Being in the same league and division as three of the area's top programs means that the Worthington Christian High School boys tennis team understands the challenges that lie ahead this spring.
The Warriors went 7-4 last season despite having just two seniors among their top players, and their only senior this spring is expected to see limited action in doubles.
Still, the group as a whole doesn't lack experience or a team-first approach, according to second-year coach Dino Tsibouris, as the Warriors attempt to navigate a schedule that includes challenging matches Tuesday, April 9, against Columbus Academy, April 11 against Wellington and April 16 against Bexley.
"This team has been a fun team, and they've been together a number of years so there's a lot of camaraderie," Tsibouris said. "We're going to have a very solid season. With three of the top Division II teams being in our MSL conference, we've definitely got some challenges, but we'll definitely be solid and have a winning season."
Worthington Christian, which is not competing in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament that was won by Wellington last year, opened April 1 with a 4-1 loss to Big Walnut and played its league opener April 2 against Grandview.
Junior Peter Tsibouris played second singles and lost in the first round of the Division II sectional at Academy last season, but should spend most of this season at first singles.
Juniors Benjy Homoelle and Tommy Robinson, who teamed up in doubles to finish third at sectional before losing in the first round of the district tournament last season, could see time at both second and third singles.
Junior Aaron Pettit and sophomore Davis Homoelle are slated for first doubles and also could see time in singles, with juniors Jake Flanigan and Caleb Slagle likely seeing the bulk of their action at second doubles.
Nathaniel Lawrence, who played three matches last season, is the only senior.
Junior David Reid and freshmen Wyatt Kearns, Lucas Letizia and Success Oguntuyi are others looking to contribute.
Offseason work aids baseball team
With just three seniors and one junior in its program, the baseball team emphasized the importance of the offseason.
The result is a squad that should be physically stronger and more prepared to face the rigors of an MSL-Ohio schedule in which the Warriors lost three one-run games a season ago, according to a coaching staff that includes 16th-year head coach Tim Kraynak and assistant Michael Kraynak.
"We committed to lifting regularly in the offseason again this year and think that has paid off in our overall team strength and conditioning," Michael Kraynak said. "Our focus so far has been to get better each day in practice while building an identity in the way we play. The guys take coaching really well and have formed a great team chemistry. Practices have been energetic and competitive."
The Warriors opened with wins over Marion Elgin (18-0 on March 27) and West Liberty (Kentucky) Morgan County (8-7 on March 28) at The Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Worthington Christian begins MSL-Ohio action Monday, April 8, at Grandview. Last season, the Warriors went 9-14 overall and 5-5 in the league.
Seniors Derek Fabian (C/P), Nathan Sewall (P/1B) and Nathaniel Elliott (OF), junior Jack Lockhart (INF/P) and sophomore Ethan Kraynak (INF/C) are the top returnees.
Last season, Sewall went 2-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 55 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings, and both he and Lockhart were named second-team all-league while Kraynak was honorable mention all-league.
Fabian missed most of last season with a broken wrist but returned for the final five games and hit .556 (10-for-18 with one walk) with seven runs scored and went 1-1 with a 0.79 ERA in nine innings pitched.
Sophomores Braden Anderson (P/OF), Will Cain (INF), Trustin Chaffin (INF/P), Levi Hammond (INF/P) and Jackson Moore (OF/P) and freshman D.J. Moore (OF) also are key players.
Sophomore Simon Haller (INF) and freshmen Carson Graham (OF) and Jack Harper (utility) are others on the roster.
"The guys take coaching really well and have formed a great team chemistry," Michael Kraynak said. "Practices have been energetic and competitive. We'd like to see our team improve consistently throughout the year and be playing our best baseball as we head into the end of the season."
Below are the coming schedules for the Worthington Christian baseball, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
April 4 -- At East Knox
*April 8 -- At Grandview
April 9 -- Home vs. Cardington
*April 10 -- Home vs. Grandview
April 4 -- At East Knox
April 6 -- At Wellington
*April 8 -- Home vs. Bexley
April 9 -- Home vs. Northridge
April 4 -- At Village Academy
*April 9 -- At Columbus Academy
TRACK & FIELD
April 6 -- Liberty Union Invitational
April 9 -- At Westerville Central