Having captured the OCC-Ohio Division championship the past two years, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team is setting its sights on bigger targets this season.

Having captured the OCC-Ohio Division championship the past two years, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team is setting its sights on bigger targets this season.

"We're looking at making an impact in central Ohio," said second-year coach Chris Schwinnen, whose team opens Tuesday, April 5, with an OCC-Ohio match at Lancaster. "Our first goal is still to win the OCC-Ohio Division, but we're looking to make a run in the OTCA team tournament, beat some of these well-established teams and get someone through (to state) in either singles or doubles.

"For us to do that, we have to play with confidence. It's going to be tough, but we want to make our mark."

Gahanna finished 14-1 overall last year with its lone setback being 5-0 to Dublin Jerome in an OTCA quarterfinal. The Lions went 7-0 in OCC-Ohio dual matches and finished the league tournament with 67 points to edge runner-up Pickerington Central (6-1, 58) for the title.

Pickerington North finished third (5-2, 43) in the league, followed by Grove City (4-3, 25), Reynoldsburg (2-5, 24), Newark (2-5, 20), Lancaster (2-5, 17) and Groveport (0-7, 14).

The Lions return six of their top seven players, including senior Jesse Shivener (first singles), junior Stephen Cheng (third singles) and sophomore Canyon Teague (second singles).

All three captured their respective court championships at the league tournament and almost ended the Lions' six-year absence from the state tournament. Shivener defeated Upper Arlington's Stefan Treglia 7-5, 6-4 in the first round at district before losing a state-qualifying match to Olentangy Liberty's Arren Carter 6-1, 6-2. Cheng and Teague teamed to play doubles and beat Liberty's Tyler Gibbons and Jon McMahan 6-4, 6-1 in the first round at district before losing a state-qualifying match to New Albany's Riyad Bennoui and John Hendrix 6-0, 4-6, 6-3.

Carter went on to reach a state quarterfinal, and Bennoui and Hendrix went on to be the state runners-up.

Schwinnen said it's going to take solid performances from the doubles teams for the Lions to reach their goals.

Juniors Dan Emhoff and Sam Raybuck played first doubles last year and likely will play that court again this year. Seniors Billy Smith and Sam Sobul, junior Alex Gavrilov and sophomore Aaron Thomas also are vying for playing time at doubles.

"Right now, we're trying to find out who works well together," Schwinnen said. "Doubles is all about finding the right combination of players. We're still not sure how it is going to end up."

The Lions finished second on both doubles courts at the league tournament last year.

"Our doubles are going to make us or break us, especially if our singles players have an off night," Schwinnen said. "We can't have a hiccup. Our doubles teams can make or break us."