Semmie Moore hopes to someday be a professional tennis player.

For now, the Pickerington High School Central girls tennis team's only freshman is trying to remain relaxed as she and three teammates prepare for the Division I district tournament that begins Thursday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Bradley.

Moore and Jillian Stang were seeded third in doubles in their home sectional Oct. 6 and 7 and finished second, losing to top-seeded teammates Margaret Gordon and Rachel Terbovich 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

"We keep it fun and relaxed. We don't want to be uptight," said Moore, who mostly played third singles during the regular season. "If we mess up, just focus on the next point and talk it out so it doesn't become a big commotion on the court. My strength is groundstrokes and (Stang) is good with volleys.

"We're a good mix. I like it a lot."

Gordon and Terbovich went 4-0 at sectional, and Moore and Stang finished 3-1.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district, which concludes Saturday, Oct. 14, at Upper Arlington. At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Moore took up tennis at age 4 and was playing in tournaments less than two years later.

"It's something I'd like to take to college, and maybe even pros," Moore said. "I guess we'll see."

Gordon and Stang both are at district for the second consecutive season. Last year, Gordon and 2017 graduate Maddie Bechert won a sectional title, finished third at district and went 0-1 at state, and Stang and Sophie Culver were second at sectional and went 0-1 at district.

Culver played singles at sectional this season, as did Talia DiLello and Ashleigh Gilligan. DiLello went 1-1, while Culver and Gilligan both went 0-1.

Coach Kelli Rings said she deliberated over the postseason lineup for a while, even though the Gordon-Terbovich pairing follows her recent pattern of teaming her top two singles players from the regular season for the postseason.

"This was our best bet," Rings said. "We have two great doubles teams and each of them complement the other well. Both teams are very aggressive and love the net. They are playing fearless tennis. It's up to them what they do on the court from here on out."

Rings played her postseason lineup throughout the final two weeks of the regular season, giving them time to get accustomed to their spots and, in the case of doubles, new partners.

"It took a few matches to figure out how (Gordon) helps me and I help her," Terbovich said.

"We had to try to connect on the doubles court. It's usually first singles and second singles playing together, so that's what I figured would happen. Margaret and I did the best together. It's (Gordon's) defensive shots and my offensive net play that make us connect.

"I have to learn to adapt to going into the net because you generally don't do that in singles."

Rings also was encouraged that despite dropping her top singles players to doubles, Central still finished 22-2. The Tigers' last dual match of the season was a 4-1 win over Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 3.

"We took a chance at losing matches that way, but the girls surprised me, every one of them," Rings said. "They raised their own bar. I am so tickled at realizing the potential of these kids and how strong they really are."

Girls runners seeing improvement

Girls cross country coach Hunter Nichols said his team won't score at the OCC-Ohio Division meet Saturday, Oct. 14, at Lancaster, but it won't be for a lack of trying.

Nichols plans to field four runners in the varsity race, one short of the number needed to record a team score. But despite having just 14 healthy runners in the program, Nichols already considers this a memorable season.

Amber Hamelin's time of 18 minutes, 46.9 seconds in the Midwest Meet of Champions on Sept. 30 at Hilliard Darby is fifth-best in program history and the fastest time since the district split in 2003. Erica Moriarty, a 2003 graduate, set the all-time record of 18:25 in 2001.

"I'm not sure if Amber knew she had it in her," Nichols said. "We are getting some phenomenal results out of our top four girls. I told them (before Sept. 30) that in four of our next five races, we have the chance to lower the (post-split) school record. We did it once. If we do that, they can shave my head.

"If somebody breaks 18:25, I might let them shave it right then."

Nichols planned last week to run Hamelin, Lauren Marvin, Grace Osborn and Maddie Schmidt in the OCC-Ohio meet.

Central finished second (54 points) in the league meet last year, behind Gahanna (26) and ahead of Pickerington North (79), Lancaster (94), Grove City (114) and Reynoldsburg (162).

The boys scored 56 points at last year's league meet, the same amount as Gahanna, but fell to the Lions on the sixth-runner tiebreaker. The Tigers finished ahead of Lancaster (58), North (78), Reynoldsburg (133) and Grove City (159).

"We want to beat Gahanna. That's our top goal," junior Tyler Gunderson said. "This time, I hope we run well enough to get it. I think we can win by a decent amount if we're all healthy and all doing well."

Boys golfers fall short at sectional

Boys golf coach Chris Cores considered his team's fifth-place finish in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Turnberry a microcosm of its season.

The Tigers shot a 330 to finish behind Olentangy Liberty (304) Gahanna (308), Olentangy Orange (311) and Thomas Worthington (328) as 13 teams scored. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.

Scoring for Central were freshmen Jaden Thompson (81) and Aidan Allen (82) and senior Calen Kovaleski (83). Junior Trey Blalock and freshman Blake Bennett both shot an 84, although only one of their scores counted.

"We had a few close losses in the OCC(-Ohio tournament) like that. In the league, that's a two-match swing. Here, that can make or break the season," Cores said.

"We were close. The opportunity was right there for us. We struggled on the front nine and that put us behind the 8-ball. Four of our five guys had better scores on the back nine than on the front, but it just wasn't enough."

Another frustrating aspect for Cores was that if five scores counted, his team would have edged Thomas by four shots, 413-417.

"It's a learning experience for the guys," Cores said. "Every shot counts. In the postseason, everybody feels the pressure."

Central went 12-8 in the OCC-Ohio tournament to finish fourth, behind Gahanna (17-3), Pickerington North (14-6) and Grove City (13-7) and ahead of Lancaster (4-16) and Reynoldsburg (0-20).

The Tigers expect to return their entire lineup next year with the exception of Kovaleski, who played some of his best golf late in the season. He shot a 79 in the final round of the league tournament Sept. 13 at Turnberry and a 78 in the Pickerington Central Invitational 10 days later on the same course.

Young girls golf team saw growth

The girls golf team's entire lineup -- five freshmen and a sophomore -- is expected to return after Central finished seventh in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Westchester.

Sophomore Miriah Gabel and freshman Leah Childers both shot 91 to lead the Tigers to a team score of 391, behind champion Upper Arlington (307) as 11 teams scored. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.

Also scoring for Central were freshmen Makenzie O'Neal (102) and Karlie Skaggs (107). Classmate Riley Stewart shot a 110.

New Albany (328) and North (347) earned the other team district berths.

Freshman Jessica Tarr also competed this season under first-year coach Alecia Larsen.

Gabel was the only holdover from last year, when the Tigers had just three golfers. They grew this year to the point that they could compete in events as a team, as they were able to field at least four golfers all season.

Central went 5-13 in the OCC-Ohio tournament to finish fourth, behind co-champions Gahanna and North (both 16-2) and Grove City (9-9) and ahead of Big Walnut (3-15) and Lancaster (1-9).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS SOCCER

Oct. 14 -- Home vs. Logan

Oct. 18 -- At 26th-seeded Groveport in first round of Division I district tournament. The Tigers are seeded 28th.

GIRLS SOCCER

Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Teays Valley

Oct. 16 -- At 25th-seeded Watkins Memorial in first round of Division I district tournament. The Tigers are seeded 27th.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 27th-seeded Dublin Jerome or 33rd-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in second round of Division I district tournament. The Tigers are seeded ninth.