As he was formulating the postseason lineup for the Olentangy Liberty High School boys tennis team, coach Josh Matusky sensed that junior Marcelo Aguilar and sophomore Vishnu Bodavula could be capable of making a run.
His hope was backed up as Aguilar and Bodavula became the first doubles team in program history to advance to the Division I state tournament.
They will open state Friday, May 24, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason as a No. 4 seed against Findlay's Drew Swisher and Max Hosey after finishing fourth in the district tournament May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
"They grind it out every day, practicing before practice, after practice," Matusky said. "The second they woke up they thought about making states every day. It was all they could think about and talk about. They wanted it."
Bodavula and Aguilar opened district with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Big Walnut's Gabe Mexicott and Matt Pushkin and then beat Upper Arlington's Nathan Yu and Emerson Dean 7-6 (7-0), 1-6, 6-3 to qualify for state.
After losing to Orange's Alex Heiden and Soham Pradhan 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a semifinal, Aguilar and Bodavula lost to Olentangy's Omar Khayat and Sam Routzahn 7-6 (6-4), 6-4 in the third-place match.
"It feels so good," Bodavula said. "We worked really hard all season and it paid off. It's amazing. We just stayed mentally composed. We were in a little bit of trouble (against Yu and Dean) even in the first set and we just had to fight and not give up."
According to Aguilar, he and Bodavula need to "go for more shots" when they compete at state, where the field also includes defending champions Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose of New Albany, who lost to Heiden and Pradhan 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the district final.
"We've got to come to the net and be a little more aggressive," Bodavula said.
Track teams place third at district
The boys and girls track and field teams are competing in the Division I regional, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North. The top four finishers in each event advance to the state meet May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
In the district 2 meet that concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby, the girls scored 96 points to finish third of 14 teams behind Gahanna (186) and Dublin Coffman (99) and the boys were third (67) of 16 teams behind co-champions Pickerington North and Canal Winchester (84).
Gracie Sprankle led the girls, winning the 3,200 meters (11 minutes, 34.75 seconds).
"Overall, I was proud of this team," coach James Dingus said. "We fought through some adversity this season. We (are) well represented at regionals and I'm excited to see what this group can do."
Finishing second for the girls were the 3,200 relay of Sprankle, Audrey Piero, Linnea Kunesh and Madeline Ailes (9:50.0), Taylor Weiss in the high jump (5 feet, 1 inch) and Noelle Meeker in the pole vault (11-4).
Finishing third were Sarah Gilbert in the 3,200 (12:15.46), Piero in the 1,600 (5:22.73), Nicole Tonetti in the long jump (17-6 1/2) and Mollie Kunar in the shot put (37-7 1/4). Also advancing were Kunesh in the 1,600 (fourth, 5:23.77) and the 400 relay of Tonetti, Sienna Sakich, Sydney Reed and Jessica Barna (fourth, 49.99).
Finishing fifth to come up one place short of advancing were Ailes in the 800 (2:30.34), Charlotte Hummell in the 300 hurdles (48.55), the 800 relay of Carrie Lawal, Barna, Reed and Tonetti (1:45.98) and the 1,600 relay of Sydney Petz, Divya Patel, Hummell and Tonetti (4:13.41).
Luke Bendick led the boys by winning the pole vault (15-6). Finishing second were Nick Ruppe in the pole vault (14-4) and Gavin Smith in the long jump (22-4). Also advancing were Drew Folwarczny in the 800 (fourth, 1:58.81), the 400 relay of Matthew Onate, Justin Chrisman, Gavin Smith and Ubby Suligavi (third, 43.15) and the 3,200 relay of Joseph Johnson, Folwarczny, Adam Clark and Drew Boggs (fourth, 8:08.71).
Placing fifth were Onate in the 200 (22.77), Tasker Brown in the 400 (50.78), the 800 relay of Camden Wegner, Chrisman, Onate and Suligavi (1:30.87) and the 1,600 relay of Wegner, Holden DeVassie, Brown and Onate (3:26.41).
Baseball team wins district semifinal
The fourth-seeded baseball team was 23-5 after beating 21st-seeded Canal Winchester 6-1 in a Division I district semifinal May 20.
The Patriots played seventh-seeded Upper Arlington in a district final May 22.
The district champion will play New Albany or Gahanna in a regional semifinal May 30 at Coffman.
The Patriots opened the postseason by beating 31st-seeded Marion Harding 11-1 on May 15 and then beat Dublin Jerome 13-2 on May 17 in a regular-season game.
Against Harding, Brennan Rowe went 1-for-2 with three RBI, A.J. Rausch was 3-for-3 with two runs scored, Jack Metzger went 3-for-3 with three RBI and Brian Yamokoski also was 3-for-3. Metzger gave up one unearned run in four innings to pick up the win.
Girls lacrosse team falls in semifinal
The girls lacrosse team was unable to earn a season sweep of Olentangy, as it lost 14-13 to the second-seeded and host Braves on May 20 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal.
The third-seeded Patriots, who beat the Braves 13-11 on April 30, finished 13-6.
On May 17, the Patriots beat fourth-seeded Perrysburg 16-8 in a regional quarterfinal as Emma Shear had four goals and Lauren Buddie and Molly Bursinger each scored three.
Bursinger had five goals in the loss to Olentangy.
Volleyball team makes regional semi
The eighth-seeded boys volleyball team beat fifth-seeded Olentangy 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19 on May 18 at Darby to open the Division I East Region tournament.
The Patriots improved to 13-7 and advanced to face sixth-seeded Coffman in a regional semifinal May 21 at Darby. The winner of that contest plays top-seeded Darby or 11th-seeded Pickerington Central in a regional final Friday, May 24, at Westerville Central.
The regional champion plays in a state semifinal June 1 at Capital.
Liberty split with Olentangy during the regular season before pulling the minor tournament upset.
"We've just been getting better all season and the first time we played them we weren't where we needed to be as a team," senior Llwyatt Hofer said. "We've lost to a lot of top-ranked teams and people just look at our record and say they've lost games, but we've proven that we can play with anyone."
Boys lacrosse team falls to Braves
The third-seeded boys lacrosse team lost to sixth-seeded Olentangy 6-5 on May 17 in a Division I, Region 1 quarterfinal.
The Patriots beat 14th-seeded Wadsworth 13-1 on May 14 before playing the Braves in a rematch of a contest Liberty won 10-7 on May 1.
The Patriots finished 13-6 overall and had a seven-member senior class led by long-stick midfielder Andrew Guagenti, an Ohio State recruit who missed part of the season with a concussion, as well as James Howenstine (defender), Nick Paolo (defensive midfielder), Peter Spallino (midfielder) and Carson Tate (defender).
The Patriots, who went 7-0 to win the OCC-Buckeye title, should return several impact sophomores and juniors.
Leading the junior class were Matthew Barrett (defender), Tyson Chapman (attacker/midfielder), Jacob Kessler (attacker/midfielder), Sam McCormack (attacker/midfielder) and Korey Raymond (long-stick midfielder).
Others eligible to return include sophomores Adam Blind (goalie), Alex Theuer-kauf (attacker) and Joey Wiseman (attack/midfielder).