The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls tennis team opened by winning three of its first four matches only to lose five of its next six.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School girls tennis team opened by winning three of its first four matches only to lose five of its next six.

A similar thing happened last year when the Lions won their first three matches but lost eight of their next 10.

Yet second-year coach Chris Schwinnen has noticed a difference in how his team has handled the recent skid.

"The overall attitude of the girls has been a big improvement," Schwinnen said. "They've stayed solid and they're trying to stay positive. We take each loss as it is and move on. Last year, sometimes we'd be thinking since we lost the last three matches, we'd go into each match defeated."

Despite the losses, Schwinnen has seen positive signs.

"We're playing hard," he said. "Last year we got into a groove where we couldn't win the close matches. We were one or two points away. This year, we're having matches come down to the wire and the girls are out there battling and giving it their all."

First-singles player Megan McGuff was not only frustrated by the losses, but how an inconsistent schedule affected their routine.

"With the rain we're getting off to a slow week," she said. "We haven't been able to hit as much or get in some practice time. But we have a lot of returning upperclassmen from last year, so we have the experience and we're more focused this year."

Gahanna will need that focus as the Lions travel Saturday to Pickerington Central to compete in the OCC-Ohio Division tournament. Last season, Gahanna finished fourth (4-3 in duals, 38 points) in the OCC-Ohio behind champion Central (7-0, 68).

Central is once again the favorite as the Tigers were 11-2 overall and 5-0 in the conference before last Tuesday's match against Reynoldsburg.

"Central has been the most impressive team," said Schwinnen, whose team lost to the Tigers 4-1 on Sept. 1. "Central is head and shoulders better above everyone else we've played this season."

Gahanna, which was 2-3 in the conference before last Tuesday, has realistic expectations entering Saturday's tournament.

"We'd like to avenge some of the losses we suffered in the regular season," Schwinnen said. "After losses to Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (4-1 on Sept. 8) the girls came off the court disappointed and said they wanted to get them in the tournament.

"We'd like to move up a position or two and beat some teams that beat us in the regular season."

Schwinnen is sticking with the same lineup he's used the last seven matches with McGuff at first singles, Kiara Shaw at second singles and Kathryn Emoff at third singles.

At first doubles will be Hannah Fisher and Alex Murch and at No. 2 doubles will be Andrea Crouch and Cassie Radke.

"We need to learn from our mistakes in the regular season," McGuff said. "There are matches we lost that we should have won. We'll focus on what we're not doing well and try to fix them for the tournament as well as focus on opponents' weaknesses."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln girls tennis team:

Sept. 8 -- Lost to Pickerington North 4-1 Sept. 15 -- Defeated Worthington Kilbourne 4-1 Sept. 21 -- Match vs. Hilliard Davidson postponed because of bad weather. No makeup date has been announced. *Sept. 22 -- Lost to Reynoldsburg 3-2 Sept. 23 -- Def. Westerville North 4-1 Sept. 24 -- Match vs. Westerville Central postponed because of bad weather. No makeup date has been announced. *Last Tuesday -- Played Groveport Saturday -- OCC-Ohio tournament at Pickerington Central Of note: The Lions were 6-7 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio match