Reddy's steady play helps Vikings make transition
On the eve of the OTCA Division II final four team tournament last season, the Columbus Academy boys tennis team held a practice at Ohio State.
Coach Jeff Warstler was working with his first-doubles team of Pavan Reddy and Austin Griffin on how to run a cross-switch properly when embarrassment struck.
"Griffin was cutting in behind Pavan and Pavan fell flat on his face," Warstler said. "It was in front of everyone. All Pavan did is get up and laugh. He tried it again and the next day he executed it like it's been in his arsenal all the time."
The next day, Reddy and Griffin used their newly learned skill to beat Cincinnati Indian Hill's Vinod Mahlingam and Devin McCarthy.
"Pavan went toe to toe with Vinod Mahlingam, who was the best doubles player in the state, and beat him," said Warstler, whose team lost the OTCA final to Indian Hill 3-2.
"Vinod was considered the best player in the state. Pavan just wins big doubles matches and does amazing things in the clutch."
Reddy has been an important factor as Academy has piled victories the past three seasons. He settled into the role on the doubles courts and hasn't left.
"Honestly, I'd much rather play doubles than singles," Reddy said. "In the beginning, my goals were to be a singles player. When I got to varsity, I was put at second doubles and me and Austin formed really well. Coach Warstler taught me how to play doubles and I grew to like it very much. I think of myself as a doubles player by definition."
Academy is well-known for its first-singles player in Will Petrie and rightfully so. Petrie has been a three-time state qualifier. Yet Pavan's steady play has been equally important, according to Warstler.
"Will is a superstar and is out of this world," Warstler said. "Pavan has been that glue.
"Will is who I think is the best player in the history of the school and Pavan is the best doubles player. He's definitely our unsung hero."
In his final season, Reddy has switched partners from the graduated Griffin to Joey Frank. The results have been the same.
"Austin was great but Joey is doing a really good job replacing him at first doubles," Reddy said.
Reddy's knowledge when it comes to doubles play has allowed Frank to make a smooth transition. As a result, Academy's first-doubles court has continued to rack up wins.
"Pavan is a perfect doubles partner," Warstler said. "He takes responsibility for everything and he's the ultimate guy to play with. He keeps everyone at ease and comes up with big shots."
Reddy is the first to admit he is a different player than he was three years ago. He has learned hard work on and off the court allowed for circumstances where he's beating the state's best doubles players. That win against Indian Hill last season also has elevated his confidence level.
"In the beginning, I felt as if all these players looked good and I wasn't confident about my ability to do much," Reddy said. "As I began succeeding and winning matches, I realized I can do this. From the support of my doubles partner, team and coach, my overall confidence level has gone up."
Academy was 10-2 overall and 3-0 in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio Division before a match last Tuesday against Grandview. The Vikings beat Bexley (5-0 on April 22), West Jefferson (5-0 on April 24), Shaker Heights (5-0 last Friday), Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit (3-2 last Saturday) and Maumee Valley Country Day (5-0 last Saturday) to extend their winning streak to eight matches.
Today, Academy is at Whitehall followed by matches at home Tuesday against Granville and Wednesday at New Albany.
On May 10, the Vikings play host to the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio tournament, and between now and then Warstler plans to use Reddy in an area in which he's not too familiar.
"I told him the other day I wouldn't mind putting him at a singles match before the end of the year," Warstler said. "He wouldn't care where I put him, but he's been such a good kid. He's never clamored for anything, he just wants to play and win."
•The baseball team surpassed its regular season win total from a year ago as Academy beat Northridge 12-5 on April 19. Last season, the Vikings finished just 6-22 after three postseason victories, but they were 4-8-2 overall and 1-6 in the MSL-Ohio before a game last Tuesday against Lakewood.
"We're playing much better as a team," first-year coach Jim Collis said. "Fielding is getting better every game and we're making not just routine plays but special plays. The attitude has been outstanding and I'm pleased with the development of the team."
The Vikings played last Wednesday against Whitehall and will finish the regular-season schedule today at Wellington, Friday at home against Granville, Monday at Newark Catholic and Wednesday at home against Licking Valley.
"We're in a really competitive league," Collis said. "Playing this good competition will help you come playoff time. It can't hurt."
Last season, the Vikings won three Division IV district tournament games before losing in a district semifinal to fourth-seeded Worthington Christian 12-9.
"We're in Division III this year," Collis said. "But the league has definitely put us in a situation where day in and day out you're preparing for tough games."
Through 13 games, Jordon Rhyne led Academy with a .389 batting average, followed by Albert Lavin at .371 and Brian Black at .367. On the mound Nick Sergakis had 25 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 2/3 inning pitched and a 1.07 ERA, Black pitched a team-high 21 2/3 innings with 21 strikeouts and Ben Nicola was 2-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 13 innings pitched.
At a glance
Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Academy girls lacrosse and boys and girls track and field teams:
April 22 -- Defeated Wellington 17-8. Layne Averill and Ali Dillon scored four goals.
April 24 -- Lost to Upper Arlington 10-7. Dillon scored two goals.
Last Saturday -- Def. Dublin Jerome 15-12. Averill scored four goals.
Last Tuesday -- Played Thomas Worthington
Today -- Home vs. Thomas. Academy won 5-4 last season.
Tuesday -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman. The teams did not play last season.
Of note: The Vikings were 7-2 before last Tuesday.
TRACK & FIELD
Last Saturday -- Boys: Finished third (117) in Bloom-Carroll Invitational behind Whetstone (158) and Berne Union (141). Winners were Geb Keny in the 1,600 (4:49.3) and 800 (1:59.5), Jake Beatley in the high jump (6-4) and the 3,200 relay (8:37.2); Girls: Finished fifth (79) behind champion Ready (147) The 3,200 relay finished first (11:00.2).
Last Tuesday -- Girls: Competed at Columbus School for Girls against CSG and Watterson.
Saturday -- At Mount Gilead Invitational
Tuesday -- Boys: Home vs. Hartley and Ready