Senior Weston Herbert couldn't hide his disappointment after the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team's match with Pickerington North on April 20.

Senior Weston Herbert couldn't hide his disappointment after the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team's match with Pickerington North on April 20.

The Lions defeated North 4-1 in a key OCC-Ohio Division match, but Herbert and sophomore Daniel Emoff suffered Gahanna's only loss after falling to Pickerington North's Brian Good and Alex Bartsch 6-3, 6-4 at first doubles.

"We really didn't play our game," Herbert said. "If we kept the ball in play just a little more, we would've won that. That's what hurts the most."

Herbert and Emoff's disappointment shows how far the Lions have come in two years. When he was a sophomore, Herbert said he would've been ecstatic with beating North regardless of how he performed. If the Lions are going to repeat as OCC-Ohio champions, they can't afford to lose focus.

Teams are given a point for every court they capture in league play as well as an additional point for winning the match. Going into last Tuesday, Gahanna was 5-0 in the OCC with 27 points after 5-0 wins over Grove City on April 22 and Lancaster last Friday. Pickerington Central was 4-1 with 25 points and Grove City was 4-1 with 17 points.

"The guys know that every point in OCC matches is important," coach Chris Schwinnen said. "It's possible for us to go undefeated in the league and still be in second place going into the league tournament (on May 8)."

Schwinnen said that's why Herbert and Emoff at first doubles and Sam Raybuck and Demetrius Stevenson at second doubles are critical for the Lions' success.

Gahanna has a solid singles lineup with Jesse Shivener (first singles), Canyon Teague (second singles) and Steven Cheng (third singles). Last year, Shivener and Cheng captured OCC titles at first and second singles, respectively. Gahanna went 7-0 and scored 63 points to finish ahead of Central (53), North (53), Reynoldsburg (39), Newark (26), Grove City (18), Lancaster (12) and Groveport (5).

Through nine matches, Gahanna was 14-4 overall on its two doubles courts. Schwinnen said Herbert has been one of the catalysts for bringing the team together.

"Weston sets the tone," Schwinnen said. "The guys were excited they won the league title, our first one since 1981. Weston said, 'Hey, let's not let up. Let's repeat and get a tradition going.'"

Schwinnen said Emoff has been the perfect complement to Herbert. Both players have a solid outside serve that sets up the other at the net.

Emoff said, at 6-foot-1, Herbert casts an intimidating shadow at the net.

"A lot of times, an opponent will blow a shot into the net when he moves in," Emoff said. "Volleying is the best part of my game. So when he moves in, they hit it at me and I can put it away."

Personality-wise, the two are also a good match. While Herbert has been the emotional leader of the team, Emoff has been its steadying influence.

"One of the things my dad taught me was composure and discipline will help you stay in any sport," Emoff said. "Even too much happiness can be bad because you can get overconfident. I don't let (Herbert) get too down and he keeps me calm."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Gahanna boys tennis team:

*April 13 - Defeated Pickerington Central 3-2

April 14 - Def. Coshocton 5-0

*April 15 - Def. Newark 5-0

April 16 - Match at Hilliard Bradley postponed

April 17 - Def. Ashland 5-0

*April 20 - Def. Pickerington North 4-1

*April 22 - Def. Grove City 5-0

*Last Friday - Def. Lancaster 5-0

Last Saturday - Match at Athens postponed

Last Monday - Match against Westerville South in the second round of the OTCA team postponed

*Last Tuesday - Played Reynoldsburg

Last Wednesday - Played Granville

*Tuesday - Home vs. Groveport

Wednesday - Home vs. Upper Arlington

May 6 - At St. Charles

Of note: The Lions were 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio match