Taylor Fultz came out for the Grandview Heights High School girls tennis program as a freshman just to be around her friends, but the experience has become much more.
The junior plays first singles for the Bobcats and has grown to love the sport and its family atmosphere.
"My first year playing tennis was freshman year," Fultz said. "All of my friends were doing it and we thought it would be fun. We played some over the summer and found out that we weren't awful, so we decided to play.
"Being around my teammates is the best part. We listen to music and have fun on the bus going to matches. We're all really close like a family."
Coach Kathy Kinnard said Fultz has set herself apart from the crowd.
"Taylor brings a positive spirit and an improved tennis game from last year," said Kinnard, whose team was 3-10 overall before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 1 and 1-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division before playing Bexley on Oct. 2. "She took some private lessons over the summer and really has gotten into tennis.
"She has shown a marked improvement over last year, especially with a stronger groundstroke game. She's a quiet leader, but the kids respect her game and everything she has put into it. She is hands down our best tennis player."
Fultz realized she needed to have lessons during the offseason if she was going to play first singles. She entered the Kilbourne match with a 3-10 record, but she's always facing her opponent's top player.
"I go into (playing first singles) to do my best, and that's all I can do," she said. "Some of the girls I play against have been playing since they were about 5 (years old) and I have been playing going on three years now. I just go in to do my best and try to take a couple points.
"I had like 10 lessons over the summer from coach Kim Harclerode, who helped me a lot. The speed of my game has improved. I used to just try to get the ball back over but now I have been working on winning shots. I used to hit it lightly with more of a loop in it but now I have some top-spin on the ball."
Kinnard said Fultz has made the effort to improve her game, but needs continued work in the offseason.
"She has a lot of self-motivation to get better," Kinnard said. "She really enjoys the sport and still has a lot to learn about it. Her strength has been her serves and her groundstrokes. It's our hope to add some volleying and a little more offense to her game. She's pretty much a defensive player, but she doesn't make a lot of unforced errors."
The Bobcats will compete in a Division II sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Columbus Academy. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 at Columbus School for Girls and Oct. 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Fultz will be joined in singles at sectional by Liz McDermott and Kayla Ward. Playing doubles will be the teams of Emmy Davis and Martina Moncolova and Kate Kukura and Ava Rehbeck.
Fultz said Kinnard has been integral to her improvement on the court.
"Coach has taught me the basics and has helped my overall game get better," Fultz said. "She has made me love the sport.
"One thing that I love about it is that every match is a new match, and you have to keep going with it. If you have a bad day, you can't have a bad mentality. You have to change and stay positive or you won't be getting anywhere."
Cincione advances to district in golf
Aaron Cincione needed a playoff to advance to the Division III boys golf district tournament Oct. 3 at Denison Golf Club.
In a sectional Sept. 28 at Turnberry, Galion Northmor's Hayes Bentley was the top individual qualifier to district with an 80, while Cincione tied Morral Ridgedale teammates Grant Park and Brock Williams at 81. Cincione and Williams both were two strokes better than Park on the first playoff hole to earn the final two individual-qualifying spots.
At district, the team champion and the top individual not on that team advanced to state Oct. 12 and 13 at NorthStar.
In a Division II girls golf sectional Sept. 24 at Blacklick Woods, Jenna Richards shot a 106 to tie for 13th of 49 players.
Day propelling boys soccer team
Manny Day had 26 goals and five assists through 13 games to lead the boys soccer team, which was 9-2-2 overall and 1-1-1 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Academy on Oct. 3.
The senior forward had three goals Sept. 19 in a 5-3 win over Bexley in league play, and four in a 12-4 win over Cristo Rey on Sept. 25. Day also had two goals in a 5-1 win over Central Crossing on Sept. 27 and two Sept. 29 in a 2-1 win at Cincinnati Summit Country Day, which defeated Grandview 3-2 in a Division III state semifinal last year.
Taylor leading volleyball team
Katherine Taylor led the offensive attack for the girls volleyball team through 16 matches.
The senior middle hitter had 55 kills, 36 aces and 18 blocks to pace the Bobcats, who were 5-12 overall and 0-5 in the MSL-Ohio before playing Bexley on Oct. 2.
Defensive specialist Janey Coplan had team highs of 108 digs and 49 aces, and setter Taylor Sanzo led with 144 assists to go with 92 digs and 43 aces. Outside hitter/back-row player Leila Meyer had 70 digs and 30 aces, and outside hitter Grace Rubin had 43 kills.
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 6 -- Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 6 -- At Zanesville
Oct. 8 -- vs. Mansfield Christian
Oct. 9 -- At Hartley
*Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Whitehall. The Bobcats lost to the Rams 25-19, 25-19, 24-26, 25-23 on Sept. 6.
*Oct. 9 -- At Columbus Academy. The Bobcats lost to the Vikings 25-18, 25-12, 17-25, 25-16 on Sept. 13.