Hartley Roundup: Hawks boys tennis team grew into ‘brotherhood’

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
John Hooker was one of six seniors who competed for the Hartley boys tennis team in the postseason. The Hawks finished 7-5 overall and 1-3 in the CCL.

As they prepared for what would be the final match of their careers on the Hartley boys tennis team, seniors Dominic Rees and Braden Blanchard used words like “brotherhood” and “awesome” to describe what this season had been like.

The doubles-team players were among six seniors competing in the Division II sectional May 13 at Columbus Academy and they made it the furthest, following up a first-round bye with a second-round victory before losing 6-2, 6-0 to fourth-seeded Jacob Zang and Grant Welsch of Jonathan Alder in a quarterfinal. 

“Even though some people say, ‘Oh, it’s just tennis,’ we’re with each other every day for two hours,” Rees said. “All of our hard work (has paid) off.” 

Hartley finished 7-5 overall after going 2-13 in 2019 when players such as Rees and classmates Nick Chovan and John Hooker were key contributors as sophomores.  

Hooker played first singles most of the season and lost 7-5, 6-0 to Grandview’s Tyler Schmied in the first round at sectional, while Chovan reached the second round, where he lost 6-0, 6-0 to top-seeded Ryan Panley of Academy. 

The other singles competitor was sophomore Peter Reinker, who played third singles most of the season and should be the top returnee next spring. He lost 6-1, 6-1 to Centennial’s Max Wissman, the fourth seed, in the first round at sectional. 

Seniors Ben Gregorski and John Sands were the other doubles team, and they lost 6-1, 6-3 to Watterson’s Adam Pavliga and Johnny DiOrio in the second round. 

“Being out here and being with this group of guys was so much fun,” Blanchard said. 

Junior Ryan Clark and freshman Terry Wilkins should be other top returnees after gaining limited experience this spring. 

It marked the third time in four seasons that the Hawks finished with a winning record. They went 1-3 in the CCL to finish fourth behind champion St. Charles (4-0). 

“All of the seniors that played this year were scheduled to play last year before the pandemic, so we’re slowly turning it around a little bit with building up the program a little bit where we’re not just senior-driven,” coach Daniel Chun said. “Last year we would have been sophomore-junior heavy and it hasn’t always been that way. Hopefully next year we’ll get some more underclassmen to come up.” 

Kami Kortokrax (left) was one of two seniors on the Hartley softball team, while sophomore Cassidy Smith is expected to be one of the top returnees.

Most of softball 

team to return 

During the 11th-seeded softball team’s 7-2 loss to sixth-seeded Granville on May 12 in the second round of the Division II district tournament, shortstop Kami Kortokrax went 3-for-4 with a home run. 

Kortokrax was one of only two seniors in the program, but first-year coach Allie Smith knows how difficult it will be to replace the Ohio State signee. 

Kortokrax hit .579 with seven home runs, was walked 19 times and struck out just once all season for the Hawks, who finished 6-15 overall. 

“We’re so young that I don’t necessarily expect (leadership) from any position,” Smith said. “It’s really just going to be whoever shows up over the offseason and puts in the work and decides they want to fill that leadership role. They’re going to have to be willing to be a leader in that sense of servant-leadership.” 

The other senior was Caitlin Smith, who didn’t play as a sophomore because of an injury but started in center field. 

Sophomores Becca LeMay and Reese Beatty are eligible to return after being the top two pitchers, and they also split time at first base. 

Freshmen Chloe Best and Faith Campbell started in the outfield, with junior Riley Mann at third base and sophomore Cassidy Smith at second base. 

Sophomore Rachel Thompson (OF/INF) and freshmen Layla Gardner-Buchanan (OF/INF), Tatum Hoover (OF/INF) and Ashley Vinas (OF) are others eligible to return. 

The Hawks went 1-5 to finish last in the five-team CCL, but their league victory was 12-6 over champion DeSales on April 22. They also won 6-3 on April 17 over Bloom-Carroll, which was the second seed for the Division II district tournament. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect this season because there were so many young players,” coach Smith said. “We had some great wins that we were really excited about, but those made some of our losses more disappointing. Part of learning how to play at the varsity level is not just how to beat one team but how to beat teams consistently.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

SOFTBALL 

Record: 6-15 overall  

CCL standings: DeSales (5-1), Watterson (4-2), Ready (2-4), Hartley (1-5) 

Seniors lost: Kami Kortokrax and Caitlin Smith 

Key returnees: Reese Beatty, Chloe Best, Faith Campbell, Becca LeMay, Riley Mann, Ava McKee and Cassidy Smith 

Postseason: Lost to Granville 7-2 in second round of Division II district tournament 

BOYS TENNIS 

Record: 7-5 overall  

CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1), DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3), Ready (0-4) 

Seniors lost: Braden Blanchard, Nick Chovan, Ben Gregorski, John Hooker, Dominic Rees, John Sands, Nic Stanssen and Zach Sweeney 

Key returnees: Ryan Clark, Peter Reinker and Terry Wilkins