Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Girls tennis team excited for postseason
A season full of positives for Gahanna Lincoln sophomore girls tennis player Frankie Nuss continued when she found out she and junior Caroline Mattox had earned the third seed in doubles for a Division I sectional tournament.
The sectional will be held Thursday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 10, at Hilliard Davidson.
“I was very happy,” Nuss said. “I was at dinner with my grandparents and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, yay.’ ”
Nuss has spent most of the season at first singles and was 11-7 after the Lions' 3-2 loss to Dublin Jerome on Sept. 29.
Mattox is teaming with Nuss after going 13-1 at third singles.
Mattox and Nuss have a first-round bye at sectional and will play Davidson’s Elyse Holdgreve and Abby Miksza or Dublin Coffman’s Geetha Anne and Anna Krueger in a second-round match.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 15 and 17 at Reynoldsburg.
Last season at sectional, Nuss lost to Westerville Central’s Levi Burks 6-4, 6-4 in a second-round match in singles and Mattox teamed with 2020 graduate Madi Herrmann to lose to Central’s Madison Lane and Vivian Baker 6-3, 6-4 in a doubles quarterfinal.
Mattox and Nuss have teamed up in a dual match as well as in the Davidson Doubles Tournament on Sept. 19 to help prepare them for the postseason.
“Personally I like playing with Frankie,” Mattox said. “We’re very quick in getting to balls and especially with our communication. One of our bigger strengths is that my backhand is stronger than Frankie’s, but she’s more consistent in general so it balances out with the harder shots and with consistency.
“It’s easy for me to get people hyped up and it’s easy for me to hype myself up on the court. I’m the team’s personal cheerleader, so hyping Frankie up is one of my strengths.”
The other doubles team at district will be junior Sophie Graham and sophomore Alana Amer. They also have a first-round bye and will play Coffman’s Rhia Singhal and Emily Yoshino or Thomas Worthington’s Kayla Lu and Gabby Decker in the second round.
Junior Aubrey Thomas, who played second singles most of the regular season, opens sectional singles competition with a first-round match against Central’s Lauren Muniu.
Also playing singles are sophomore Natalie Garcia, who will open with a first-round match against Delaware’s Grace Martin, and senior Emily Innis, who will play Delaware’s Lily Top in a play-in match.
Gahanna was 14-9 overall before facing Pickerington Central on Oct. 1 and finished 3-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
Coach Chris Schwinnen said having Mattox and Nuss play doubles together is the Lions' best chance to reach district from the Davidson sectional.
“It’s something to try this year and if it doesn’t work out, Frankie can always go singles the next two years," Schwinnen said. "They’re really excited about it.”
Girls soccer team
tries to stay upbeat
Figuring out how to piece together what he believes is a talented roster has been the puzzle girls soccer coach Nick Eley has been trying to solve this fall.
The Lions were 4-7 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio before facing Westerville Central on Oct. 1 and Grove City on Oct. 6. They close the league schedule Tuesday, Oct. 13, at home against Pickerington North.
The Division I district tournament drawing is Sunday, Oct. 11.
“Obviously with the exception of Coffman (which Gahanna lost to 9-0 on Sept. 24) we’ve been competitive,” Eley said. “We have a really good group of girls. It’s just trying to mesh that group into one team. We’re staying competitive, morale is getting up higher again, and we’ll just go from there.”
Senior midfielder Alexei Whittaker, who missed much of last season with an injury, has been among the Lions’ leading scorers along with senior forward Natalie Stewart and junior forward Taylor Marcum.
Eley also has been pleased with the leadership of senior forward Alyssa Redmond.
“We’re trying to keep it all together,” Eley said.
After falling to Westerville Central 43-0 on Sept. 18, the football team bounced back to beat Grove City 41-0 on Sept. 25.
The Lions were 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio heading into their game Oct. 2 at Pickerington North. The Panthers were 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the league heading into that game.
Gahanna, which made the playoffs in four of coach Bruce Ward’s first five seasons before going 3-7 last fall, is preparing for the playoffs. Every team was eligible for the postseason this fall, and the Lions are among the 16 teams in Division I, Region 3.
Gahanna competed in Weeks 4 and 5 without senior Ricky Alli and sophomore Jaden Yates, starting linebackers who were out with injury.
Against Grove City, sophomore linebacker Tyree Johnson had four tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss, senior end Shawn Ugbana and junior defensive back Alipate Tuitavuki both had three tackles and one tackle for loss and junior linebacker Jabez Hill had three tackles.
Senior end Mykohl Martin also has been a leader defensively, according to Ward.
“Shawn Ugbana has had a good year so far,” Ward said. “He made a game-winning tackle against New Albany (in a 42-41 overtime win Sept. 11). He’s a tennis player who’s always been on the football team, but he’s never done much and has had a minor role until this year. But he’s done well, him and Mykohl. (Martin) plays football, hockey and lacrosse as a 300-pounder. He’s a freak of nature.”