Reece Yakubov is excelling on the tennis court both physically and mentally.
The St. Charles Preparatory School sophomore qualified for the Division I state tournament in singles and then captured the district championship, defeating Thomas Worthington's Kai Britz 6-0, 6-1 on May 18 at Reynoldsburg.
The top finishers four in singles and doubles advanced to state Friday, May 24, and Saturday, May 25, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
"I have been playing pretty well and trying to stay solid," said Yakubov, who enters state with a 16-2 record. "I try to hit the right shots at the right time, play smart and make other people beat me instead of giving away points."
Yakubov won his district semifinal match over New Albany's Ryan Mudre 6-4, 6-1. St. Charles assistant coach Mike O'Callaghan said that match showed Yakubov's mental toughness.
"Mentally, Reece's game is top-notch," O'Callaghan said. "He doesn't do anything to hurt himself, and his emotions are stable during the match whether he wins or loses a point.
"He's also patient. If he has to hit 15 shots to win a point, he'll do that. If all of the skills are equal, I'll take his mental approach to the game and how hard he can hit the ball and move it where it needs to be moved."
Yakubov defeated Upper Arlington's Nick Gruss 6-0, 6-1 in the first round at district and Dublin Jerome's Daniel Utkin 6-1, 6-1 in a state-qualifying match May 16 at Reynoldsburg.
Last spring, Yakubov teamed with 2018 graduate Jack Dabek to finish as state runners-up in doubles.
"That experience should help me a lot," Yakubov said. "The pressure, the atmosphere of the ATP (facility), which is the (state) site, is different than any other place we play. Being down there once is definitely going to help.
"Almost getting a championship there was a great experience. I need to remember what I did well and what I didn't do well, and make sure I know my game plan this week and get ready for it."
Volleyball squad reaches regional semi
The volleyball team continued its quest to defend its Division II state championship in an East Region semifinal May 21 against third-seeded Briggs.
The top-seeded Cardinals entered the match 20-4.
The winner advanced to a regional final Friday, May 24, at Westerville Central against fourth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or second-seeded Watterson. St. Charles swept Watterson 25-19 25-12, 25-23 on April 4 and 25-22, 19-25, 25-17, 25-21 on April 16 in CCL play.
The East Region champion plays in a state semifinal June 1 at Capital.
St. Charles had a first-round bye before defeating seventh-seeded Eastmoor Academy 25-12, 25-12, 25-15 in a regional quarterfinal May 18 at home.
Through 23 matches, setter Jakes Franz had 945 assists, 155 digs, 89 kills, 45 aces and 42 blocks, and outside hitter Nathan Lancia had 366 kills, 41 aces, 181 digs and 58 blocks. Outside hitter Alex McLane had 335 kills, 28 aces, 189 digs and 49 blocks, and middle hitter Jack Schumacher had 122 kills and 111 blocks.
Lacrosse team reaches regional semi
The sixth-seeded lacrosse team played in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal May 21 against top-seeded UA.
The winner advanced to a regional final Friday, May 24, against second-seeded Kilbourne or fourth-seeded Centerville at a neutral site. The Cardinals lost to Kilbourne 12-6 on May 2.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Tuesday, May 28, at a neutral site. Possible opponents include third-ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier, ninth-ranked Mason or 10th-ranked Springboro.
The Cardinals improved to 10-8 by winning at third-seeded New Albany 5-4 on May 17 in the second round. Jack Hamrick scored twice and Zach Lowis had 12 saves.
Evan Bouscher and Karson Doon both scored three times and Lowis had 15 saves as St. Charles opened the postseason with an 11-9 win at fifth-seeded Thomas on May 14.
Track team advances contingent to regional
The track and field team advanced four athletes and two relays to the Division I regional meet, which began May 22 and concludes Friday, May 24, at Pickerington North.
The top four finishers in each event advance to state May 31 and June 1 at Ohio State.
Kaleb Simpson was second in the 200 meters (21.82 seconds) and third in the 100 (10.95) to lead the Cardinals in the district 1 meet, which concluded May 18 at Hilliard Darby. The top four in each district event advanced to regional.
Justin Efebera was third in the 110 hurdles (14.97), Owen Karas was third in the 3,200 (10:03.11) and Roland Rowe was fourth in the 100 (11.18).
The 400 relay of Isaiah Yarngo, Simpson, Efebera and Rowe won in 42.21, and the 3,200 relay of Liam O'Reilly, Ethan Encarnacion, Will Blubaugh and Iain Karas was fourth in 8:17.84.
The Cardinals finished fifth (54.5 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (137) as 17 teams scored.
Baseball team falls in second round
The baseball team's season ended May 15 when it lost at 20th-seeded Groveport 3-2 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Senior Aidan Rice (P/2B) and senior Mason Olding (1B) both had RBI singles for the 22nd-seeded Cardinals, who finished 12-16 overall and 2-6 in the CCL.
Rice (second-team all-league) batted .348 with 11 RBI and 17 runs and was the team's top pitcher, going 3-4 with a 2.07 ERA, 44 strikeouts and nine walks in 54 innings.
Senior infielder Charlie Duross (first-team all-league) led the Cardinals in batting average (.403), RBI (22) and doubles (9) and also scored 18 runs. Senior outfielder Tom Fanning batted .338 with 15 RBI and 15 runs, and Olding (second-team all-league) batted .304 with 17 RBI and 18 runs. Senior outfielder Taylor Bryant led St. Charles with 15 stolen bases while batting .235 with one home run, eight RBI and 17 runs.
Sophomores Carter Bryant (OF; 321, 1 homer, 8 RBI, 5 runs), Trey Willis (OF; 337, 2 homers, 17 RBI, 24 runs) and Erik Witherspoon (INF; .317, 11 RBI, 16 runs) are the top position players expected to return. Willis was second-team all-league.
The top pitchers expected back are junior Connor Carretta (3-2, 3.39 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 12 walks, 20 2/3 innings) and sophomore Ethan Seewald (3-4, 4.06 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 21 walks, 39 2/3 innings).