First-year Westerville Central High School girls tennis coach Brad Baker hopes to build the program from the ground up.
Baker helped form a club program at the middle school level three years ago. He coached that team, which is based at Genoa Middle School, for two seasons before serving as a volunteer assistant boys and girls coach at Central last year.
Baker replaced Donovon Barrett, who stepped down after 13 seasons and now is the boys basketball coach at Olentangy Berlin. Barrett coached the Central boys basketball team for five seasons.
"We're trying to grow tennis," Baker said. "We're hoping to see the fruits of the middle school team over the next three or four years."
The Warhawks are led by sophomore Levi Burks, who again will play first singles. Last season, she went 2-1 in a Division I sectional tournament, falling one win short of a district berth.
"If you have that kid at No. 1 singles, it makes everything a lot easier," Baker said. "She is real talented. She's a high-level (United States Tennis Association) player."
Senior Shayla Ta will play second singles.
"We'd like to have a winning season," Ta said. "For the game itself, we have to have an attitude to try our best in practice."
Junior Madison Lane, who attended Westerville schools before moving to California before eighth grade, has returned and will play third singles.
Senior Tetyana Onyshko and sophomore Vivian Baker, the coach's daughter, are expected to play first doubles early in the season.
Seniors Malina Gugle and Katie West will play second doubles.
"I like what I see," coach Baker said. "You have the Dublins, the Olentangys and Upper Arlington. My goal is to be part of the conversation. You know who's good in tennis and I'm hoping in the next couple of years people are saying that about Central."
Last season, Central went 6-9 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish fourth behind champion Olentangy Liberty (5-0).
The Warhawks opened Aug. 14 against Worthington Christian and begin league play Aug. 23 against Westerville North.
Baker said the middle school club program is available to boys and girls.
"I have 30 girls on the middle school team," he said. "We didn't have a feeder into high school, so a lot of kids were just picking up a racket and learning how to score for the first time. Now we have kids who have played organized tennis for two years who are now coming into high school."
Sophomore returns to lead boys golf team
Sophomore Joshua Qian has returned for the boys golf team after leading the Warhawks last season, when he shot 75 in the Division I district tournament and was first-team all-OCC-Buckeye.
Qian again competed in several American Junior Golf Association events during the offseason.
"He's had a great summer and he's going to lead us," sixth-year coach Kyle Baker said. "I'm excited to see how a sophomore can lead a team, so we're going to put a lot on his shoulders and I think he's ready for it. I expect him to be one of the best golfers to come out of Westerville Central."
Senior returnees Cory Blankenship and Mwangi Kihara, sophomore Quinn Gallagher and freshman Ryan Dollenmayer should round out the starting lineup.
"We're young, but I like what I see," Baker said. "We have 11 kids in the program, so I'm excited to see how we grow through the year. I was happy with some improvements the boys made from last year to this year. We have some young guys who are going to lead our team, so I'm excited to see that."
Central opened Aug. 4 by finishing ninth (327) behind champion Wellington (297) in the Thomas Worthington Preview at Delaware Golf Club. Qian was second (72) behind Jack Doody (71) of Wellington.
The Warhawks opened league play Aug. 7 at Turnberry and finished fourth (325) behind first-place Liberty (295) as Qian tied for sixth with a 75.
Dollenmayer led Central in the second round Aug. 13 at Apple Valley as he earned medalist honors with a 72. The Warhawks finished third (319) behind first-place Liberty (302).
Last season, Central went 12-8 in the four-round league tournament to finish third behind champion Liberty (20-0).
"With such a young team with a lot of potential I could see us maybe taking some hits early, but learning from them and being able to contend by the end of the year," Baker said. "We have four, five (golfers) who can put scores together and who are very competitive, so they'll be ready to go."
Welty looks to build on success
Junior Grace Welty of the girls golf team is hoping to build on a strong sophomore year, as she shot 77 in the Division I district tournament and was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye.
Fifth-year coach Aaron Starkey said Welty had a busy summer competing in junior events.
"She's been playing a lot over the summer, so her game is at a good point," Starkey said. "I'm expecting for nine holes, she will be shooting in the low 40s and hopefully breaking into the 30s often. She's going to be our No. 1. She's the one I'm counting on to be a rock for our team."
Sophomore Katelyn Neil was honorable mention all-league last season and will be the No. 2 golfer.
Junior Anna Borders will be at No. 3 early in the season, while senior Makiyah Brown and sophomore Zoei Tee are looking to round out the lineup.
"I feel like we've picked up where we left off last year," Starkey said. "We should have three girls consistently shooting in the 40s for nine holes and I'm hoping to find that fourth girl who can consistently start breaking 50 and give us another score in the 40s. Any time you can get four scores in the 40s, you're going to be competitive."
Central began OCC-Buckeye play Aug. 8 at Mentel Memorial, finishing third (385) behind first-place Olentangy Orange (317) as Welty shot an 84.
Last season, the Warhawks went 12-8 in the league to finish third behind champion Orange (19-1), which won its second consecutive Division I state title last season.
"Any time you have the reigning state champ in your division, you go in expecting some stiff competition," Starkey said. "Olentangy Liberty was in contention as well. ... I just hope we can compete a little bit."
Aug. 4 -- Thomas Worthington Preview at Delaware Golf Club
Aug. 7 -- OCC-Buckeye at Turnberry
Aug. 8 -- Westerville Central Invitational at Rattlesnake Ridge
Aug. 9 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Links
Aug. 10 -- Mount Vernon Invitational at Chapel Hill
Aug. 13 -- OCC-Buckeye at Apple Valley
Aug. 14 -- Dublin Invitational at Golf Club of Dublin
Aug. 18 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Buckeye at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 1 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at Pinnacle
Sept. 4 -- DeSales at Champions
Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek
Sept. 13 -- Westerville North and Westerville South at Medallion
Sept. 22 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 25 -- Westerville North and Westerville South at Medallion
Sept. 29 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Tartan Fields
Oct. 6 -- Wedgewood Showcase at Wedgewood
Aug. 7 -- Westerville South at Royal American
Aug. 8 -- OCC-Buckeye at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 9 -- Pickerington North and Teays Valley at Turnberry
Aug. 10 -- Pickerington North Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 13 -- Marysville at Royal American
Aug. 15 -- OCC-Buckeye at Westchester
Aug. 20 -- Hilliard Davidson at Buck Ridge
Aug. 23 -- Westerville North at Royal American
Aug. 29 -- OCC-Buckeye at Royal American
Sept. 4 -- Westerville South at Royal American
Sept. 6 -- Grove City at Oakhurst
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek
Sept. 17 -- Hilliard Davidson and Olentangy at Royal American
Sept. 20 -- Grove City at Royal American
Sept. 22 -- Marysville Invitational at Darby Creek
Sept. 25 -- Olentangy at Oakhaven
Sept. 26 -- Westerville Classic at Royal American
Oct. 6 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
Aug. 14 -- at Worthington Christian
Aug. 16 -- at Pickerington Central
Aug. 18 -- at Westerville North
Aug. 20 -- at Grove City
Aug. 21 -- vs. Gahanna
*Aug. 23 -- vs. Westerville North
Aug. 27 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Aug. 28 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Aug. 30 -- at Olentangy
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 6 -- at Westerville South
Sept. 10 -- vs. Watkins Memorial
Sept. 11 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 13 -- at Pickerington North
Sept. 18 -- at Marysville
Sept. 20 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 22 -- Kim Shepherd Doubles Classic at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 24 -- vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 26 -- vs. Hartley
Sept. 27 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
Aug. 20 -- At Watkins Memorial
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Logan
Aug. 21 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Aug. 18 -- At Central Crossing
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. UA