Reece Yakubov's agenda has changed significantly.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has put a damper on a summer usually filled with tennis and golf tournaments, but the St. Charles junior is doing his best to stay busy.

When Gov. Mike DeWine announced April 20 that school buildings would remain closed for the remainder of the school year and the OHSAA canceled the spring sports season later that day, Yakubov lost his chance to qualify for a third consecutive Division I state tennis tournament. As a result, the Upper Arlington resident is focusing on what he can control and preparing for his senior season with the St. Charles golf and tennis programs.

"Pretty much everything has been canceled for tennis and a lot of golf events are off," Yakubov said. "I have been working on my own.

"We know a couple of families that have private (tennis) courts, so I try to stay in shape that way. The golf courses are open so I have been playing with my brothers (Connor, a 2015 St. Charles graduate, and Evan, a 2017 St. Charles graduate). Scioto (Country Club) is about two minutes from our home and Brookside (Golf and Country Club) is pretty close, so that has helped a lot."

In tennis, Yakubov qualified for state in his first two seasons. Last spring as a sophomore, he went 1-1 in singles at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, defeating Solon's Aaron Lee 6-0, 6-1 before losing to Springboro's Sainandan Dore 6-3, 6-3 in a quarterfinal.

That season, Yakubov finished 16-3 and won sectional and district championships, defeating Thomas Worthington's Kai Britz in both title matches.

As a freshman, Yakubov teamed with 2018 graduate Jack Dabek to finish runner-up at state in doubles, losing to New Albany's Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the final.

"It all starts from within for Reece," Cardinals tennis coach Max Quinton said. "He has the ability to learn and he takes instruction well. His biggest asset is that he has a great heart, and he is a tremendous competitor.

"Reece is getting bigger and getting more confident. He's still working on his game, especially his short game. He can play back all day, but people work to bring him in (to the net). He has a good game going to the net, but he's not as much in his comfort zone. Once he realizes that he has those shots and consistently makes them, he'll really go to the next level."

In golf, Yakubov competed in the Division I state tournament at Ohio State's Scarlet Course as a sophomore in 2018. Last fall, he shot a 71 in the district tournament at Apple Valley and failed to advance to state.

He said golf and tennis complement each other well.

"One of the most difficult things for me in both sports is the mental aspect," Yakubov said. "Golf has taught me to play high-percentage shots and limit mistakes, and I try to do that in tennis as well.

"(In both sports) you're kind of out there on an island, and it's more of a marathon than a sprint. One hole in golf isn't going to change the whole round, and one point in tennis won't determine the outcome, either."

Quinton said remaining focused on the court -- or on the course -- is the key to success.

"Concentration is everything," Quinton said. "If you are able to block everything out and concentrate, you'll make shots whether in golf or tennis. It just has to become about you and the ball."

Yakubov, who has yet to make a college decision, loves both sports but likes the pace and excitement tennis provides.

"I'm leaning toward (playing) tennis (in college), but I'm not ready to take anything out of the picture," said Yakubov, who has a 4.3 GPA and plans to major in business or pre-med. "For me, personally, tennis is a little more high energy and I can be more active."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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