Not only are familiar names scattered throughout the DeSales girls tennis team's lineup, but some past success gives coach Tom Snyder reason to think the Stallions have a chance to improve on last year's 12-4 record.
With the team's two returnees in senior Megan Husslein and sophomore Molly Ballard set to play first and second singles, respectively, Snyder cautions that the graduations of 11 players mean there are few givens as the season gets underway.
"We're a completely different team than we were last year," said Snyder, whose fourth season began Aug. 9 with a 5-0 win at Central Crossing. "Right now, we're in an open competition for every spot, with the exception of Megan and Molly. ... We graduated a lot of good players and some really good athletes. We won't have as many multi-sport athletes this season, but we have a bunch of newcomers to varsity who have worked hard in the offseason to improve their games. There's some uncertainty with that group, but I'm excited to see them compete at a higher level."
While Husslein went a team-best 21-5 at first singles last season, Ballard was 14-5 at first doubles and played just one singles match -- a dominant 6-0, 6-1 win over Worthington Christian's Emma Morris.
DeSales' 12 wins last year were its most since 2009.
"(Husslein) really took a big step forward last season," Snyder said. "She has really consistent groundstrokes (and) great hands and is a fierce competitor."
Three players -- juniors Evelyn Brainard and Lilly Metzger and sophomore Kat Jolley -- began the season designated as both singles and doubles players. Seniors Catharina Le and Abigail Waldren were at first doubles after going 12-1 on that court for the 18-0 junior varsity last season.
Jolley was 14-0 last season in her first year in the sport.
"Lilly, Kat and Evelyn will see some time (at third singles), but I'm hoping one of them will grab that position and run with it," Snyder said.
Rounding out the roster are junior Amelia Zaremba and freshman Maddie Hill, both of whom will play doubles.
DeSales begins CCL play Sept. 3 against Hartley at Otterbein. The Stallions went 3-1 in the league last year to finish second behind Watterson (4-0).
Four of DeSales' seven designated home matches, including its home opener Aug. 13 against Jonathan Alder, are scheduled to be played at the Park of Roses because of construction at the school.
"Finishing second (in the CCL) last year was a big step forward for our program," Snyder said. "(The preseason) was one of the very few times this summer where we've had all of the varsity players together due to family travel, work schedules and club sports. We're really working hard to figure things out."
Seniors guiding boys golf team
Division II district qualifier Kyle Zevchik is among five seniors in the boys golf team's lineup, which also includes a freshman as the Stallions try to move up the CCL standings.
Seniors Andrew Connor, Michael Cummins and Ryan Ratchford also return from last year. Senior Colin Moriarty joins the team after previously playing football, and freshman Luke Gabrielli edged sophomore Scotty Armstrong for the sixth spot in the lineup.
Cummins emerged from tryouts as the Stallions' top golfer and shot a team-best 77 in the season-opening Pickerington Central Invitational on Aug. 5 at Turnberry. DeSales shot 343 as a team, 25 shots better than last year in the same event, and finished 10th of 19 teams as Olentangy Berlin won with a 305.
"We're still not where we want to be," second-year coach Tony Pinson said. "Our team goal is to be 340 and under, but this was a solid start. Our roster is heavily upperclassmen. They're good guys and they all have good games. I'm really hoping we can continue to progress."
The Stallions went 2-6 in the CCL last year, finishing fourth behind champion St. Charles (8-0).
DeSales begins league play with the CCL preseason tournament Thursday, Aug. 15, at Apple Valley.
The Stallions have moved back up to Division I after competing in Division II the past two years. They fell two spots short of qualifying to district as a team last season.
"My goal in Division II this year (would have been) to make state. In Division I, that is a huge challenge, especially around here," Pinson said. "We just want to play solid and not put too much pressure on the boys. We want to bring in good scores. We're not worried about whether we're winning invitationals. Our goal is to shoot sub-340 every time out."
Girls golfers try to sustain success
Four of the girls golf team's top five competitors have returned as the Stallions try to repeat as champions in both the CCL and Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League and follow up on their first Division I district appearance since 2010.
Senior Paige Verfurth leads a lineup that also includes juniors Faith Corn, Melina McSweeny and Amanda Pancake and sophomores Maura Gibson and Lizzy Gutman.
Gibson is the only first-year player for the Stallions, who opened Aug. 5 by finishing 11th (379) of 15 teams in the Lady Lion Invitational at Jefferson as defending Division I state champion New Albany won (297).
Verfurth shot an 86, followed by Pancake (95), Corn (96) and Gutman (102). McSweeny shot a 117, eight shots better than Gibson. "That was the order (in which) we came out of tryouts, so I think they're ranked correctly right now," fifth-year coach Charlie Mitchell said. "We were sloppy (Aug. 5), but I wasn't upset. One thing I've tried to emphasize is not every shot has to be perfect. You hit maybe half-a-dozen perfect shots during a round, and you just have to know where you want to go the rest of the time. They're starting to realize that. It's where the misses go that determine how the round will go."
According to Mitchell, sophomores Erin Cooper and Sarah Stevens will challenge for the sixth spot on varsity. Verfurth is the team's only senior.
DeSales played the season's only MOGGL tournament Aug. 12 at Champions and participated in the CCL preseason tournament Aug. 14 at NorthStar. The postseason event will take place Oct. 5 on the same course.
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 15 -- CCL preseason tournament at Apple Valley
Aug. 17 -- Kent Miller Colonial Fall Classic at Hiawatha
Aug. 21 -- Big Walnut at Royal American
Aug. 15 -- Westerville North at Royal American
Aug. 19 -- Licking Heights and Pickerington North at Turnberry
Aug. 20 -- Delaware at Oakhaven
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Landmark Trinity Christian
Aug. 19 -- At Westerville North
Aug. 15 -- At Granville
Aug. 17 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Invitational
Aug. 19 -- At Thomas Worthington
Aug. 20 -- At Hilliard Darby
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Sparta Highland