Coach Lauren Hendricks already feels like her second season leading the Central Crossing High School girls tennis program is going smoother than her first.
Hendricks was hired in late July last year, meaning she entered the first week of practice learning about the skill levels of her players instead of preparing them for the season. After coaching last fall and watching her players in open-court practices in the offseason, both Hendricks and the players believe they are better prepared.
"I feel so much better about this season," said Hendricks, whose team finished 4-12 overall last fall. "Having seen the girls in open courts and having that year of experience makes such a difference. I know how matches will go, I know what paperwork needs to be turned in and I know what we need to focus on."
Seniors Alana Smith and Alexis Young were 1-1 as a doubles team in a Division I sectional a year ago. Young is excited for the season because there's more familiarity between the players and Hendricks.
"Coach wasn't hired until late last summer, so this year things were a little easier," Young said. "We have put in a lot of work to get better."
Central Crossing returns three other postseason competitors in seniors Emma Bachman and Evelyn Pauquette and junior Madison Wallner.
"We have a whole lot of experience back and we have a lot of heart," said Hendricks, whose team opened Aug. 10 with a 5-0 loss to DeSales. "The girls all come ready to play at practice, and they come early and stay late. They want to improve their games."
Pauquette will play first singles with Bachman on the second court. Junior Alina Marko and Wallner are competing for the third-singles spot.
Young and Smith will play first doubles, but the second-doubles court is up for grabs between seniors Stacey Keever and Karen Silva-Revilla and junior Julia Patterson.
Also on the roster are juniors Olivia Antonoff, Emily Creasap, Kaylah Grimes and Sarah Hale, sophomores Lauren Imler, Irnia Meleshchuk, Alina Semchishin and Emily Wright and freshmen Allison Antonoff and Sophia Toscano.
"We don't have a lot of freshmen come out, which is something we would like to have," Hendricks said. "A lot of times, girls don't find out we have a tennis team until they are already in school and the girls on the team tell everyone how much fun they are having. It would be good to get girls out as freshmen so we would have another year to work with them."
The Comets finished fifth (1-4) in the OCC-Central Division last season behind champion Upper Arlington (5-0). They open league play Aug. 23 at UA.
Davern to lead boys golf team
Caleb Davern has his sights set high for his senior season with the boys golf team.
Last fall, Davern finished fourth in the Division I state tournament. The Ohio State recruit shot a two-round total of 148, four strokes behind medalist Maxwell Modolvan of Uniontown Green.
"Caleb really stepped up his tournament schedule over the summer," said coach Justin Prati, who is in his 13th season. "By doing that, some of his scores might not be as low as he might have liked, but it will help prepare him for his senior season and help with his transition into college golf at OSU."
As a freshman, Davern tied for fifth (152) as the program's first state qualifier. He failed to advance from district as a sophomore.
Last season, Davern had a 69.0 average in the four rounds of the OCC-Central tournament to earn his second consecutive league Player of the Year honor. He did not play in the opening round of league action Aug. 7 at Turnberry because he was competing in an American Junior Golf Association tournament.
"Caleb has really been determined to get back to state and win it," Prati said. "He's doing everything he can to get ready."
The Comets have four other golfers, including junior Courtnie Sprouse, who is playing with the boys team because the school does not have a girls program.
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Jackson Phillips and Jimmy Schwinne and freshman Austin Estep.
"Most of the kids are new to the sport except for Jackson, who played last year," Prati said. "They will continue to get better each time they go out and play."
In the opening round of league play, the Comets did not have the four players needed for a team score. Phillips led with a 102, followed by Schwinne (106) and Estep (119).
UA was first (303), followed by Dublin Coffman (304), Hilliard Davidson (316), Marysville (347) and Westland (498).
"They were baptized by fire in their first OCC," Prati said. "We want to keep it exciting for them and keep their interest."
In the second round Aug. 13 at Denison Golf Club, Central Crossing finished fifth (428) behind UA (299), Davidson (319), Coffman (326) and Marysville (350) and ahead of Westland (547). Davern led the Comets with a 76.
Aug. 6 -- Westland at Oakhurst
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Central at Turnberry
Aug. 13 -- OCC-Central at Denison Golf Club
Aug. 21 -- Hilliard Davidson at Oakhurst
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Central at Apple Valley
Sept. 5 -- Westland at Oakhurst
Sept. 8 -- Hickory Hills Invitational at Hickory Hills
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
Sept. 18 -- Thomas Worthington at York
Sept. 22 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 24 -- OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders
Sept. 26 -- Hilliard Davidson at Thorn Apple
Aug. 10 -- vs. DeSales
Aug. 14 -- vs. Teays Valley
Aug. 15 -- vs. Groveport
Aug. 18 -- at Grove City with Franklin Heights and *Westland in SWCS tournament
Aug. 20 -- vs. Ready
Aug. 21 -- at Reynoldsburg
*Aug. 23 -- at Upper Arlington
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Marysville
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 4 -- at Dublin Coffman
Sept. 5 -- at Hamilton Township
Sept. 10 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll
Sept. 13 -- vs. Grandview
Sept. 18 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Sept. 20 -- vs. Westerville South
Sept. 27 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Below are the coming schedules for the Central Crossing cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 20 -- New Albany Invitational
Aug. 18 -- At Teays Valley
Aug. 22 -- At Lancaster
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Logan Elm
Aug. 21 -- At Columbus Academy
Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 20 -- At Fairbanks
Aug. 21 -- At Hamilton Township