The Olentangy girls tennis team had a week between its final regular-season match and the start of a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 3, and Saturday, Oct. 5, at Reynoldsburg, and Braves first-singles player Nour Khayat was fine with that.
As far as Khayat is concerned, the Braves owe some of their success to how they've practiced.
"All of us have improved a bunch," Khayat said. "Our practices are a lot better. We're hitting a lot more shots than we did last year. We've had a lot of challenge matches and we're working on our slicing, which a lot of girls don't work on."
Khayat, a sophomore, is seeded third at sectional and seeking her second consecutive district appearance. She won the sectional championship last year but lost her only match at district.
Olentangy went 9-7 during the regular season and finished 4-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, second behind Orange (5-0).
Priyanka Agochiya and Archita Sriram also will play singles.
Doubles teams will consist of Khushi Agarwal and Sonia Chirravuri and Mimi Kekalainen and Sydney Nickel.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to district Oct. 10 and 12 at Reynoldsburg.
"It took us a while to figure out who would be able to step up in doubles. Singles have been in stone for a while, last season and this season," coach Jeff Luxenburger said. "Figuring out who will succeed where is always a process, but it's been even more of a process this year because we have so much talent."
Khayat said she has not made any large-scale changes in her game since last year.
"I've been working on being consistent. That's always been my goal," she said. "I tried to work on my mental game (since last year), staying focused through matches, and just playing smarter."
Olentangy finished OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 23 with a 4-1 home win over Westerville North but fell short of sharing the league championship when Orange defeated Liberty 3-2 two days later.
The Braves lost their last three matches last week, 4-1 to visiting Dublin Coffman on Sept. 24, 3-2 at New Albany the next day and 4-1 at Pickerington Central on Sept. 26.
"Our schedule was not as difficult early in the season. I didn't even schedule it this way on purpose, but that's how it's worked out," Luxenburger said. "The girls are playing their best tennis now, which is what we want to see. I assume these other teams are, too. It's good to see that level of competition at this point in the season."
Girls soccer team faces huge game
First place in the OCC-Buckeye will be on the line Thursday, Oct. 3, when the girls soccer team plays host to Orange.
Both teams are 3-0 in the league.
The Braves are seeking their second consecutive victory in the rivalry. Their 2-1 win over the Pioneers last year clinched the outright OCC-Buckeye title.
Olentangy was 10-2-1 overall before playing Hilliard Darby on Oct. 1. The Braves won two home games last week by 3-2 scores, against Westerville Central on Sept. 24 and Pickerington North on Sept. 28.
Field hockey team winding down season
The field hockey team was 7-5-1 overall, two wins better than last year, and 3-3-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West before playing Dublin Jerome on Oct. 2.
Olentangy broke a two-game losing streak Sept. 27 with a 3-0 home win over Berlin.
Maddie Richeson, Sage Parker and Alex Walters each scored against the Bears, whom the Braves have outscored 5-0 in the first two meetings between the programs.
Earlier last week, Olentangy lost to the visiting Hilliard Lynx 2-1 on Sept. 23 and fell 5-0 at Thomas Worthington two nights later.
The Braves lost at Orange 3-0 on Sept. 30.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 5 -- Girls: Johnstown Harrier Showdown at Sportsman's Club
Oct. 7 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Oct. 9 -- At Dublin Scioto
Oct. 2 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Denison Golf Club. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Oct. 5 -- Wedgewood Showcase at Wedgewood
Oct. 1 -- Competed in Division I sectional at Royal American. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
*Oct. 3 -- At Orange
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Orange
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Orange. The Braves lost to the Pioneers 25-7, 25-13, 25-17 on Sept. 10.
Oct. 5 -- At Watkins Memorial