Girls Tennis: Dublin Jerome keeps rolling despite youth
One of three seniors in the program but with little previous varsity experience, Ashley Tarrant wasn't sure what she and her teammates on the Dublin Jerome girls tennis team could expect this fall.
So far, not much has changed other than the fact that many of the players who likely would have been contributors are taking on even bigger roles.
Despite sometimes having two freshmen in their lineup, the Celtics were 8-2 overall after beating Olentangy Liberty 3-2 on Sept. 17 and went 5-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to capture their 17th consecutive league title.
"Going into my senior year, I was a little worried with us losing five of the seven starters (from last season), but we've all worked so hard," Tarrant said.
"Despite (the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic) slowing things down at the start, we're all as bonded as ever and are having so much fun. I think we can do great things the rest of the season."
The Celtics lost to Pickerington Central 3-2 on Sept. 14 in the second round of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I team tournament after reaching a district semifinal last season, but they bounced back the next day to win 3-2 at Coffman.
Tarrant and freshman Adayla Coakley teamed up at first doubles to win their match 6-3, 2-6, 6-0 and wrap up Jerome's victory over the Shamrocks.
"Every one of these girls has talent and we always lift each other up, especially when we're playing doubles," Coakley said.
Jerome went 18-1 last season and had its doubles team of Arya Dudipala and Lalasa Nagireddy beat teammates Reagan Resor and Katherine Wang in the state championship match.
While Resor and Wang graduated, both Dudipala and Nagireddy elected not to return this fall.
Sophomore Ella Oleson has stepped in at first singles, with senior Sudi Pelluru splitting time between second singles and doubles.
Against Coffman, freshman Lydia Foster won at third singles and the team of senior Manjana Mangaporum and junior Giovanna Ozoude won at second doubles.
Junior Audrey Cook also has been a contributor in her first season with the program. She won at third singles against Liberty.
"It's obviously been kind of a trial by fire (for Oleson), one of those where you take a few lumps in the short term, but in the long term, the experience she's getting will be invaluable," coach Ken Berlin said. "That's the same thing down the line because everybody has kind of moved up. We've always had the next-girl-up mentality. We do what we need to do and it gives girls more opportunities since we're a younger team and a more inexperienced team."
The postseason drawing will be held Sunday, Sept. 27, with sectionals set for Oct. 8 and 10 at four sites.
Berlin isn't sure who will be playing singles or doubles in the postseason, but he likes his options.
"We won our 17th (league title) in a row, and it was really big to keep that streak going," he said. "That was one of our goals. Honestly I haven't even really thought about (the postseason lineup). We have a lot of combinations that play well together."