Groveport Madison High School girls tennis coach Doug Ewart knows his team faces a major challenge when it competes in the Division I sectional tournament this week at Pickerington Central.
The sectional begins Thursday, Oct. 3, with district qualifiers playing placement matches Saturday, Oct. 5. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district Oct. 11 and 12 at Hilliard Davidson.
"All four sectional sites are difficult, but being about the last on the board (at the tournament draw Sept. 22), we have a very, very difficult challenge in every match," Ewart said. "I will be content as long as we go out, play hard and play to our abilities. If that gives us a chance to win a match here or there, great. But as long as we give it our all, we're going to enjoy it."
Competing in singles for the Cruisers will be seniors Hannah Roach and Kaysea Smith and junior Jordan Gilmore. Senior Alex Goodwin and her sister, junior Elise Goodwin, will form one of two doubles teams, with junior Cheyanne Morris and sophomore Lindsey Ferrin comprising the other.
"We're playing well right now," Alex Goodwin said. "We got a little flustered in one of our recent matches, so our goal is just to stay calm and do the best we can."
Groveport tied Westerville North for first in the eighth-place OCC tournament, which consisted of the eighth-place teams in the four OCC divisions. The Cruisers, who are in the OCC-Ohio, and North (OCC-Cardinal) both scored 16 points in the event Sept. 25 as host Central Crossing (OCC-Central) and Franklin Heights (OCC-Capital) finished third (13) and fourth (5), respectively.
"Winning our pool was a thrill for the girls and for me," Ewart, whose team went 0-7 in the OCC-Ohio during the regular season.
"The girls were playing hard for each other and it was just a great situation. We were together and it was the culmination of everything we worked on in September."
"It was rewarding for us as a team," Alex Goodwin said. "It gave us some confidence and made us feel good about what we've been working on."
Ferrin (first singles), Smith (second singles) and Gilmore and Morris (second doubles) won titles in the eighth-place OCC tournament.
"Gilmore and Morris went 11-1 in September," Ewart said. "That's quite an accomplishment."
Volleyball team showing progress
The girls volleyball team broke a four-match losing streak Sept. 28 when it defeated Watkins Memorial 25-13, 25-21 in a tri-match at Westerville South.
Groveport, which then lost to South 25-7, 25-21, was 6-12 overall and 1-9 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Newark on Oct. 1.
Last week, the Cruisers lost to Grove City 25-11, 25-12, 25-15 in a league match Sept. 24, lost to Hamilton Township 31-29, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25, 15-11 on Sept. 25 and lost to Lancaster 25-15, 25-15, 25-17 in a league match Sept. 26.
"We've had some ups and downs lately," coach Brooke Incorvaia said. "We played extremely well in the loss to Hamilton Township. We lost the first two games, including a real long first game. But we came back to win the next two and the fifth game was pretty tight.
"But then we came out and didn't play so well against Lancaster. But it was our third match in three days and we looked tired. I only wish we had played all season like we did against Hamilton Township. When we play like that, we can compete with just about anybody."
Incorvaia lauded the play of outside hitter Madison Wilson and middle hitters Amanda Arrowood and Shianne Curry.
"Wilson had 23 kills against Hamilton Township and Arrowood had 10 blocks," Incorvaia said. "They've both been playing very well. Curry's blocking has also improved and she's stepping up, not just in skill but in leadership. She's a motivating force for us on the court."
Groveport recently switched to a 6-2 system and Incorvaia said the girls continue to adjust to it.
"We need to keep working on it, but I think it's what we'll be using next year," she said. "We'll need to use two setters next year and both (Amanda Madsen and Page Beal) are juniors. They need to play together in order to get better for next year."
The Cruisers will close the regular season with league matches Thursday, Oct. 3, against Pickerington North at home, Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Pickerington Central and Oct. 10 at home against Reynoldsburg.
Groveport's lone win in its first 10 league matches came against Reynoldsburg, 27-25, 25-22, 27-25 on Sept. 17.
The Division I district tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 6.
Football team still looking for first win
The football team enters its OCC-Ohio game against Lancaster on Friday, Oct. 4, at home still searching for its first win.
Groveport dropped to 0-5 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Ohio with a 55-0 loss to Grove City on Sept. 27. That same night, Lancaster lost to Pickerington North 38-6 to fall to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the league.
First-year coach Bryan Schoonover is quite familiar with Lancaster, as he served as the Golden Gales' offensive coordinator the past three years. The Gales' triple-option offense includes 6-foot-6, 305-pound lineman and Ohio State recruit Kyle Trout.
The Cruisers lost to Lancaster 35-34 last year en route to finishing 0-7 in the league.