The Centennial boys golf team returns just two members from last year's squad in senior Turner Wolfenberger and sophomore Joel Ford, and second-year coach David Leatherwood expects big things from the pair.
Both earned honorable mention all-City League honors last season. Wolfenberger averaged 59.3 and Ford averaged 65 in league matches as the Stars finished third (32 points) behind Whetstone (42) and Walnut Ridge (34).
"Those two will definitely be our leaders and I'm expecting them to make all-City again," said Leatherwood, whose team opens Aug. 27 with league matches against Independence and South at Airport. "Turner was our most improved golfer last year and Joel is already showing much greater confidence in hitting the ball."
Chris Sfikas, a 2019 graduate and the team's No. 1 player last season, had an impact on Wolfenberger, according to Leatherwood.
"Turner is a member of the marching band and joined the golf team last year after talking to Chris, who was our team MVP and a second-team all-City selection," Leatherwood said. "(Turner's) dad loves the game of golf and has been golfing with Turner this summer at Denison Golf Club and other central Ohio golf courses.
"Joel has been getting more golf experience from watching golf while caddying at the Scioto Country Club this summer. His love for the game continues to grow and he has started taking private lessons to improve his game."
Also on the roster are senior Phil Thomas and junior Dominic Richards, plus two girls in junior Consuela Williams and sophomore Lauren Rhynehardt.
"These new golfers are excited to grow and expand upon the foundational skills that they learned with the First Tee organization last spring," Leatherwood said. "I am looking forward to coaching them and watching them improve throughout the season."
First Tee was founded in 1997 to bring junior golf programs to communities that did not have them and to grow interest in the sport.
"Last year, my co-coach Anestis Kalagidis, who is a physical education teacher, signed Centennial up for the (First Tee) program and we had some youngsters introduced to the sport and we're hoping to continue to get more youth involved," Leatherwood said. "Consuela was one of them and now she has a private swing coach helping her come along because she's so interested in golf."
While the Stars will compete as a boys team in the regular season, they could play as individuals in their separate boys and girls Division I sectionals.
Last season, none of the three girls on the team competed in the postseason. Those players are not on the roster this season.
In the boys sectional at Turnberry, Wolfenberger shot a 120 to place 67th and Sfikas had a 122 to finish 69th.
Girls tennis team has more experience
The girls tennis team returns six of its top seven players from last year, and 22nd-year coach Barbara Stevenson hopes that leads to a stronger season.
"The girls who are coming back showed a lot of improvement last year and they're going to be pretty good," said Stevenson, whose team opens Aug. 26 against Northland in a City-North Division match. "They know the basics and they're more comfortable, consistent and knowledgeable."
The returnees are juniors Champa Bista, Nicole Kaiser and Michaela Smith and sophomores Erica Natividad, Brianna Richardson and Foune Traore.
"We are still a young team with no seniors and I haven't seen many of the freshmen who have said they were joining us," Stevenson said. "It's always like this until around the time school starts because of vacations and lack of transportation. But there are 17 girls who have signed up to participate. It's still way too early to determine whether any of the freshmen will be playing at a high level."
Among other newcomers are junior Abigail Swindler and sophomores Talia Blackwell and Jordan Smith.
Michaela Smith played second singles last season when the Stars finished 1-6 overall and 1-2 in the City-North. They lost to Northland 3-2 in last year's opener.
"We were without a few of our top players when we opened against Northland last year," Stevenson said. "Hopefully, we'll be a bit more prepared for the season to begin this year.
"But as always, the biggest thing for me is introducing the sport and strategies and making it fun. I want them to learn and enjoy the game so can play their entire lives."
Below are the coming schedules for the Centennial boys soccer and girls soccer teams:
Aug. 20 -- At Central Crossing
Aug. 20 -- At Licking Valley