Last season was just the beginning for the Olentangy Orange girls tennis team.
The Pioneers return five of the seven players who helped them finish fourth in the Division I OTCA state team tournament. They lost to Rocky River Magnificat 3-2 in a semifinal and Perrysburg 3-2 in the third-place match.
Two of the returnees, seniors Kortney Reed and Erin Storrer, also teamed to go 1-1 in doubles in the Division I state individual tournament. The pair will play singles during the regular season.
"We learned a lot about ourselves and what we wanted as a team," Storrer said. "Our goal is to make it back there again."
Reed said last season should help the Pioneers realize their potential.
"It's not much different being a senior than it was last year because we only had one senior then," Reed said. "We want to have fun and make the most of our senior season."
Fourth-year coach Susan Storrer said her team will have its work cut out for it, but has the talent necessary to make another run.
"I think the girls' biggest strength is camaraderie," said coach Storrer, whose team finished 14-4 overall last season and won the OCC-Buckeye Division at 5-0. "They like each other and hit together a lot. They are willing to fight for each other.
"Most of them are solid in singles or doubles and can make a big dent in either spot. Trying to find the strongest combination will be the biggest challenge. That is a huge asset for us."
Senior Hannah Logan, junior Carolyn Sproule and sophomore Tyler Reed also return from last fall's lineup. The Pioneers lost Livie Mauger to graduation and sophomore Niki Bhimireddy has opted to play in USTA events.
Kortney Reed, Sproule and Erin Storrer will play singles but had yet to be slotted into their courts entering the week. Logan and Tyler Reed and senior Teresa Hawk and sophomore Karol Korotkin will make up the doubles teams.
Madison Bastian, McKenna Dunn, Ava Lytle and Gabi Valiulis round out the eight-player senior class.
"We're really excited and a little emotional about the season," coach Storrer said. "We have eight seniors and I have known most of them since they were 3 and have been coaching most of them for 10 years or more.
"I dread all of the 'lasts' that we will have this season: the last home match, the last away match, the last banquet, all of those things. The girls have good camaraderie and it should be a good season."
Orange opened Aug. 14 against Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. League play begins Aug. 22 against Liberty.
Boys golf team has high expectations
The boys golf team fell just short of qualifying for the Division I state tournament last fall, and second-year coach Jerrod Ross expects the Pioneers to take that step this season.
Orange finished third (313) in the district tournament as Dublin Jerome (293) and St. Charles (309) advanced to state. The Pioneers return four players from their district lineup in juniors Corbin Bentley, Nathan Brown, Jonathan Green and Jake Smith.
"I'm excited that the season has started," Ross said. "We were third at district and had a couple bad holes, but that's golf. The boys have been champing at the bit to get that chance again.
"We have several goals before thinking about state. First we want to have a sub-300 (tournament) round. Then we want to win a tournament and win an OCC championship."
The Pioneers got their round below 300 with a 294 to finish second to St. Charles (279) in the Mount Vernon Invitational on Aug. 9 at Chapel Hill.
They took a step toward earning a league title by finishing first in the opening round of the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament Aug. 6 at Turnberry. Orange shot 301 to finish ahead of Liberty (304), Westerville Central (327), Olentangy (327), Westerville North (389) and Westerville South (425).
Green tied Liberty's Grant Smeltzer for medalist honors with a 72. Sophomore Mitch Purdue (75), Bentley (76), sophomore Luke Johnson (78) and Brown (82) also competed.
"We're ready to go and we know we have the capability to get where we want," Ross said. "They know they can play golf, and they're young. We're 16 (years old) and below, so we're very, very excited."
In the second round of league play Aug. 12 at Apple Valley, Orange finished second (305) behind Liberty (298) as Bentley (74) led the way.
Girls golf team looking to rebuild
The girls golf team has started a new era with a new coach.
After winning back-to-back Division I state titles in 2016 and 2017, the Pioneers were runners-up last fall. They shot a two-day total of 618 to finish behind New Albany, which shot a record 592 to break the former top mark of 602 set by Orange the previous season.
The Pioneers lost Ashley Au, Riley Dean, Sydney Krupp and Natalia Sompolvorachai to graduation. Also, Orange has a new coach in Ingrid Swisher, who replaced Cari DeAngelis after six seasons.
Junior Natalie Au is the only returnee from last season's state lineup, and junior Lauren Muffley also was on the roster.
Swisher was Orange's first girls cross country coach, a position she held for six seasons.
"This reminds me of starting as girls cross country coach and we had only eight girls and no seniors," Swisher said. "When I left we had more than 60 and it feels like the same thing here.
"The two returning girls want to have a good season, and they can help me with the younger girls. They can help teach them and help rebuild the program."
Juniors Mimi Russell and Emma Wood and sophomore Jessica Woods round out the five-player roster.
The Pioneers have won league titles the past three seasons, including going 20-0 in the OCC-Buckeye last fall, but they did not have a team score in the first round of league play Aug. 8 at New Albany Links. Natalie Au shot an 80 to finish second behind Grace Welty (78) of Central, and Russell shot a 128.
The second round was Aug. 14 at Mentel Memorial.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 17 -- At Cincinnati Ursuline Academy
*Aug. 19 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
Aug. 20 -- Marysville at Darby Creek
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Berlin
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Berlin
Aug. 20 -- At Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 15 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 20 -- At Franklin Heights
Aug. 20 -- At Big Walnut