The Thomas Worthington girls tennis team may not have a standout to anchor its lineup, but fourth-year coach Andrew Sinclair does not think this season will be a complete rebuild.
"We lost five letterwinners to graduation, including Sarina Xie, who was a threat to advance to state the past few years," Sinclair said. "But I think we have enough depth that we won't be completely rebuilding. We will have trouble replacing Sarina at No. 1 (singles) and we could use quite a few girls in the spot because we have a lot of even talent. In fact, we may be juggling our entire lineup quite a bit, especially early in the season."
Last season, the Cardinals finished 9-7 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Olentangy Berlin for third behind Dublin Jerome (7-0) and Dublin Scioto (6-1).
Thomas, which opened Aug. 12 against Bexley and will play host to Hilliard Bradley in its league opener Thursday, Aug. 15, returns four players who competed in a Division I sectional last year at Bradley in seniors Sydney Cooke, Riley Dodson and Winnie McKahan and junior Kate Haydel-Cooke.
"Riley has the inside track to play at the top of our singles lineup and Sydney has shown a tremendous amount of improvement after playing at first doubles last year," Sinclair said. "Winnie has also improved greatly and Kate is getting better on offense. She's fast on her feet and a great retriever who can win by attrition."
McKahan is expected to begin the season at first doubles with junior Francesca Decker.
A handful of others could be rotating at second doubles. They include sophomores Madeline Cherri and Yasha Rana and freshmen Eve Brown, Gabby Decker, Kayla Lu, Maria McCallister, Sarah Ogden, Judy Ray and Meggie Ray.
"We're excited to get a lot of these girls some matches and see how they respond," Sinclair said. "I think we'll see a lot of improvement with this group."
Boys golfers hoping to build on last year
The boys golf team has returned three athletes who competed in a Division I sectional last season at Turnberry but lost a three-time district qualifier to graduation in Aaron Zeller.
Juniors Colin Corbett and Noah Jackman and sophomore Paari Kaviyarasu are back for the Cardinals, who shot 320 at sectional to place fifth, finishing nine strokes behind the fourth and final district qualifier in Pickerington North (311).
"We are still a relatively young team with not a whole lot of varsity experience under our belts," 14th-year coach Jay Addy said. "Last year, we peaked in our last match of the year at sectional, where we shot a 320. We would like to continue to build off that momentum and improve this year.
"We have a nice 1-2 punch with Noah and Paari, but we need to build some depth in the rest of the lineup. I look for this team to improve greatly during the season."
Completing the roster are junior Owen Appel and sophomore Marshall Wellejus.
The Cardinals shot a 353 in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 6 at Apple Valley to place sixth behind Jerome (301), Berlin (308), Delaware (321), Bradley (321) and Hilliard Darby (335) and ahead of Kilbourne (360) and Scioto (375).
Kaviyarasu carded a 79, followed by Jackman (81), Corbett (91), Wellejus (102) and Appel (110).
"Noah and Paari both have the ability to put up some really strong numbers," Addy said. "Both spent a great deal of time working on their game during the offseason and it shows."
In the second round of the league tournament Aug. 12 at Turnberry, the Cardinals finished seventh (358) behind Jerome (297), Bradley (300), Berlin (306), Delaware (316), Darby (321) and Kilbourne (339) and ahead of Scioto (366). Kaviyarasu had a 76 to lead Thomas and was followed by Jackman (87), Corbett (91), Wellejus (104) and Appel (110).
The third round is Aug. 28 at Darby Creek and the final round is Sept. 11 at Denison Golf Club at Granville.
Girls golfers looking 'to have fun, learn'
With only one experienced golfer on its roster, the girls golf team will be playing a schedule consisting mostly of junior varsity matches.
"We want the girls to have fun, learn and improve, and that's why we're not competing on the varsity level in the OCC-Cardinal tournament," second-year coach Rodney Hopkins said. "So we won't be eligible for the (Division I postseason), either.
"Having fun and getting better are our only goals. We have five girls, all sophomores, and it's a great group with no drama."
Sophomore Kerry Burnham is the only returnee from last year's team, which also did not compete in the postseason.
Completing the squad are sophomores Gloria Chan, Devyn Miller, Anna Poklar and Michaela Sershan.
"Kerry introduced Gloria to the sport," Hopkins said. "Anna has played volleyball up until this year. Devyn's mom works in the building and they were looking for an extra-curricular activity for her and then she spoke with Michaela and got her to come out, too.
"Gloria, Devyn and Michaela are all interested in taking lessons. It's pretty nice that they're all sophomores because they can work together for three years and we should be able to see them make improvements along the way."
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys golf, girls golf, cross country, field hockey, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Aug. 17 -- OHSAA Early Season Invitational at National Trail Raceway
*Aug. 21 -- At Dublin Coffman
Aug. 17 -- Kent Miller Invitational at Hiawatha
Aug. 20 -- Dublin Scioto at Darby Creek
Aug. 19 -- OCC-Cardinal (JV) at Wilson Road
Aug. 20 -- Hilliard Darby at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 17 -- Home vs. Watterson
*Aug. 15 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 17 -- Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
*Aug. 20 -- At Dublin Jerome
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Marysville
*Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 21 -- At Mount Vernon
Aug. 16 -- Girls: At Upper Arlington Invitational