Members of the Thomas Worthington High School boys tennis team will be looking to add to their strong seasons when they compete in a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Upper Arlington.
Junior Kai Britz, a district qualifier last season, is 13-2 and earned the top seed at the sectional site. He will await the winner of a play-in match between Franklin Heights' Jose Montoya-Mora and Hamilton Township's Aaron Fitzsimmons.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 17 at Hilliard Bradley and May 19 at UA.
"Kai lost a couple of close matches early, but he's peaking now and really rolling up some wins over quality opponents," coach Andrew Sinclair said. "He's peaking at a good time and was able to earn the No. 1 seed because UA put its top singles players in the doubles field. Being the top seed, he's got a very favorable draw."
Also seeded for the Cardinals is the doubles team of junior Aaron Zeller and sophomore Deep Gupta. The duo, who are 14-5, are seeded third and have a first-round bye.
"They are the two most-improved players on the team," Sinclair said. "They are seeded behind two killer doubles teams from UA, but if they play to their ability, they should be able to advance to district and see what happens there. They could be a dark horse there, but only if they remain focused.
"At times, they win the first set and have a bit of a lull in the second and allow their opponents back into the match. They need to put together two strong sets and put their opponents away when they have the chance."
Also competing for Thomas are Will Newberry and Steve Jackman in singles and JunSung Park and Ryley Briones in doubles.
Newberry is 12-4 and will play Marion Harding's Nathan Longstreth in the first round and Jackman is 10-7 and will face Harding's Thomas Butler in the opening round. Park and Briones will play Athens' Josh Goetz and Danny Goetz in their opener.
"Newberry is a freshman who is playing like a veteran and has had quite a good season," Sinclair said. "It's possible that he could qualify to district, but it's a long shot. Same goes for Jackman. He's such a hustler. I'd never count him out.
"Park and Briones have a slight chance to get to a semifinal because the doubles field is so strong. They have the ability to get there, but would have to be on the top of their games."
The Cardinals were 10-5 overall before playing Upper Arlington in an OTCA district quarterfinal May 8 and went 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place second behind Dublin Jerome (6-0). They won the home Worthington Cup on April 28, totaling 12 points to finish ahead of Hilliard Davidson (12), Kilbourne (4) and Olentangy Liberty (4).
"In the past, it was an eight-team format where coaches could bring only four players," Sinclair said. "Being at Thomas this year, I wanted more kids to get the chance to compete, so we cut the teams to four and allowed each of the teams to enter six players. I think it worked well and gave more Worthington kids the chance to experience the event."
Finishing first in the event were Britz at first singles, Newberry at second singles and Zeller and Gupta at first doubles.
Girls lacrosse team places second in OCC
The girls lacrosse team defeated Kilbourne 13-12 on April 30 to finish 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal, placing second behind Jerome (6-0).
The Cardinals lost to Liberty 18-14 on May 3 but defeated Mason 12-7 on May 5 and was 11-4-1 overall before playing Watterson on May 8. They will close the regular season Saturday, May 12, as host to Cincinnati Loveland.
"After the Kilbourne game, we started to change things up and work on things we think will make us stronger in the (Division I, Region 3) tournament," coach Scott Hamilton said. "We'll see what works and then we hope to put everything we have into the Loveland game and play it like a tournament game as a warm-up for the postseason."
The Cardinals are seeded third in the 17-team regional tournament and will play host to 17th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in the first round Monday, May 14. The winner plays fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman or 14th-seeded Bradley in the second round May 18 at the home of the higher seed.
Tori Banks and Julia Geiger both scored three goals against Kilbourne and Rachel Rinaldi, Abbey Midnight and Mollie Estepp all scored two.
"Our midfielders, Tori, Rachel and Julia, are iron women," Hamilton said. "They're running all over the field and never give up on a play. We've had Mackenzie Kneisly step in at goalkeeper for Rosey Seech, who was injured and did a very nice job with the help of defenders Isabella Avila, Reilly Ford, Anneliese Sinclair and Paige Lampman. Rosey should be back this week."
Baseball team falls in tourney opener
The 23rd-seeded baseball team lost to 35th-seeded Central Crossing 2-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7 to finish 8-14 overal1.
Spencer Kiehl pitched a complete game for the Cardinals, allowing just five hits, including a solo run in the top of the seventh inning.
Thomas managed just one hit off Comets pitcher Tyler Ronevich.
The Cardinals entered the postseason having lost seven of their previous eight games. They lost to Kilbourne 10-8 on May 2 to finish 6-6 in the OCC-Cardinal and lost to St. Charles 6-0 on May 4.
Softball team falls to Shamrocks
Seeded 44th of 46 teams in the Division I district tournament, the softball team finished 1-17 after losing at 23rd-seeded Coffman 11-0 in the first round May 7.
The Cardinals, whose lone win was an 8-3 victory over Westland on March 30, lost their final 15 games.
Track teams set for OCC, district meets
The boys and girls track and field teams will compete in the OCC-Cardinal meet Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Coffman.
The Cardinals then will shift their focus to the postseason, where they will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet next week at Hilliard Darby. Running preliminaries will be held Tuesday, May 15, followed by field events May 17 and running finals May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional meet May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Sperlazza named girls basketball coach
Bill Sperlazza has been named girls basketball coach, replacing Laurie Barr, who announced her retirement in mid-March after 10 seasons.
It will be the first head varsity coaching experience for Sperlazza, who is an assistant Columbus city attorney.
Sperlazza was an assistant varsity coach and the head j.v. coach at Hartley last season after holding the same positions at Linden-McKinley the previous two seasons.
"It's my life's dream to be a head varsity basketball coach, to run a program from top to bottom," said Sperlazza, who led the Hartley j.v. team to a 14-3 record last season.
"Coach Sperlazza brings a passion and energy for girls basketball that we are very excited about," athletics director Jen Goebbel said. "He impressed our interview committee with his focus on success through building relationships first and his commitment to instilling a comprehensive offseason lifting and conditioning program. This is an exciting new chapter for our girls basketball program."
The Cardinals finished 11-9 overall and 9-3 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to share the league title with Dublin Scioto. Barr compiled a 104-110 record at Thomas with two league titles and shared league Coach of the Year honors with Scioto's Jen Music last season.
Thomas went a combined 42-22 the past three seasons.
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:
May 15 -- Home vs. ninth-seeded Westerville North in first round of Division I, Region 3 tournament. Winner plays second-seeded Kilbourne, 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 17th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in second round May 18 at home of higher seed. The Cardinals are seeded eighth.
May 10 -- At Hilliard Davidson
May 15 -- OCC Challenge at Hilliard Darby