Second-year Whitehall-Yearling High School boys tennis coach Anthony Paletta again is stressing the importance of a commitment to academics along with a strong work ethic on the court.
"I'm very happy with the number of kids," Paletta said. "It's a lot of work, but I think the word is getting out about the team. It's been a very positive impact and experience for a lot of these guys. Their grades have improved, along with their athletic ability and their teamwork behind all this. I want tennis to impact their academics and help them with their lives."
The Rams, who went 1-9 overall and 0-6 in the MSL-Ohio Division last year, earned their first win this season in their third match, defeating Hamilton Township 4-1 on April 3.
Winners were junior Tobias Guzek 6-2, 6-1 at second singles, freshman Sam McQuate 6-0, 6-0 at third singles, juniors Nemedi Geda and Jacob Clark 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles and juniors Kaleb Regassa and Fraij Adam 6-0, 6-0 at second doubles.
The players rang the school's victory bell in celebration.
"That was a proud moment. I was so excited for these kids," Paletta said. "All their hard work is finally paying off."
The Rams lost to Whetstone 4-1 on March 29 as seniors Seth Coleman and Max McQuate won 1-6, 6-4, 1-0 at second doubles.
Coleman is the only four-year player on the team.
Sophomore Raymond Zhen is expected to split time at first singles with Guzek.
"This sport is amazing," said Guzek, who is in his second season. "I like it that we have more players. It makes you want to practice more since there's more competition on your team."
Other players are seniors Kelvin Gutierrez, Ben Pooch and Brook Wale and juniors Josiah Cambron, John Davis and Sam Hagos.
Whitehall opened MSL-Ohio action with 5-0 losses to Bexley on April 2 and Wellington on April 5. The Rams defeated London 3-2 on April 8 and were 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the league before facing Grandview on April 9.
"We've had a lot more stronger matches," Paletta said. "These kids look like they know what they're doing out there. They're more aggressive. They're talking to each other."
Last season, Whitehall defeated Groveport 3-2 for its lone win.
Another bright spot last season was all three singles players winning first-round matches in a Division I sectional.
Paletta is hoping to build on that achievement this season.
"We have a packed schedule," said Paletta, who completed his first season as girls tennis coach in the fall. "We're trying to build a culture. We also got the players donated rackets."
Baseball coach likes team's progress
First-year baseball coach Johnny DeRing is pleased with his team's progress but is looking for more consistency.
Whitehall was 2-4 before playing Bexley on April 10.
The Rams opened MSL-Ohio play April 8 with a 13-0 loss in five innings at Bexley. Bradley Buchert doubled and Garin Barnes, A.J. Scott and Mitchell Webb all had singles.
Barnes was hitting .368 and Webb was at .357 through six games.
"We dropped a couple tough ones last week, but hoped to bounce back as we start league play," DeRing said. "We've done a good job in transitioning. We just need to put a complete game together. At times we're good on the mound and can't make things happen at the plate and vice versa."
Boys track team defeats Bexley
The boys track and field team turned in a strong effort in a 100-29 win at Bexley on April 4.
Keon Freeman won the shot put (43 feet, 7 inches) and discus (111-7), and Chris Ceasar won the 110-meter hurdles (15.0 seconds) and 300 hurdles (43.1).
The girls lost to Bexley 94-33. Finishing first for the Rams were Liana Betts in the discus (114-5), Makhya Scarboro in the 100 hurdles (19.1) and Ka'Bree Sandifer in the 200 (29.9).