Boys Tennis: Westerville Central Warhawks playing final season under coach Brian Arnett
Brian Arnett hopes his 17th and final season as Westerville Central boys tennis coach will be memorable.
Arnett has announced that he will step down after the season. His son, Will, is a senior on the team.
“This year is it for me,” said coach Arnett, who also is an assistant boys basketball coach at Olentangy Berlin. “This is my last one in tennis. I’m still coaching basketball at Berlin and going back to back (with) basketball and tennis is a lot. It’s just time.”
Central opened with a 5-0 win over Mount Vernon on April 5 and lost 4-1 to Big Walnut on April 7.
Will Arnett, senior Michael Weiler and junior Nick Buehler return from the 2019 team that finished 3-9.
Arnett, Weiler and junior Tyler Gebbie have been vying for the starting singles positions.
“All three are really even,” coach Arnett said. “They’ve all beaten each other, so until someone separates it will be a little bit of trial and error each night. Competition is great. They compete hard against each other and they’re all supportive of each other. Competition makes everybody better.”
Buehler should split time between singles and doubles, while the remaining players are contending for doubles spots. Those players are seniors Jackson Rittman, Josh Qian, Sam Rojansakdakul and Luke Welling and juniors Rohan Mawalkar and Max Rojansakdakul.
“From top to bottom, we’re really solid,” Arnett said. “We’re lacking the elite player at the top of the lineup, which you like to have. You have to be able to anchor the No. 1 spot, but there’s not a huge drop-off from one through seven.”
The Warhawks are competing in the OCC-Ohio Division with Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany and Pickerington North.
INSIDE THE WARHAWKS
•Coach: Brian Arnett, 17th season
•Next match: April 15 at Grove City
•Key athletes: Will Arnett, Tyler Gebbie and Michael Weiler
South has a new coach as Stephanie Thomas has replaced Ryan French, who led the team for five seasons.
Thomas is 2010 graduate of El Dorado (Arkansas). She coached the school’s boys and girls teams the past five years.
“These kids are the best,” said Thomas, who is a physical education teacher at Horizon Science Academy Middle School. “They show up before practice and they want to stay later. They have a tennis mentality and they want to play and get better.”
Freshman Samson Gurgiolo is playing first singles and sophomore Nikita Kitaev is at second singles.
“Samson and Nikita really challenge each other to play better,” Thomas said. “It’s a toss-up between the two of them, but I like the competition that they have between each other.”
Senior Adrian Self, the lone returnee from 2019, is playing third singles.
Seniors Daniel Murray and Emmanuel Okyere are playing first doubles, with seniors Max Chambers and Henry Tran at second doubles.
“It’s kind of a strange season because a lot of these kids were not able to have a season last year, so for our returners it’s a little special for them,” Thomas said.
South is competing in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights, Westerville North and Worthington Kilbourne.
The Wildcats opened April 6 with a 5-0 loss at Scioto.
INSIDE THE WILDCATS
•Coach: Stephanie Thomas, first season
•Next match: April 15 at Delaware
•Key athletes: Samson Gurgiolo, Nikita Kitaev and Adrian Self
likes team’s depth
Second-year North coach Jim Chellis is impressed by the depth of his squad.
Senior first-singles player Carter Jones leads the Warriors, who were 2-1 after defeating Granville 3-2 on April 7.
“I think overall we’re deeper than we were two years ago,” said Chellis, whose team won its OCC-Capital opener 5-0 over Franklin Heights on April 6. “You can tell Carter has a better overall game than he did two years ago, and he’s one of the better players in the area. We should show a great deal of progress.”
Jones’ brother, freshman Tyler Jones, plays second singles and freshman Shrey Shyamalan is at third singles.
Senior Tim Alston is paired in first doubles with sophomore Cori Bohan, who plays soccer instead of girls tennis in the fall. Juniors Matt Lake and Alex Workman started the season at second doubles.
Senior Adam Kaiser is recovering from a broken toe but should work his way into the lineup.
Sophomore Erin Huynh and freshmen Alex Hedrick and Jameson Hemmerly also could see varsity playing time.
“We expect Carter to rack up some wins, and we have freshmen on the other two singles courts,” Chellis said. “They have talent, but are still freshmen. They might take their lumps early, but they should be OK.”
INSIDE THE WARRIORS
•Coach: Jim Chellis, second season
•Next match: April 15 at Canal Winchester
•Key athletes: Tim Alston, Cori Bohan, Carter Jones, Tyler Jones and Shrey Shyamalan