Nate Meadors and Pranav Murali understand what they'll be up against when the Division I postseason begins next week.
The seniors played doubles together last season for the Dublin Jerome High School boys tennis team, beating Olentangy's Pradhit Gosula and Alex Ulry 6-0, 6-1 in the district tournament before losing to St. Charles' Evan Yakubov and Jack Dabek 6-1, 6-1 in a state-qualifying match.
While Gosula and Ulry also played doubles during the regular season last year, Yakubov and Dabek were among the numerous competitors from central Ohio who played singles during the regular season before teaming up in doubles for the postseason.
In fact, of the players on the four doubles teams from the Central District that qualified for state last year, only Upper Arlington's Jack Schadek wasn't primarily a singles competitor during the regular season.
The way Meadors and Murali see it, though, their experience playing together will benefit them in the postseason.
"It helps because we have a chemistry on the court," Murali said. "We've been playing together the past couple seasons and we both know what we're going to do on the court and know each other's tendencies and what both of us do."
The strength the Celtics have at first doubles with Meadors and Murali is one of the reasons they were 10-1 overall before facing Wellington on May 1 and went 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to win their fourth consecutive league title.
Jerome will compete in the Hilliard Bradley sectional May 10 and 12 and has two of the top contenders to reach district from the site in singles in top-seeded Anish Patel and fourth-seeded Daniel Utkin.
In doubles, Meadors and Murali are seeded second behind Olentangy Orange's Jordan Phelps and Alex Heiden, both of whom have played singles for most of the regular season.
Jerome's other postseason entrants are Andrew Dvorkin in singles and Dhruva Gurushankar and Dylan Cai in doubles.
Meadors and Murali were seeded second at last year's Pickerington Central sectional and lost to Heiden and Jordan Phelps of Orange in the sectional final, while Utkin and Michael Lin finished third in doubles.
"When you can develop that chemistry, that's always a bit of an advantage," coach Ken Berlin said. "(Meadors and Murali have) been playing regularly together for two years now and a lot of times in doubles there's that uncertainty of whose ball it is when it's in the middle. When you've played together as long as they have, you know who's going to take the 50-50 balls."
Meadors' serve might be the biggest strength from a physical standpoint when the two are on the court together, but the duo also have become adept at knowing how to encourage each other.
"If I'm down, he'll pick me up, and if he's down, I'll pick him up," said Meadors, whose uncle, Brad Meadors, played for Xavier University from 2000-04. "If we lose a point, we know exactly what to say to each other. It's like my serve is paired with his volley. My serve is my biggest part of my game. I have a really big serve and have some spin on it. I'll try to hit that spot and Pranav will end up just putting it away, so it's kind of that one-two combo that we have."
Meadors plans to play for Ohio Northern next season, while Murali will attend Ohio State and hopes to play for its club team.
Both are looking forward to their final weeks together on the Celtics.
They first teamed up in doubles at a tournament about four years ago at the USTA level.
"The more we play together, the more we understand each other," Murali said.
Girls lacrosse team defends OCC title
After a slow start, the girls lacrosse team entered the week on a seven-game winning streak.
The Celtics earned at least a share of their second consecutive OCC-Cardinal title with a 15-3 victory over Worthington Kilbourne on April 26 and beat Westerville Central 12-0 on April 28.
Jerome was 9-3 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Scioto on May 1.
The Celtics visit defending Division I state champion Upper Arlington on Tuesday, May 8.
According to coach Kendall Gordon, midfielder Gabby Rothermund, defender Antavia Horne, attacker Mandy Menning and goalkeeper Mackenzie Potts have been leading the team.
"Gabby has just been dominating on the draw, and that's been one of the things that's contributing to our success," Gordon said. "It's really hard to beat a team when you can't get the ball. Mackenzie has been a brick wall at goalie for us and is doing an awesome job. We're doing well."
Track teams prep for league meet
The boys and girls track and field teams have just one regular-season meet remaining -- the Jaguar Invitational on Friday, May 4, at Hilliard Bradley -- before preparing for the OCC-Cardinal meet May 10 and 12 at Coffman.
In the Marion Night Invitational on April 27 at Harding, the boys finished sixth (50 points) of 14 teams, behind champion Ashland (91), and the girls were eighth (50) of 15 teams, behind champion Olentangy Liberty (119).
The 3,200-meter relay of Elliott Cook, Arjun Dhankani, Alex Sanders and Chris Viola was runner-up (8 minutes, 17.4 seconds) for the boys squad and has been among the bright spots this season, according to boys coach Kalvin McRae.
Also at Harding, Cook finished first in the 400 (49.5), Alec Scheurle was runner-up in the discus (132 feet, 3 inches), Frank Blair took third in the long jump (20-9 3/4) and both Scott Sonnanstine in the 300 hurdles (42.85) and Carson DeCarlo in the pole vault (12-6) were fourth.
Anthony Alvarez, a middle distance runner who also competes in the long jump and high jump, is another athlete who has impressed McRae.
"I'm really happy with the kids," McRae said. "Elliott Cook is most definitely where we thought he'd be. I'm really happy with where we're at right now."
For the girls team at Harding, Jessica Blake won the 300 hurdles (49.22), Sydney Browning placed third in the 100 (13.07) and sixth in the 200 (27.4), Larkin Thomas finished fourth in the 800 (2:31.48), Paige Elder was fifth in the discus (97-0) and the 1,600 relay of Nadia Coalter, Alexandra Dean, Emily Oiler and Thomas finished fifth (4:22.26).
"I've seen lots of really positive attitudes," girls coach Randi Beatty said. "They're having fun, they're enjoying it and are super supportive of one another."
Below are the coming schedules for the Jerome baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
May 3 -- Home vs. Coffman
May 5 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central and Big Walnut
May 7 -- Home vs. 28th-seeded Groveport in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson in second round May 9. Jerome is seeded 17th.
May 4 -- Home vs. Springboro
May 5 -- Home vs. Hamilton (Ind.) Southeastern
May 8 -- At Upper Arlington
May 3 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
May 5 -- Home vs. *Scioto and Coffman in Battle of Dublin
May 7 -- Home vs. 21st-seeded Upper Arlington in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays at 13th-seeded Olentangy in second round May 9. Jerome is seeded 17th.
May 3 -- At Olentangy
May 8 -- Home vs. St. Charles
TRACK & FIELD
May 4 -- Jaguar Invitational at Hilliard Bradley
*May 3 -- At Delaware
May 4 -- At Scioto with Coffman in Battle of Dublin
*May 8 -- Home vs. Scioto