Coach Marc Thomas thinks the New Albany High School boys tennis team will travel a winding road en route to accomplishing its goals.
With his top contributors returning from last year's team that won its 11th consecutive league championship and finished third in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament, Thomas sees himself doing a lot of mixing and matching in the next few months.Video •Watch an interview with New Albany boys tennis player Chris Mathes.
"We have a lot of pieces and it will be my job to put it together into a team that peaks in late May and hopefully does some great things," said Thomas, who is in his fifth season. "We are going to need some of our younger guys (to perform well) to accomplish some of our goals this season. It won't just be one or two guys who produce.
"We have to produce from No. 1 all the way down to seven and eight and get all our guys involved. We will have to win a lot of matches a lot of different ways."
Sophomores Robert Cash and Nathan Jose are back after finishing third in doubles in the Division I state individual tournament, as is senior Graeme Green, who qualified for state in singles but lost in the first round.
New Albany was 2-2 before its OCC-Capital Division opener April 11 against Big Walnut. The Eagles opened with a 5-0 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier on March 24, edged St. Charles 3-2 on April 3 and split two matches April 8, defeating Mason 3-2 and losing to Hunting Valley University School by the same score.
New Albany's original league opener April 6 at Newark was postponed because of bad weather.
Joining the lineup is senior Alex Cash, Robert's older sister who reached three consecutive state tournaments with the girls team but opted to skip the girls season last fall to try her hand at boys tennis.
"A lot of thought went into it. It was not a quick decision," said Alex Cash, a Carnegie Mellon recruit. "It was hard for me. I am great friends with all the girls, so I tried to make it to as many matches as I could for them. But I want to see what I can do (this spring)."
Green played first singles in each of New Albany's first two matches, but Thomas juggled the lineup otherwise.
Rounding out the varsity lineup are seniors Chris Mathes and Nikhil Pramad, juniors Evan Mitelman and Alex Wagman, sophomores Dev Vasani and Ben Yan and freshman Alek Jacoby.
"We have a lot of talent, which helps the team a lot because (Thomas) can mix up the lineups and put together some different combinations," Mathes said. "We'll be OK because the team chemistry is great and we know what each other's strengths and weaknesses are."
New Albany went 17-2 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Capital last year. The Eagles defeated Toledo St. John's 3-0 in the third-place match of the OTCA state tournament.
New Albany entered this season 66-0 in OCC-Capital matches since joining the league before the 2006-07 school year.
"The leadership, character and integrity we have on this team, this is a team that comes around once in a career," Thomas said. "I've had some really good teams before, and this is one of them.
"This one has the potential to be one that's talked about if we take care of our opportunities."
March 24 -- vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
April 3 -- vs. St. Charles
*April 6 -- at Newark
April 8 -- vs. Hunting Valley University School and Mason
*April 11 -- vs. Big Walnut
*April 13 -- vs. Groveport
April 15 -- vs. Solon
*April 18 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*April 20 -- at Franklin Heights
April 22 -- vs. Cincinnati Sycamore
April 24 -- vs. Westerville North
April 26 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
April 27 -- at Hilliard Davidson
May 2 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
May 3 -- at Dublin Jerome
May 5 -- at Columbus Academy
May 9 -- vs. Pickerington North
May 15 -- vs. Upper Arlington