Some of the most challenging moments Reynoldsburg High School senior girls tennis player Keisha Cummings has faced so far this year didn’t take place during varsity matches.
During a preseason challenge match, Cummings needed three sets and an estimated three hours to get past junior teammate Diamond Person and earn the team’s first singles spot.
With Cummings at No. 1 and Person playing second singles, the Raiders were 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Gahanna on Sept. 3.
In addition to being teammates the last two seasons, Cummings and Person got numerous opportunities to check out one another’s games while competing in United States Tennis Association tournaments together during the summer.
The duo is expected to team up again Saturday, Sept. 7, for the Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament, which also is expected to include DeSales, Gahanna, Granville, Olentangy Orange, Thomas Worthington, Watkins Memorial and Wellington.
The event features competitions at first, second, third and fourth doubles.
Last season, Reynoldsburg tied DeSales for first (24) ahead of Gahanna (20), Thomas (15), Orange (12), Wellington (10), Granville (9) and Watkins Memorial (2).
“First of all (the doubles tournament is) fun because it’s about team, and there are a lot of players involved,” coach Les Somogyi said.
“It’s incredible having all the courts going full blast. For us coaches, it gives us a decent idea of what to expect at the sectional.”
Last season in the Reynoldsburg doubles event, Person and senior Paris Ring, who is playing third singles this season, were runners-up in second doubles. Cummings and sophomore Jadelyn Cheng were third in third doubles.
There are several who could team up with Ring at second doubles. Other doubles players for the Raiders, in addition to Cheng, include seniors Brea Brooks, Dynia Smith and Veronica Hodges, junior Jessika Acosta-Gorman and sophomore Ciara Boykins.
According to Somogyi, Cummings’ strength is her athleticism, while Person has proven to be a powerful hitter.
“Most of the time when I play singles, I’m at the baseline,” said Cummings, who has played singles for the Raiders since midway through her freshman season. “Playing doubles, you have to be at the net. Once a match has started, I know where I’m supposed to be. I played doubles in junior high and my freshman year I started out playing doubles. It’s fun, because sometimes you just want to play doubles.
“Diamond’s one of my best friends on the team. This summer there was a tournament at Pickerington Central and Diamond and I actually beat (one of the Tigers’ doubles entries) in two sets.”
Somogyi couldn’t be more pleased with his team’s performance thus far.
“Keisha, Diamond and Paris are veteran players and know what’s going on,” Somogyi said. “Paris Ring has an incredible backhand, Diamond Person has a crosscourt laser forehand and Keisha covers the entire real estate with just a few steps. They’re just consistently good players.
“I’m blown away by how well Keisha plays and how she’s stepped up. She just goes out there and gets the job done. That’s the best kind of tennis player.”
Ellis leading young golfers
Senior Darnell Ellis of the boys golf team is first in the OCC-Ohio in stroke average entering the fourth and final round of the league tournament Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Apple Valley.
After shooting 73 during the first round Aug. 7 at Darby Creek, Ellis shot a 70 on Aug. 12 in the second round at Turnberry.
Then on Aug. 28 during the third round at Granville Golf Course, Ellis carded a program-record 66.
The Raiders finished sixth during each of the first three rounds of the league tournament and are 3-15. Pickerington North is first at 18-0.
On Aug. 26 at Champions, the Raiders lost to DeSales 159-190 as Ellis led with a 41, followed by freshmen Zac Peters (45) and Reese Strohm (47).
The only other players on the team with previous varsity experience are seniors Tommy Coley and Evan Durkin.
“It’s a learning process,” coach Chip Warren said.
“The scores are not really that good, but I think they’re learning. They’re young and developing and the rules are complicated. They’re growing. It just doesn’t show up in the scores.”