The Whetstone High School girls tennis team is seeking to one-up what it did last season.
Despite returning just two starters last season, the Braves won their eighth consecutive City League title by beating Independence 5-0 in the final.
However, just one starter returns this season.
"I was quite impressed last year because most of our girls were playing varsity for the first time," 10th-year coach Bucky Walters said. "They jelled and took care of business. That's what we're hoping this group can do."
Junior Emma McAdams, who made honorable mention all-City last season, is the lone returning starter.
"Emma was our most improved player last year and the year before," Walters said. "She has a great work ethic and continues to pick things up. She's also the veteran in terms of age. We have no seniors, so this will be a big season for gaining experience and seeing what we've got. I want to use all these girls and rotate them through the lineup, especially at doubles, and see what works."
After competing in doubles last season, McAdams is vying for a singles court, along with sophomore Maizy Pratt and freshmen Alysia Swinehart and Stella Thompson.
"Stella is a strong baseline player who wants to develop her net play," Walters said. "Alysia can play singles and doubles and both of those girls have decent serves. Alysia has a different style than her sister (2018 graduate Arielle Swinehart).
"Maizy is a baseline player who worked extremely hard from last year to this year and is very coachable and willing to learn."
Competing for doubles positions are juniors Sally Brack-ville, Grace Djaodo, Kelsey Henderson and Anita Tamang, sophomores Melia Loar and Libby Weis and freshmen Izzy Park and Sheejal Tamang.
Walters plans to use all 12 players on the roster.
"We're going to mix and match and find good combinations for this season and for the next couple of seasons," he said. "I'm really looking forward to seeing the growth of these girls."
The Braves, who opened Aug. 15 against DeSales and will play host to Ready on Friday, Aug. 17, finished 13-4 overall a year ago and won the City League-North Division at 3-0 to advance to the City final.
The first of Whetstone's four league matches is Sept. 5 at home against Northland.
"The girls are eager to get things going," Walters said. "We had tremendous summer commitment with the bulk of them not missing an event. They've all shown a desire to work hard. I really like the fact that this is a close team already. We do have to find some leadership, but that will come. Being such a green team, that's the one thing that's missing at this point."
Boys golfers again aim for City title
The boys golf team returns four all-league performers from last season when it won the City League title for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons.
That's bad news for the rest of the league.
Returning after making all-league last season are junior Jay Johnson (first team), senior Victor Waitkus (second team), sophomore Nairan Normand (second team) and senior Dominic Spiert (honorable mention).
"Last year, we improved a bunch from the start of the season to the finish and I expect all these guys to start ahead of where they were last year," 10th-year coach Tom Philip said. "If that's the case, we're going to have another strong year."
Completing the roster are juniors Spencer Ball, Ford Buterbaugh and Preston Buterbaugh and freshman Eli Krabill.
"I'm counting on all eight of them to contribute," Philip said. "We only lost one to graduation (in second-team all-league honoree Kalman Buterbaugh), but we've got to position ourselves for the future and see improvement from all of them this year. I really like what I've seen from our newcomer Spencer Ball. Jay, Victor and Spencer could be fighting for the top spot and don't count out Nairan because he works so hard and has great practice ethics."
Last season in the City tournament at Airport, the Braves shot 192 to finish ahead of Centennial (211), Walnut Ridge (246), Mifflin (269), Northland (270), Independence (281) and Briggs (284). West and South did not have team scores.
Combined with regular-season matches, Whetstone totaled 46 points to win the league title, ahead of Centennial (40), Walnut Ridge (34), Mifflin (28), Northland (18), West (12), Briggs (10), Independence (6) and South (0).
Whetstone shot 508 in a Division I sectional at Clover Valley to finish last of 12 teams.
"We've never qualified as a team to district and it's been five or six years since we've had an individual district qualifier," Philip said. "We'd like to see that change this year, but it's a matter of someone getting hot on the right course on the right day."
The Braves have no non-league matches or tournaments again this season. They don't open until Aug. 28 when they compete against Independence and West at Mentel Memorial.
"We practice at Champions because we work there picking the range to help with our fees," Philip said. "The boys get a lot of work in there during the offseason. They seem to have increased their distance and accuracy, although I wish more of them would work on their short games.
"Because we don't have non-league (matches) or enter expensive tournaments, we start the season much later than most teams, so we will be working on our short game the next (two) weeks."
*Aug. 28 -- Independence and West at Mentel Memorial
*Aug. 30 -- Northland and South at Airport
*Sept. 4 -- Briggs and Mifflin at Raymond Memorial
*Sept. 6 -- Centennial and Walnut Ridge at Raymond Memorial
*Sept. 11 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 13 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 18 -- League match at TBA
*Sept. 20 -- League match at TBA
Sept. 27 -- City League tournament at Airport
Note: Second round of league match play determined after first round completed.
Aug. 15 -- vs. DeSales
Aug. 17 -- vs. Ready
Aug. 20 -- at Franklin Heights
Aug. 22 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 25 -- Teays Valley tournament
Aug. 28 -- vs. West
Aug. 29 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 5 -- vs. Northland
Sept. 6 -- vs. Hartley
Sept. 11 -- vs. Eastmoor
*Sept. 12 -- vs. Centennial
*Sept. 13 -- at Beechcroft
Sept. 15 -- Grandview Invitational
Sept. 18 -- vs. Grandview
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Mifflin
Sept. 20 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 24, 26 -- City League tournament at TBA
Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville South
Below are the coming schedules for the Whetstone boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland
Aug. 21 -- At Marion Harding
Aug. 18 -- At Teays Valley
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland
Aug. 18 -- At Grandview
*Aug. 20 -- At Mifflin