Girls Tennis: Hilliard Darby seeking answers in doubles

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
Chantrea Thip of the Darby girls tennis team volleys during a doubles match against Bradley on Aug. 12. Thip is one of 11 seniors for the Panthers and fourth-year coach Shawn Morris.

After playing last season with only one senior, the Hilliard Darby girls tennis team has 11 this year.

Fourth-year coach Shawn Morris is hoping some of those players will help iron out the doubles rotation.

Darby was 0-4 entering a match Aug. 17 against Westerville Central. The Panthers lost to Marysville 3-2 on Aug. 7 and Big Walnut 5-0 on Aug. 10 before losing two matches Aug. 12, 4-1 to Bradley and 3-2 to Lancaster.

"Doubles is going to be a rotation of a number of kids," Morris said. "We're tinkering with things, trying to find good pairs. We had a lot of practices throughout the summer but they weren't mandatory, so not everyone was there. And we weren't going full-go playing doubles yet until we got into the first week of mandatory practice. So working in pairs together has been challenging, and (so has) trying to find the right pairs."

The Panthers lost Nidhi Patel to graduation after going 5-11 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division last season. After OCC realignment, Darby is in the OCC-Cardinal with Dublin Jerome, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington.

The singles lineup will consist of junior Lexie Mincy at first singles, freshman Mackenzie Davis at second singles and senior Allison Nolan at third singles.

Freshman Kaitlyn Irwin also is expected to see significant playing time while rotating between singles and doubles.

Morris said the Panthers' goal is to be playing their best entering the postseason.

Last year in a Division I sectional, the doubles team of Patel and Mincy went 1-1. Nolan and seniors Jordan Caple and Hallie Zacatelco went 0-1 in singles, and seniors Chantrea Thip and Makenzie Robertson finished 0-1 in doubles.

"As a team, we really just want to work together to improve our games as much as we can, and win some of those games," Mincy said.

Wildcats eager for season

Second-year Davidson coach Adrian Tolentino said his team enters the season with several competitions for starting spots.

"All these girls on any given day could beat each other," Tolentino said. "This really sparks a fire in all of them. Everybody who returns this year is competing for a varsity spot and everybody is improved. I couldn't be more excited about that. It's going to be tough to set a lineup."

Senior Ella McWherter and junior Olivia Temelkoff went 2-1 in doubles in a Division I sectional last season to fall one win shy of qualifying for district. Both are contending for starting singles spots.

Sophomore Lila Davis is another returnee. Other players are seniors Maya Koob and Stasia VanGundy, junior Elyse Holdgreve, sophomores Abby Miksza and Marin Summers and freshman Sereen Alshami.

The Wildcats open Thursday, Aug. 20, against visiting DeSales.

"Every match on our schedule, this year, I tried to make pretty competitive," Tolentino said. "DeSales is definitely going to be a really tough match for us, but our girls are going to be prepared. DeSales is a good team for us to start our season with competition-wise. They're pretty decent."

Davidson begins OCC-Central play Tuesday, Aug. 25, at home against Olentangy Orange.

"It's pretty safe to say we're in the powerhouse (realigned) division," Tolentino said. "It's going to be a tough year conference-wise. We're just going to give it our best shot with high spirits and stay positive throughout it all."

The OCC-Central also includes Dublin Coffman, Bradley, Olentangy Liberty and Upper Arlington.

The Wildcats finished 5-11 overall and 2-3 in the league last season.

"We're in high spirits at Davidson and we're just hoping for the best," Tolentino said. "We want everybody to stay safe (amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic). We have to take it a day at a time."

--Frank DiRenna

Jaguars return six starters

Bradley returns six of its seven starters from last season, including sophomore Anh Thi Thai, who reached a Division I state-qualifying match at district.

Thai lost lost that match to Liberty's Dani Schoenly 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

Also returning are seniors Reyann Askar, Nina Kisin, Dhriti Sanyasi and Jillian Weita and junior Madison Kennedy. Junior Karina Shalvo also rotated in the doubles lineup for Bradley, which finished 10-9 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal.

"We had a lot of girls who were playing over the winter and trying to get into tournaments," third-year coach Colleen Baker said. "We have a lot of kids who haven't missed a beat. They worked on their fitness levels to come in ready for the season."

Thai plays first singles with Kisin at second singles and Kennedy looking to start at third singles.

Askar and Sanyasi will play first doubles, and Shalvo and Weita are at second doubles.

Junior Jasmine Thongsavanh and freshman Grace Hurley also will see action.

"We're lucky that we have a lot to choose from, especially on the doubles courts," Baker said.

"We'll see who matches up well together and has complementary skills."

The Jaguars opened Aug. 12 with 4-1 victories over Darby and Lancaster. Thai, Kisin and Kennedy won both of their singles matches, and Askar and Sanyasi won twice in doubles.

Now in the OCC-Central, Bradley opens league competition Tuesday, Aug. 25, at home against UA.

--Scott Hennen

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At a glance

BRADLEY

*Coach: Colleen Baker, third season

*Top players: Reyann Askar, Madison Kennedy, Nina Kisin, Dhriti Sanyasi, Anh Thi Thai and Jillian Weita

*Key losses: Sai Salin and Evelina Tumash

*Last season: 10-9 overall

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Dublin Jerome (7-0), Olentangy Berlin (6-1), Dublin Scioto (5-2), Bradley (4-3), Delaware (3-4), Darby (2-5), Thomas Worthington (1-6), Worthington Kilbourne (0-7)

DARBY

*Coach: Shawn Morris, fourth season

*Top players: Mackenzie Davis, Kaitlyn Irwin, Lexie Mincy and Allison Nolan

*Key loss: Nidhi Patel

*Last season: 5-11 overall

*2019 OCC-Cardinal standings: Jerome (7-0), Berlin (6-1), Scioto (5-2), Bradley (4-3), Delaware (3-4), Darby (2-5), Thomas (1-6), Kilbourne (0-7)

DAVIDSON

*Coach: Adrian Tolentino, second season

*Top players: Lila Davis, Ella McWherter and Olivia Temelkoff

*Key losses: Katie DeSanti, Kaitlyn Quinn and Katherine Sarkel

*Last season: 5-11 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (5-0), Dublin Coffman (4-1), Marysville (3-2), Davidson (2-3), Central Crossing (1-4), Westland (0-5)