LeVett lost to Dublin Jerome's Kent Seitz and Sean Stein 6-3, 6-0 and Mason Roese lost 6-0, 6-0 to the eventual district champion, Arren Carter of Olentangy Liberty.

"Chase and Dallas started sluggishly and seemed to be on their heels a little bit," coach Kelli Rings said. "They picked it up a bit, but it was too little, too late. Alex and Marshall came out fast but ran out of steam, and Mason had a mountain to climb. He gave his best effort and didn't back down, though."

Central finished 13-6 overall and second in the OCC-Ohio at 6-1 with 58 points, behind Gahanna (67, 7-0). At the conference tournament on May 8, the Tigers were represented on four of the five championship courts, with Roese and Jacob DeVore winning the second-doubles court by defeating Gahanna's Sam Raybuck and Demetrius Stevenson 6-3, 6-2.

Central loses four seniors in Fischbach, LeVett, Roese and Zack Kristoff.

"Those seniors have been pretty valuable to the team the last couple of years," Rings said. "Whenever you lose a group of that size and caliber, you're going to be hurting."

Expected to return are juniors Ross Dinan, DeVore, Stang and Thomas.

"We've got good strength coming back," Rings said. "These guys are all familiar with our expectations and hopefully they'll come back even hungrier and want to settle something they didn't get to settle this year."

At a glance


Record: 13-6 overall, 6-1 (second) in OCC-Ohio Seniors lost: Alex Fischbach, Zack Kristoff, Marshall LeVett and Mason Roese Key returnees: Jacob DeVore, Ross Dinan, Dallas Stang and Chase Thomas


Record: 11-5 overall, 5-2 (third) in OCC-Ohio Seniors lost: Brian Good and David Nguyen Key returnees: Dylan Bhaerman, Sam Prewitt and Patrick Yen