Four wins away from their second consecutive Division I state doubles championship, New Albany High School boys tennis players Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose feel like they still have a lot of improving to do.
Boyer and Jose remain focused as the state tournament approaches Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"There are still things we can work on to play our best and be at another level," Boyer said. "We want to finish at the net more and get to the net more and be effective. When our opponents come to the net, we want to find ways to hit around them."
Boyer and Jose went 3-1 in the district tournament that concluded May 18 at Reynoldsburg, sweeping into the final before losing to Olentangy Orange's Tommy Heiden and Soham Pradhan 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the championship match.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state.
Boyer and Jose, who played doubles just once during the regular season -- May 7 against Pickerington North -- shut out Pickerington Central's Stevan Klein and Karson Stanley 6-0, 6-0 in the first round at district and qualified for state with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Upper Arlington's Paige Kompa and Will Reynolds. They beat Olentangy's Omar Khayat and Sam Routzahn 6-3, 7-6 (6-3) in a semifinal.
"At the beginning (of the season), I kind of knew we'd be a doubles team but I wasn't sure," Boyer said. "It is a huge relief to get to state. We have to finish the right way."
Boyer and Jose will be joined at state by teammate Ryan Mudre, who went 3-1 at district and finished third in singles. He beat Dublin Coffman's Luke Ritchie 6-0, 6-4 in the first round and swept Dublin Jerome's Max Fickas 6-2, 6-2 in a state-qualifying match before losing to St. Charles' Reece Yakubov 6-4, 6-1 in a semifinal.
Mudre defeated Jerome's Anish Patel 6-0, 6-0 in the third-place match.
"I've become much better mentally, just being stronger and dealing with adversity," said Mudre, who went 0-1 at state last year as a freshman. "I played a lot of doubles this year, but I think I've become a better singles player. I think I'm comfortable with both, but maybe more with singles because I used to play that a lot when I was younger. If I am missing a lot of shots, I have to stay calm."
Also competing but failing to advance was the doubles team of Dev Vasani and Ben Yan. They lost to UA's Emerson Dean and Nathan Yu 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6-3) in the first round.
Regardless of what happens at state, the Eagles know their season will conclude Sunday, May 26, during the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state team tournament at Reynoldsburg. New Albany beat visiting Jerome 3-0 in the district final May 14, improving to 15-1.
The Eagles will play Cincinnati Sycamore or Mason in a state semifinal. The first- and third-place matches will be later that day.
New Albany has been OTCA state runner-up each of the past two years and finished third in 2016.
"The whole season has been (about) trying to get better and progress toward a big moment at the end. This was another step in that direction," coach Marc Thomas said. "We're trying to focus on what's next. We enjoy it for a little while and then don't look too far ahead or behind us, either. We're trying to stay in the moment and continue to play the best we can with every opportunity."
Track athletes qualify for regional
Henry Zimmerman's championship in the boys discus (168 feet) led the track and field teams in the Division I, district 2 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby.
Michiah Burton was runner-up in the 100 meters (11.32 seconds) and was on the second-place 400 relay (42.77) with Alex Cox, Julian Meacham-Dean and Anthony Walters to lead the Eagles to 32 points and a tie for ninth behind co-champions Canal Winchester and Pickerington North (84) as 16 teams scored.
For the girls, Sammie Sika was second in the 3,200 (12:13.44) as New Albany finished sixth (44) behind champion Gahanna (186) as 14 teams scored.
The 400 relay of Rachel Blais, Annette Opoku, Jayla Reese and Nicole Stewart was third (49.89), Stewart finished fourth in the 100 (12.63) and the 3,200 relay of Kiara Crumbley, Mia Lachey, Lindsey Neff and Sika was fourth (9:58.91).
The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional May 22 and Friday, May 24, at North.
At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Baseball team advances to semifinal
The baseball team played OCC-Capital Division rival Groveport, the only team to which it lost during the regular season, in a Division I district semifinal May 20.
The winner played fifth-seeded Gahanna or 15th-seeded Central Crossing in a district final May 22. The district champion advanced to a regional semifinal May 30 at Coffman.
Top-seeded New Albany was 25-1 before playing the 20th-seeded Cruisers.
The Eagles won their tournament opener, 10-0 in five innings over visiting and 39th-seeded Teays Valley in a second-round game May 15. Jack Sokol struck out three in 4 1/3 innings and the Eagles outhit the Vikings 12-2.
Girls lacrosse team begins tourney
The girls lacrosse team began the Division I, Region 1 tournament with a 20-2 rout of visiting and ninth-seeded Wadsworth in a quarterfinal May 17, and played host to fifth-seeded Medina in a regional semifinal three nights later.
Chloe Platte had four goals and Jillian Bingman and Alyssa Kneedler each added three goals for top-seeded New Albany, which was 16-3 before playing Medina.
The winner will play second-seeded Olentangy or third-seeded Olentangy Liberty in regional final Thursday, May 23, at a neutral site. The regional champion will play Avon, Cleveland Heights, Hudson or Massillon Jackson in a state semifinal Wednesday, May 29, at a neutral site.
The state final is June 1 at Ohio Wesleyan.
Of those teams, the Eagles defeated Liberty 7-2 on April 3, Olentangy 19-6 on April 16, Hudson 18-8 on April 26 and Jackson 12-4 on May 3.
Boys lacrosse team falls to Cardinals
The boys lacrosse team's season came to an end May 17 with a 5-4 home loss to fifth-seeded St. Charles in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal.
Brayden Wong had two goals and Max Dupler and Brode White each added one for the third-seeded Eagles, who finished 15-5. Goalkeeper Perry Doran made eight saves.
New Albany began the postseason May 14 by defeating visiting and 15th-seeded Gahanna 18-0 in a first-round game. Cody Roberts, White and Wong each had four goals and Alex Brendle added two.
Boys volleyball team loses tourney opener
The 15th-seeded boys volleyball team ended its season with a marathon match against 14th-seeded Thomas Worthington, falling 25-19, 15-25, 19-25, 26-24, 19-17 in the first round of the Division I East Region tournament May 17 at Orange.
New Albany, which lost a regular-season match to DeSales 25-22, 27-29, 25-15, 25-10 the night before, finished 6-16. That was a five-win improvement from its inaugural season of 2018, when the Eagles went 1-16.