Having back-to-back large senior classes has opened up opportunities inside the Gahanna Lincoln High School girls tennis team’s lineup.
Senior Rachel Becker and junior Maddie Herrmann are the only returning players who were regular contributors last season when the Lions went 9-11 overall and tied Grove City and Lancaster for third (2-3) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind champion Pickerington Central (5-0).
A strong freshman class will be contributing along with some players who saw action mostly as junior varsity players or occasional varsity competitors last fall.
“I’ve got a pretty solid five or six players,” 10th-year coach Chris Schwinnen said. “I knew from last year’s junior high team that we had some freshmen that were pretty good players. We’re going to be a young team. Those seniors we lost are going to be difficult to replace. I’ve had two consecutive seasons where we lost a lot of seniors.”
Freshman Aubrey Thomas was a candidate to start at first singles when the Lions opened Aug. 14 at Marysville. They begin league play Aug. 23 at Reynoldsburg.
Freshman Caroline Mattox could see time at third singles or doubles, and classmate Sophie Graham is another who could contribute.
Seniors Grace Kempf, Abby Slates and Hannah Secrist have been in the program the past three seasons and should see more time this fall.
Last season, 2018 graduates Natalie Chen and Reegan Pomponio teamed up to reach the Division I district tournament in doubles. They led a nine-member senior class that also included Ankita Satish and Sara McCloud, who reached a doubles quarterfinal at sectional.
“We want to focus on improving our record but also focus on learning the game,” Schwinnen said. “Maddie is coming back with two years of varsity experience. I’ve got a great group of girls and it will be a fun season regardless of wins and losses.”
Boys golfers aiming for another league title
With all five of its players shooting 80 or better, the boys golf team carded a 300 to finish first in the first round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 7 at Darby Creek.
Senior Drew Bailey led with a 71 to earn medalist honors and set the Lions on the right path after they won their first league championship a season ago.
Bailey averaged 79.5 to make first-team all-league, and senior Michael Hahn (84.0), junior Dylan Errington (83.3) and sophomore Mitchell Soma (82.5) all were honorable mention all-league.
Senior Sam Moore and sophomore Max Hahn are others on the team.
The second round of the four-round league tournament was Aug. 13 at Apple Valley.
“We look at stats but don’t focus on them,” 10th-year coach Judy Ratzenberger said. “They give us info so that we can focus on organizing intentional practices on the processes needed to improve. For example, if stats indicate we work on short game, approach shots, around the green and putting, accuracy off the tee, these are the areas we focus on. These things will make us better. After winning the OCC-Ohio for the first time … the players have taken their commitment to another level.”
The Lions went 17-3 in the OCC-Ohio last season. Jake Simone, a 2018 graduate, averaged 78 and also made first-team all-league.
“They work every day on their game,” Ratzenberger said. “This is getting them ready for the competition ahead. Our hope is to represent the best in us. We as coaches and players have goals, but we’re trying to not let our expectations get in the way of our successes.”
New coach optimistic about girls golf team
New girls golf coach Chase Huddle already has an understanding of what senior Kayla Davis can provide for his team this fall.
A 2003 Marion Harding graduate who also previously coached the boys and girls teams at his alma mater, Huddle took over in the offseason after Patty McQuirt led the Lions for 12 years.
Huddle also was the junior varsity coach at perennial power Dublin Jerome for one season.
“I was coaching wrestling (as an assistant) last winter at Gahanna and got to talking to (athletics director) Dustin (Cullen) and he told me they were looking for a girls golf coach,” Huddle said. “I’m really looking forward to this year.”
The Lions opened with a fifth-place finish (367) in the Gahanna Invitational on Aug. 6 at Jefferson behind champion New Albany (295).
On Aug. 8 at Cooks Creek, Gahanna opened OCC-Ohio action by shooting a 344 to finish second behind Pickerington North (342). The second of four rounds was held Aug. 15 at Mentel Memorial.
The Lions went 18-2 in the league last season to tie North for the title.
Davis was co-medalist in the Division I district tournament with a 71 and placed 20th (153) at state.
Also returning are junior Alexis Buck and sophomore Elise Wenz.
Senior Bronte Johnson, junior Alexis Harris and freshman Molly Cepek are others on the team.
Huddle is a teacher at Columbus South.
“We have great numbers,” he said. “We have a really good senior class led by Kayla Davis, who is a phenomenal golfer and a phenomenal young lady. We’ve got a bunch of girls that have a common idea of what it takes to be successful at golf. Last year’s success had a lot to do with that.”
Aug. 4 – Thomas Worthington Preview at Delaware Golf Club
Aug. 6 – Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 7 – OCC-Ohio at Darby Creek
Aug. 9 – Worthington Christian Invitational at York
Aug. 10 – Mount Vernon Invitational at Chapel Hill
Aug. 11 – Hilliard Davidson at Golf Club of Dublin
Aug. 13 – OCC-Ohio at Apple Valley
Aug. 15 – Columbus Academy at Little Turtle
Aug. 21 – Worthington Christian at Little Turtle
Aug. 25 – Reynoldsburg at Blacklick Woods
Aug. 28 – OCC-Ohio at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 8 – Hickory Hills Invitational
Sept. 12 – OCC-Ohio at Turnberry
Sept. 15 – Rodney Butt Classic at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 20 – Worthington Kilbourne at Little Turtle
Sept. 22 – Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 24 – OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders
Sept. 25 – Reynoldsburg at Little Turtle
Sept. 27 – Granville at Little Turtle
Sept. 29 – Pickerington Central Fall Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 6 – Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson
Aug. 8 – OCC-Ohio at Cooks Creek
Aug. 9 – Watkins Memorial Invitational at Cumberland Trail
Aug. 10 – Panther Invitational at Turnberry
Aug. 15 – OCC-Ohio at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 18 – Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines
Aug. 20 – Centerville Invitational at Yankee Trace
Aug. 23 – Olentangy Liberty at Scioto Reserve
Aug. 25 – New Albany Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
Aug. 27 – Delaware and Worthington Kilbourne at Worthington Hills
Aug. 29 – OCC-Ohio at Westchester
Sept. 1 – Lima Central Catholic Invitational at Lost Creek
Sept. 5 – Lancaster and Olentangy Liberty at Jefferson
Sept. 8 – Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek
Sept. 10 – Canal Winchester and Hilliard Darby at Kyber Run
Sept. 12 – OCC-Ohio at Royal American
Sept. 18 – Canal Winchester at Kyber Run
Sept. 20 – Upper Arlington Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 24 – Delaware and Olentangy Orange at Blackhawk
Sept. 25 – Granville, Pickerington Central and Worthington Kilbourne at Kyber Run
Oct. 6 – Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
Aug. 14 – at Marysville
Aug. 16 – vs. New Albany
Aug. 21 – at Westerville Central
*Aug. 23 – at Reynoldsburg
*Aug. 28 – vs. Pickerington North
Aug. 29 – at Bexley
*Aug. 30 – at Grove City
*Sept. 4 – at Lancaster
*Sept. 6 – vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 10 – at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 12 – vs. Granville
Sept. 13 – at Dublin Scioto
Sept. 15 – Reynoldsburg Doubles Tournament
Sept. 19 – at Big Walnut
Sept. 20 – at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 22 – Hilliard Davidson Tournament
Sept. 25 – vs. Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 26 – at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 27 – vs. Watkins Memorial
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 17 – At Canal Winchester
Aug. 21 – Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 17 – At Canal Winchester
Aug. 21 – Home vs. Westerville South