Wellington Roundup: Jaguars boys tennis team will be work in progress
With a strong junior class and a small group of seniors contributing, the Wellington boys tennis team captured its second consecutive OTCA Division II state championship in 2019.
Needless to say, the Jaguars had high expectations last season with the return of 2020 graduates Trevor Ball, Milan Gonela and Ben Marshall before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
While three contributors from 2019 are back, there are enough players looking to fill major roles for the first time that coach Tommy Haddow isn’t quite sure how his lineup will look over the coming weeks.
“It’s fun,” Haddow said. “It’s different without (the players we lost in 2019 and 2020), but we’ll be working a lot. I think we’ll get better as the season goes on.”
While Ball is playing for Northern Kentucky after finishing fourth in the state singles tournament in 2019 and Gonela is playing at Denison, seniors Griffin Biernat and Evan Manley and junior Brayden Chawla give the Jaguars a strong foundation.
Biernat – whose brother, 2019 graduate Connor Biernat, is playing for Skidmore – is at first singles. Griffin Biernat teamed with Gonela to reach the second round in doubles at district in 2019.
Manley, freshman Sanjan Shankar and junior Sedeq Al-Ali also are playing singles. Manley competed in the 2019 postseason in singles.
Chawla saw action at singles in 2019 when Ball missed time with injury and is among the team’s singles and doubles players along with sophomores Jack Kalnicki and Sriharsha Reddy and freshman Hussein Al-Ali.
Despite playing most of the regular season without Ball in 2019, the Jaguars went 13-3 overall and were the MSL-Ohio Division runner-up at 4-1 behind Academy (5-0).
•Coach: Tommy Haddow, ninth season
•Next match: April 19 at Olentangy
•Key athletes: Hussein Al-Ali, Sedeq Al-Ali, Griffin Biernat, Brayden Chawla, Evan Manley and Sanjan Shankar
Track teams excited
to get season started
Wellington will have a track and field season for the first time since 2016 when Keilah Causey competed in the 200 meters at the girls Division III state meet.
About two dozen athletes came out last spring before the season was canceled for coach Tonderai Tomu, who also is the cross country coach.
“This spring, athletes have done a great job of sharing the word about track and encouraging more students to join the team as they geared up for the start of the season," assistant coach Cristina Cross said. "It’s been exciting to see the athletes buy into the program.”
Seniors who should contribute include Caroline Cooke (sprints) and Reagan Kadlic (sprints) for the girls and Kethan Mokadam (shot put, discus), Kiran Mokadam (distance), Avery Rennick (high jump, long jump), Zubin Reyazi (distance) and Victor Thompson (distance) for the boys.
Other girls looking to contribute include junior Abigail Burkhardt (sprints, long jump), sophomores Olivia Robinson (sprints) and Avery Thielman (high jump) and freshmen Eva Dulle (distance) and Emme Thompson (distance).
For the boys team, juniors Jake Goudie (shot put, discus), Elliot Harpham (sprints), Zach Ware (distance) and Harvey Wheeler (sprints), sophomores Eric Albers (distance), Cameron Deguchi (sprints), Dylan Ehlers (shot put, discus), Renee Hutchins (shot put, discus) and A.J. Taylor (sprints) and freshman Henry Allen (distance) and Michael Joyce (high jump, long jump) are others who should contribute.
“We’re very excited for this season,” Cross said. “For most of the athletes, it’s their first season running track. They’ve come in with eagerness and passion, ready to compete. We look forward to lots of dropped times, big hearts and hustle out there this season as they learn more about the sport and what they’re capable of achieving.”
TRACK & FIELD
•Coach: Tonderai Tomu, first season
•Next meet: April 16 at Pat McMillin Invitational at Whitehall
•Key athletes: Boys – Cameroin Deguchi, Elliot Harpham, Michael Joyce, Kethan Mokadam, Avery Rennick, A.J. Taylor and Harvey Wheeler; Girls – Abigail Burkhardt, Caroline Cooke, Eva Dulle, Reagan Kadlic, Olivia Robinson, Avery Thielman and Emme Thompson