Another year, another Ohio Valley Cup tennis championship for Team Columbus.
Comprising four boys and four girls from central Ohio, Team Columbus went 3-0 in the round-robin event held June 16 and 17 in Parkersburg, West Virginia, to return home with the title for the eighth consecutive year.
Team Columbus, which was competing in the four-team large division, defeated Charleston (West Virginia) 9-1, Dayton 8-2 and Cincinnati 7-3.
The Ohio Valley Cup uses a 10-match format, with two singles matches for both boys and girls, two doubles matches for both boys and girls and two mixed-doubles matches.
"Even though it's still competitive, it's more of just a fun tournament," 2018 Olentangy High School graduate Stu Brdicka said. "The competition is a lot tougher at state. I knew going in it wasn't going to be super challenging, but it's a fun time."
Team Columbus consisted of Brdicka, Olentangy Orange senior Alex Heiden, 2018 Orange graduate Jordan Phelps and 2018 Lancaster graduate Colten Clark on the boys side and Pickerington North junior Rhyan Cook, Upper Arlington sophomore Ella Hazelbaker, Dublin Coffman sophomore Lalasa Nagireddy and Orange junior Erin Storrer on the girls side.
Brdicka finished fourth in singles in the Division I state tournament held May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, while Heiden and Phelps reached a state quarterfinal in doubles and Clark lost in the first round at state in singles.
Last fall, Hazelbaker lost in the first round of the girls Division I state tournament in doubles.
For the eighth consecutive year, Team Columbus was coached by Worthington Kilbourne boys coach Steve Metzmaier and Otterbein men's coach Tyler Stephen, who formerly coached the boys and girls teams at Dublin Jerome.
"We reach out to some of the top players in the area," Stephen said. "We've had some success getting some of the better players every year, which is a testament to our kids and their willingness to compete for their communities and for the city of Columbus and, because of that, we've had some success.
"We've built some momentum having some of the best players in the area commit to play, and winning is something everyone wants to do. They see some success and they want to continue building on that."
Clark, Heiden, Phelps and Hazelbaker each went 6-0 in the Ohio Valley Cup.
"They all played really well and we were really proud of how tight-knit the group was and how much fun they had," Stephen said.
Brdicka, Clark and Phelps all have committed to play for Ashland University.
"I wasn't really planning on playing in too many tournaments this summer," Brdicka said. "I was going to relax and work, but I figured I might as well play (in the Ohio Valley Cup). It's my last year of playing junior tournaments."