Canal Winchester High School girls tennis coach Jill Welsh complimented her players' conditioning and offseason work as the Indians prepared for their season opener Aug. 15 at home against Hamilton Township.

The fact that many key players return from last year's team that set the program record for wins was an afterthought, and for the time being, Welsh plans to keep it that way.

"At this point, we're just trying to figure out where everybody will fit," said Welsh, who is in her third season. "You always want the best season possible, and for us that starts with getting a better finish in the OCC (-Capital Division) than we had previously. We want to develop our skills and have fun doing it. If we can do those two things, the results are going to take care of themselves."

Elizabeth and Sara Welsh, the coach's twin daughters, are the only two seniors on a roster that also features three juniors -- one of whom is top singles player Callie Tate -- as well as two sophomores and a freshman.

The Indians lost six players to graduation from last season when they went 10-9 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital.

Although Tate is in her second full season at first singles, a role she also filled for part of her freshman year, coach Welsh did not specify a lineup before the season opener.

"I'm not really sure about a lot of the girls position-wise," she said. "Elizabeth really likes doubles, and that is probably where she'll be. Sara can play either singles or doubles. We could be flexible, and I think we probably will be for a while early in the season. A lot of girls could play a lot of different spots.

"Right now, the conditioning is good and so is the consistency. That's a good start."

Sara Welsh is a three-year letterwinner.

Rounding out the roster are juniors Courtney Cowgill and Makayla Neely, sophomores Ellie Stedman and Alexa Theuamthalaray and freshman Erin Duckworth.

Duckworth will split time between tennis and cross country, a schedule Welsh said should be feasible because the two teams conflict only once this year, on Sept. 9, when the cross country team competes in the McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial and the tennis team participates in the Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament.

Canal Winchester begins league play Aug. 24 at home against Big Walnut. The Indians finished fourth in the OCC-Capital last year behind champion New Albany (5-0).

Coach Welsh, whose program is seeking its first district qualifier, said the offseason work ethic is a big reason for her optimism about this season.

"We had some girls who played summer tournaments, especially Callie, and all of them have played year-round," Welsh said. "A lot of them work out at Scarborough (East Tennis Club in Columbus). That's a big reason why we've improved and why the girls are more consistent overall."

Harper expected to
pace boys golfers

Senior John Harper again is atop the boys golf team's lineup, but third-year coach Kevin Barhorst thinks the key to the Indians' season might be the performances of his second and third golfers, juniors Jacob Eggleston and Trevor Mays.

"I think we'll have a pretty good season if Jake and Trevor step up and shave some strokes," Barhorst said. "They're both shooting around 90 right now, but I think they can go as low as 80 if they are solid from tee to green and eliminate mistakes here and there."

Eggleston, Harper and Mays all have been on varsity since their freshman seasons.

Harper shot a 76 on Aug. 7 in the Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry to finish third individually.

"John's control of his game has come a long way," Barhorst said. "He keeps the ball in play, he is a lot more confident and mature and he knows he can shoot good scores. He was our No. 1 as a freshman and he saw other (No. 1 golfers) driving the ball 50 and 75 yards past him. Now he can play with anybody."

Canal Winchester began the season Aug. 4 by finishing 14th (299) in the 17-team Granville Shootout at The Links at Echo Springs behind co-champions Bexley and Olentangy Orange (245). Scores were counted through 14 holes because of darkness.

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Joshua Fair, Blake Fry, Justin Koonce, Alex Mobley and Vincent Vatri and freshman Noah Cox.

Cox began the season as the Indians' No. 4 player, and Fair was fifth.

The Indians opened the four-round OCC-Capital tournament Aug. 8 at Clover Valley, shooting a 366 to finish third behind New Albany (311) and Big Walnut (313) and ahead of Newark (403). Groveport and Franklin Heights did not record team scores.

Harper led the Indians with an 82, followed by Mays (93), Cox (95) and Eggleston (96).

The second round was scheduled for Aug. 14 at Darby Creek.

Canal Winchester went 12-8 in the league tournament last year to finish third behind champion New Albany (20-0).

"Our biggest goal right now is closing the gap on Big Walnut," Barhorst said. "With some hard work and consistency, I think that can happen."

Hatley expected to
lead girls golf team

Junior Rachel Hatley began the season as the girls golf team's top competitor, shooting an 86 in Pickerington North's Panther Invitational on Aug. 4 at Turnberry.

Hatley is expected to step into the role vacated by 2017 graduate Grace Hippler, whose father, 11th-year coach Greg Hippler, expects Hatley to share a distinction with his daughter by the end of her career.

"Grace is the only girl I've coached that had her scores count in every tournament all four years, and Rachel has a chance to do the exact same thing. Where she is right now, I see that happening," coach Hippler said. "We're young varsity-wise ... (and) each girl is at a different level. Rachel played a lot of summer tournaments and she came in ready. We are working on different things all the way across the board."

Canal Winchester shot a 403 in the morning wave Aug. 4 to finish eighth of 11 teams behind champion Independence (343).

Seniors Leah Arndt, Emily Clubb and Morgan Gleadle, junior Abby Vaughan and sophomore Erin Booher round out the roster as the Indians try to return to the Division I district tournament for the fourth time in five years.

Canal Winchester shot a 384 in the first round of the four-round OCC-Central tournament Aug. 9 at Cooks Creek, placing fourth behind Upper Arlington (299), Dublin Coffman (324) and Hilliard Davidson (369) and ahead of Marysville (406) and New Albany (408). Hatley shot an 81 to lead the Indians, who went 15-13 in the OCC-Ohio last year to tie Davidson for third behind UA (27-1).

The second round was scheduled for Aug. 15 at Westchester.

"We're in a tough division," coach Hippler said, adding that he wants the team to average about 375 per 18 holes. "Arlington is going to be strong again. They're young, but they will be very good. Davidson will be strong and Coffman will have a nice team. If we can somehow finish in the top three or four, the upper half of our division, I think that's a pretty good accomplishment."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 4 -- Granville Shootout at The Links at Echo Springs

Aug. 7 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 8 -- OCC-Capital at Clover Valley

Aug. 11 -- Bloom-Carroll Invitational at Pine Hill

Aug. 14 -- OCC-Capital at Darby Creek

Aug. 16 -- No Name Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 24 -- Pickerington Central at Westchester

Aug. 30 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry

Sept. 2 -- Bexley Invitational at Westchester

Sept. 6 -- Westerville North at Blacklick Woods

Sept. 9 -- Liberty Union Invitational at Pine Hill

Sept. 13 -- OCC-Capital at Apple Valley

Sept. 18 -- Bloom-Carroll at West-chester

Sept. 20 -- Westerville North at Westchester

Sept. 21 -- Bexley at Westchester

Sept. 23 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry

Sept. 26 -- DeSales and Pickerington Central at Turnberry

Sept. 28 -- Bloom-Carroll at Pine Hill

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 4 -- Panther Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 7 -- Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson

Aug. 9 -- OCC-Central at Cooks Creek

Aug. 15 -- OCC-Central at Westchester

Aug. 23 -- Gahanna and Upper Arlington at Raymond Memorial

Aug. 29 -- OCC-Central at Mentel Memorial

Sept. 7 -- Hilliard Darby at West-chester

Sept. 11 -- Gahanna and Upper Arlington at Kyber Run

Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Royal American

Sept. 20 -- Gahanna and Upper Arlington at Westchester

Sept. 23 -- Marysville Invitational at Darby Creek

Sept. 25 -- Lancaster at Valley View

Sept. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester

Oct. 7 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at The Links at Groveport

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 15 -- vs. Hamilton Township

Aug. 17 -- vs. Central Crossing

Aug. 22 -- at Lancaster

*Aug. 24 -- vs. Big Walnut

*Aug. 29 -- at Groveport

Aug. 30 -- vs. Circleville

*Aug. 31 -- at Franklin Heights

*Sept. 5 -- vs. New Albany

*Sept. 7 -- at Newark

Sept. 9 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament

Sept. 11 -- at Reynoldsburg

Sept. 12 -- at Westland

Sept. 13 -- at Whitehall

Sept. 18 -- at Bexley

Sept. 19 -- vs. Northland

Sept. 20 -- at Teays Valley

Sept. 25 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll

Sept. 26 -- at Granville

Oct. 2 -- vs. Grandview

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 21 -- New Albany Classic

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 19 -- At DeSales

Aug. 22 -- At Gahanna

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 22 -- At Upper Arlington

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 19 -- At Dublin Scioto with Hamilton Township

Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Central Crossing