Kelli Rings has coached several pairs of siblings in 21 years as Pickerington Central girls tennis coach and 17 seasons with the boys program, but the Stang family set a program record with three boys and two girls who played for the Tigers.

The youngest, Cooper, went against what Rings may have expected from someone in his position.

"He used to be a shy, quiet person when he came in, which I thought was a bit unusual because he was the last of five kids and in my experience, usually the fifth in the line is louder and crazier," Rings said. "He's probably the most reserved of all of them. He's always been someone who just does what he's told and works hard.

"Honestly, I don't think he reminds me of any of (his older brothers or sisters). They all have their own personalities. Each of them brought different highlights and qualities to the team. Cooper has his own thing going."

Stang knew what his "thing" would be this season with the boys team, at least before it was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. After playing second singles as a junior and teaming with Brady Phelps to play doubles in the postseason, Stang successfully lobbied Rings to put him on a doubles court -- his preferred spot -- with classmate Stevan Klein.

"All last year, I begged her to let me play doubles, but the team needed me to play singles, so I did," said Stang, a four-year varsity player. "I like the strategy of doubles more, the movement with your partner and the ability to work together. In junior high, I liked singles more, but freshman and sophomore year, I played doubles with Stevan and I really enjoyed that."

Rings was happy to oblige and said not getting to see what Klein and Stang could accomplish this season was a regret.

"Last year, he was definitely one of our top three guys and I had him (at second) singles, but he is happier on a doubles court," Rings said. "He's worked hard on his game. He betters himself during the offseason and stays busy in the summer. I knew I could depend on him every year."

Dallas Stang, a 2011 graduate, was the first of his family to play for Rings. Younger brother Lucas was two years behind, followed by sisters Lydia and Jillian - who graduated in 2015 and 2018, respectively - and Cooper.

"I have definitely learned from them, playing with and against them, but I don't think I play the same as any of them," Cooper said. "I think my older brothers use a lot of power, but I like to play more strategic.

"I don't get down on myself too much. I learned that from them."

Dallas and Lucas both attended Ohio University, where Jillian currently is a sophomore. Lydia attended Purdue.

Cooper plans to study chemical engineering at Ohio State and hopes to join the Buckeyes club team. He earned a Silver Racquet Award last year from the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association, which goes to juniors who have maintained at least a 3.75 GPA and earned two varsity letters.

According to Rings, Stang was on track to win the senior equivalent, a Golden Racquet Award, this year.

Klein and Stang were two of Central's four seniors this season, along with Dylan Blauer and Riley O'Rourke.

"Every year was a success for (Stang)," Rings said. "You go with each kid and what they bring. You get to know them and enjoy them all."

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