Upper Arlington High School boys tennis coach Will Thieman began the season in no hurry to name his first singles player, and neither of the candidates for that spot seemed to mind.
"To me, they're 1-A and 1-B," Thieman said of senior Paige Kompa and junior Will Reynolds.
Kompa, a University of Dayton recruit, and Reynolds are embracing the situation, considering it a competition between longtime friends rather than a rivalry. Both saw time at first singles last year along with 2018 graduate Josh Cole.
"We're definitely super close and just depending on the day, one person can be better than the other," Kompa said. "We'll shake it up and see what happens. That flexibility is super helpful for our teams, especially against the great teams we play. We definitely are both decent baseliners. We're powerful at the net."
Reynolds, who teamed with Cole to finish third in doubles at the Division I district tournament last season and go 1-1 at state, hopes increased work on his serve will help set the tone for himself and the Golden Bears, who were 4-3 before beginning OCC-Central Division play April 9 against Central Crossing.
"Paige and I are both good players and we can win at either (first or second singles)," Reynolds said. "My serve is a lot better. I was double-faulting a lot last year so I've tried to become more consistent. I'm focusing on always trying to get the ball in and angle the ball more and move around the court better."
Kompa and Reynolds lead seven returnees for UA, which went 11-4 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Central last season to win its 36th consecutive league title, finishing ahead of runner-up Dublin Coffman (3-1).
Also last season, the Bears were Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district runners-up, losing to New Albany 3-1 in the district final.
Other returnees for UA, which has advanced at least one player to state each of the past 60 seasons, are seniors Nick Gruss, Lance Li and Hunter Triplett and juniors Emerson Dean and Nathan Yu.
Senior Jack Rardon, who began the season at third singles but also has played doubles, is a Wittenberg recruit.
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Avi Hary and Joey Holland.
"Early in the season, we'll see what lineups work and which don't and go from there. We won't leave any stone unturned," said Thieman, who is in his third season. "Any time you can compete is good. UA tennis is all about competition, getting each other better and pushing each other. We're pretty deep from (No.) 1 to 10. We can all push each other and get better that way. We'll play some matches and find out."
UA opened March 27 with a 3-2 home win over Bexley and edged host Cincinnati Country Day 3-2 on March 29 before losing 3-2 at Columbus Academy on April 4. The Bears defeated visiting Waverly 4-1 on April 5 before losing 5-0 to both Cincinnati Sycamore and Mason in a quad match April 6 at New Albany.
The Bears rebounded with a 3-2 win at Olentangy on April 8.
"We always get a lot of talented people on the team. Maybe half of us play year-round," Reynolds said. "It's been a lot of fun so far with a lot of energy."
Below is the coming schedule for the Upper Arlington boys tennis team:
*April 11 -- At Hilliard Davidson
April 12 -- Home vs. Massillon Jackson
April 13 -- Home vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
April 15 -- At Olentangy Liberty
April 17 -- Home vs. St. Charles