With junior Nate Stevens and sophomore Michael James among several returnees, DeSales High School boys tennis coach Tom Snyder is certain that the top of his lineup is set.
Stevens is expected to play first singles, at which he went 9-8 last year, ahead of James at second singles.
Behind them, Snyder expects to have some flexibility as the season unfolds.
"The key will be developing the back end of our lineup," said Snyder, who is in his third season.
"(Juniors) Liam Verfurth and Will McAfee-Weatherspoon will each see some time at third singles, but they may play some first doubles as well. They are comfortable playing in both spots. Will has only been playing tennis for a year and has come a long way. Liam is a returning district qualifier in doubles. Their flexibility allows us to tinker with a lineup that gives us the best possibility to win."
DeSales was 2-1 before playing Thomas Worthington on April 8.
The Stallions opened April 2 with a 4-1 loss at Watkins Memorial and followed that up with wins over Mount Vernon (3-2 on April 3 at Otterbein) and Whetstone (3-2 on April 5 at Park of Roses).
McAfee-Weatherspoon played third singles against Watkins Memorial. Junior Miguel Sanchez-Vazquez and sophomore Kevin Heil were at first doubles and senior Ricci Kreuzer and sophomore Isaac Rush played second doubles.
Verfurth is the Stallions' only returning Division II district qualifier. He and 2018 graduate Kevin Rush went 0-1 at district in doubles.
Heil, James and sophomore Sam Secrest, who is not on the team this season, combined for 20 wins as freshmen. Kreuzer is in his first year with the team.
Snyder is hopeful that James can sustain the momentum he gained at the end of last season, when he came within one match of advancing to district.
"He has a lot of ability but struggled with consistency early on during his freshman season. However, he was playing his best tennis at the end of the year," Snyder said. "I'm excited to see if he can take that next step."
Rounding out the roster are senior Anthony Aventino and sophomore Isaiah Rush.
Last season, the Stallions went 10-5 overall -- their most wins since 2011 -- and 2-2 in the CCL, finishing third behind champion St. Charles (4-0). DeSales begins league play Tuesday, April 16, against the Cardinals at Columbus School for Girls.
For the second consecutive season, the Stallions will not play any matches on their home courts because of construction. Their five designated home matches are split between Woodward Park, Otterbein, Park of Roses and Wolfe Park.
Boys team beginning season shorthanded
Three meets last week to begin the season gave first-year track and field coach Tim Jewett a lot to work with regarding his boys team's lineup, which he saw as a bonus given that some of his top athletes are injured.
DeSales opened April 2 with a 65-55 loss at Worthington Kilbourne and finished third (36) in a quad meet the next night at Olentangy Orange behind the Pioneers (134) and St. Charles (58) ahead of Franklin Heights (19) before tying Chillicothe for 13th (13) in the 16-team Stingel Invitational on April 6 at Pickerington North as defending Division I state champion Pickerington Central won (111.75).
The 3,200-meter relay of seniors Ian McCandlish and Jonathan Pusateri, junior John Shoemaker and sophomore Aidan Williams led the Stallions in the Stingel Invitational with a fourth-place finish (8 minutes, 41.63 seconds). McCandlish was sixth in the 400 (50.15) and junior Isaiah Thomas finished seventh in the 200 (22.99).
"It's been pretty challenging, a busy week, but the kids have gotten in a lot of work and we want the younger kids in particular to get a lot of opportunities to compete," Jewett said. "We've been scheduling a few more (meets) just so we get a chance to see them perform."
Jewett was co-coach last year and took over head-coaching duties when Ben McGinnis stepped down after six seasons. Jewett coached Upper Arlington's boys team from 2014-16.
Among the athletes hurt to start the season are senior Angelo Ricci, who finished eighth in the long jump at last year's Division II state meet, and classmates Noah Thompson (hurdles, sprints) and Caden Zellner (sprints). McCandlish and Zellner were on the 1,600 relay that placed fourth at state last year, and Ricci and Thomas helped the 800 relay place sixth.
In the Division II state indoor meet March 2 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, McCandlish placed fifth in the 400 (50.51) and Ricci was fifth in the long jump (20 feet, 8 1/4 inches).
Other expected contributors include juniors Jaylen Ball (sprints), Nico Cadena (distance), Luke Jewett (throws) and Jordan Reeves (hurdles, sprints) and sophomores Nathan Barber (sprints), Jack Laugherty (throws), Quintell Quinn (sprints), Marcus Ray (throws) and Aiden Williams (distance).
The Stallions are seeking their third CCL championship in four years.
Girls team includes mix of experience
Jewett pointed to senior leadership and promising performances from underclassmen as reasons for optimism with the girls track and field team.
Seniors Lexi Hall (sprints), Lindsay Plymale (sprints) and Stephanie Suh (jumps, sprints) are among several returnees, although Hall was hurt to begin the season.
Junior Raina Jackson was second in the shot put (34-3) at the Stingel Invitational, and freshman Lauren Mahle finished seventh in the long jump (15-2 3/4).
Freshman Maryanne Boyle placed 23rd in the Division I state indoor meet in the high jump (4-8).
"We have a lot of youth and a lot of energy with some good senior guidance that will help (the younger athletes)," Jewett said. "Stephanie's kind of a hybrid. She can be in the 800 if we need her to and she can do the long jump and run the (1,600 relay). Lindsey can sprint really well and then come back and run a great 800. We have some talented young girls who are showing a lot and continuing to get better."
The Stallions, who haven't had any regional qualifiers since 2016, lost to Kilbourne 81-72 on April 2, finished second (51) in a tri-meet April 3 behind host Orange (183) and ahead of Franklin Heights (13) and finished last (13) in the 16-team Stingel Invitational behind champion Orange (135).
Other contributors will include senior Ryan Secrest (sprints), juniors Cate Leithauser (distance), Elena McSweeny (distance), Chelsea Thornton (sprints) and Anya Vanasdale (distance), sophomores Cara Jewett (sprints), Alexis Johnson (hurdles, sprints) and Gracey Wilson (distance) and freshmen Lizzy Gutman (distance) and Libby Ruff (distance).
"I really like our depth and camaraderie," Jewett said. "Quite a few kids who ran cross country are coming into track season with some solid performances. We got good experience during the indoor season. We want to keep raising the bar."
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 12 -- Home vs. Watterson
April 13 -- At Marysville
*April 15 -- Home vs. Ready
April 16 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
*April 17 -- At St. Charles
April 11 -- Home vs. Granville
April 13 -- At Upper St. Clair (Pa.)
April 17 -- Home vs. St. Charles
*April 11 -- Watterson at Fortress Obetz
April 12 -- At Olentangy Orange
*April 16 -- At Hartley
April 12 -- Home vs. Groveport
April 13 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
*April 15 -- Home vs. Hartley. The Stallions defeated the Hawks 7-0 on April 3.
April 16 -- At Gahanna
April 17 -- Home vs. West Jefferson
April 11 -- At Granville
April 13 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Classic
April 15 -- Bloom-Carroll at Wolfe Park
*April 16 -- St. Charles at Columbus School for Girls
April 17 -- At Westerville North
TRACK & FIELD
April 12 -- Chieftain Relays at Bellefontaine
April 17 -- Gahanna Relays
April 13 -- Olentangy Orange Invitational
April 15 -- At Licking Heights
April 16 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon