A seven-year era will come to an end when Casey Cempre, a senior for the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team, competes in the Worthington Cup for the final time on Saturday, April 30.

A seven-year era will come to an end when Casey Cempre, a senior for the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team, competes in the Worthington Cup for the final time on Saturday, April 30.

Between Casey, who played in the Worthington Cup the past three years, and his brother, Tyler, who played in the tournament from 2005-08, a Cempre has been one of the Cardinals' three representatives at the Cup since 2005.

"I look forward to it a lot," said Casey Cempre, who placed fourth in singles last year. "It's always exciting to play in a tournament like that with such a great caliber of players."

The Cup will feature a doubles team and a singles player from Dublin Jerome, Gahanna, Hilliard Davidson, Olentangy Liberty, St. Charles, Thomas, Upper Arlington and Worthington Kilbourne. The first round will be split between Thomas and Kilbourne with the finals being held at Kilbourne.

Last year, UA scored 16 points to win the Cup for the first time since 1999 and snap Kilbourne's two-year run as champion. The Wolves (10) placed second, followed by Liberty (9), St. Charles (9), Jerome (8), Davidson (8), New Albany (7) and Thomas (7).

The Cup has been a barometer for central Ohio boys tennis talent. The past two years, five of the Central District's eight state qualifiers in singles and all eight of its state qualifiers in doubles have played in the Cup.

In the past, the tournament attracted teams from the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas as well as Columbus. However, since the Cup limits each team to three players, many out-of-town teams have been staying away.

"Over the past couple of the years, it has become more of a Columbus tournament," Kilbourne coach Steve Metzmaier said. "A lot of teams don't like to come here because of that format, but on the other hand, its tradition draws a lot of the top players in the area to play in it. The road to the state tournament often goes through the Worthington Cup."

"There's a lot of history to the Worthington Cup," said Davidson coach Shawn Walton, who played in the event in 1983 when he attended Upper Arlington. "It's a nice change in format from some of the other tournaments and a lot of teams test their lineups for the sectional and district tournaments there."

The focus on central Ohio has not meant a drop-off in talent. Since 2008, the Central District has produced three Division I state doubles champions and two Division I singles champions. All but one of them, 2009 singles champion Peter Kobelt of New Albany, played in the Cup.

The past two years, three of the top four finishers in the Division I state doubles tournament were from central Ohio and all played in the Worthington Cup, including 2010 state champions Billy Weldon and Stu Little of Upper Arlington and 2009 state champions Kevin Metka and Jonny Price of Kilbourne.

"Winning the Worthington Cup last year was very important. We built up a lot of confidence," Little said. "Billy and I had some close, good wins at the Worthington Cup against teams we would face later in the district and state tournaments. Pulling out those types of matches was huge."

The Cup should have another talented field this year. As of April 23, Jerome (10-0), Gahanna (7-3), Upper Arlington (7-1), Thomas (7-1) and St. Charles (6-1) were a combined 37-6.

Thomas comes into the tournament after winning the Davidson Doubles Classic on April 16. The Cardinals scored 26 points to finish ahead of New Albany (24), Cincinnati Seven Hills (23), Dublin Coffman (21), Liberty (21), Watterson (14), Davidson (12) and Kilbourne (7).

Thomas coach Tyler Stephen wants his team to continue to build momentum in the Worthington Cup.

"Winning the Davidson Doubles Classic was a big step for our program. It's a little ironic because most area teams wouldn't consider us a strong doubles team," said Stephen, whose team hasn't won the Worthington Cup since 2000.

"I know this tournament means a lot to me and to our team. I want to make sure that I pick the right guys to participate to make sure we give ourselves the best shot possible."