Teague perseveres in No. 1 singles spot
When junior Canyon Teague of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys tennis team went to see his doctor in December about his agonizing back pain, he received a diagnosis he didn't want to hear.
Teague was told he had a stress fracture in his back and, as a result, had to refrain from playing tennis and running -- his two passions -- for four months.
"I knew there was something wrong with my back. I just didn't want it to be that," he said. "I never thought I'd be injured like that and have to miss that much time."
Teague was medically cleared to resume playing on April 17 and made his season debut in a 4-1 win over Lancaster on April 23. Entering a match against Dublin Scioto on May 8, he was 4-0 at first singles.
Teague is seeded third in singles behind Reynoldsburg's Cameron Raglin and Westerville Central's Luke Buchanan for the Division I sectional tournament on Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Reynoldsburg. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 18 and 19 at Hilliard Davidson.
Teague, who will face the winner of a play-in match between Pickerington North's Cameron Friedman and Thomas Worthington's Joshua Ong in the first round, said how far he goes in the postseason may depend on his conditioning.
"In singles, you have to cover the whole court," he said. "There's a lot more running and it takes a bigger toll on your body."
Teague played doubles in the postseason the past two seasons, losing a three-set match in the state-qualifying round at district each year. He and Stephen Cheng, who did not return this spring for his senior season, lost to St. Charles' Grant Dolven and Weston Niermeyer 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 last year and lost to New Albany's Riyad Bennoui and John Hendrix 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 in 2010.
"Canyon has been steadily improving," coach Chris Schwinnen said. "He's not back to 100 percent, but over the last couple of days we've been ramping up the work in practice."
Gahanna has had at least one district representative nine consecutive seasons.
Also competing in singles at sectional are junior John Spain, who will face Thomas' Carlos Waibl in the first round, and junior Aaron Thomas, who will open against Reynoldsburg's Brandon Person.
In doubles, seniors Alex Gavrilov and Sam Raybuck will face Mount Vernon's Jake Kight and Nick Robinson in a play-in match and senior Daniel Emoff and freshman Eric Chen will play Chillicothe's K.J. King and Jay Sparks or Groveport's Jacob Bogner and Tommy Van Atta in the first round.
"There are some really good teams there -- Reynoldsburg, Pickerington North and Westerville Central," Schwinnen said. "But I'm happy with the draw for all our spots.
"Our doubles teams have winnable matches and I think if we play well enough, we might be able to get someone to the district tournament. It will be tough and we'll have to beat some seeded teams to get there, but I will put our guys against anyone at our site."
OCC STREAK ENDS -- Gahanna's three-year run as the OCC-Ohio Division champion ended as it finished the league tournament on May 5 at Reynoldsburg with 47 points.
The Lions went 5-2 in league duals.
Gahanna finished third in the overall league standings behind Pickerington North (7-0, 63) and Reynoldsburg (6-1, 60) and ahead of Grove City (4-3, 32), Pickerington Central (3-4, 29), Lancaster (2-5, 18), Groveport (1-6, 16) and Newark (0-7, 3).
The Lions advanced to the final on two courts in the league tournament. Teague and Emoff captured the first doubles championship, defeating North's Pat Yen and Ben Keen 6-2, 6-4, and Raybuck placed second at third singles, losing to Reynoldsburg's Yosef Maher 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the final.
Also for the Lions, Thomas defeated Lancaster's Ricky Renko 8-6 to place seventh at first singles, Gavrilov lost to Grove City's Andrew Ray 9-8 to finish sixth at second singles and the second-doubles team of Spain and Chen defeated Grove City's Taisto Laine and Bryton Wise 6-0, 6-2 to place third.