As the Westerville South girls tennis program continues to grow stronger, coach Ryan French gains more optimism.

There are 16 players in the program, including several underclassmen on varsity.

The Wildcats are coming off a 6-8 season that followed a 1-13 finish in 2017.

"It's not the most players I've had, but it's a good number," said French, who is in his eighth season. "I want to always have at least 14 because that's a j.v. and a varsity."

Sophomores Baydan Matan and Mary Pedrozo competed for the first-singles position during the preseason, according to French.

Senior returnee Dani Koehler should see action in doubles.

"I really like this team," she said. "I think we're going to have a good year. A lot of the underclassmen are really good this year. We'll have good seasons in the future, too. We're pretty good.

"I want to win more matches. Throughout the years I've played, I've gotten better and better, so I want to keep working on that."

Senior Ozichi Fah and sophomore Ama Asare also return, while senior Elaina Murray is a transfer from DeSales who should contribute.

"There are a lot of new kids who are learning, but it's a lot of fun," French said.

The Wildcats open Thursday, Aug. 15, at Reynoldsburg and begin OCC-Buckeye Division play Aug. 22 against Olentangy. They went 1-4 in the league last season to finish fifth behind champion Olentangy Orange (5-0).

"If we can be around .500, that's usually the goal," French said. "We'll struggle against the Olentangy schools. All the Westerville schools we should be competitive with and all the other teams on the schedule we should be competitive with."

Eckert returns to lead girls golf team

Second-year coach Matt Yingling is counting on junior McKhala Eckert to set the tone for the girls golf team.

"She was my No. 1 last year. She's probably my most consistent player," Yingling said. "You pretty much know what she's going to go out and do."

Also back are senior Amelia Kidder and juniors Katherine Blais, Nia Cosby and Layla Goebeler.

Junior Jaidan Wynn has joined the team, which also includes freshmen Kathryn Cohen, Audrey Faulkner, Alexzandria Stewart and Olivia Wheeler.

"I had a good time last year," Yingling said. "I have great ladies who are playing (and) great families, and that always makes it better."

South opened the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament Aug. 8 at New Albany Links, finishing fourth (451) behind first-place Olentangy Liberty (353).

With no j.v. schedule, Yingling said all 10 girls should see time on varsity. There were five girls in the program last season.

"We doubled the team and most likely we'll be looking at a j.v. team in the following years," Yingling said.

Boys golf team resumes varsity play

After playing a j.v. schedule last season, the boys golf team has resumed varsity play under second-year coach Dave Haney.

"We have fairly young golfers," he said. "We have kids that have not been playing their whole life. We made a goal in the offseason that we were going to get better. We chose some scores that we were going to shoot for individually and we have yet to meet those goals, so we just have to keep working to meet those goals."

South opened the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament Aug. 6 at Turnberry by finishing sixth (425) behind first-place Orange (301). Junior Logan Hunn led the Wildcats with a 94, followed by freshman Michael Murray (95) and juniors Andrew Collinsworth (115) and Ethyn Allen (121).

Murray played in the Central Ohio Golf Academy tournament series during the summer, according to Haney.

"We have a long way to go," Haney said. "We're still trying to make improvements. We just have to keep working hard and improve every facet of the game."

The Wildcats finished sixth (394) in the second round of league play Aug. 12 at Apple Valley behind first-place Liberty (298). Murray shot an 88 to lead South.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the South boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 19 -- Canal Winchester at Royal American

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 16 -- Watkins Memorial Invitational at Cumberland Trail

BOYS SOCCER

*Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Westerville North

Aug. 20 -- At Hilliard Darby

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 14 -- At Wellington

Aug. 16 -- Home vs. North

Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Darby

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 15 -- At Reynoldsburg

Aug. 16 -- Home vs. Whetstone

Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 17 -- Spike-off Tournament at Marysville

April 19 -- At Franklin Heights

*League contest