Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings boys tennis squad ready for postseason

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Ryan Panley and Columbus Academy are preparing for the postseason, which begins with a Division II sectional May 13 and 15 on the Vikings' home courts. Panley is the top seed in singles.

Columbus Academy senior boys tennis player Arie Tuckerman still reflects on what could have been in 2019.

Tuckerman and classmate Jack Madison reached the Division II state doubles final but lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to then-senior teammates Suriya Sundaram and Rhian Seneviratne. 

Tuckerman and Madison hope to return to the state tournament later this spring and capture the title.

“We really hope to get to where we were two years ago and try to win it,” Tuckerman said. “We’re just excited to be back. It was unfortunate what happened last season. We think we can go all the way.” 

Tuckerman and Madison were denied the chance to compete last spring after the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The Vikings stayed busy in the offseason to prepare for this spring. 

“We played a lot in the offseason just preparing for this moment,” Tuckerman said. “We feel ready. There’s still some things that we have to work on, but in the next month, we’re just going to be on the grind.” 

Academy kicks off the postseason by competing in a home sectional May 13 and 15. Tuckerman and Madison are seeded first in doubles. 

“If they play to their potential, they have a shot,” coach Marc Wurtzman said. “They have to take one match, one day at a time and take things in stride. If they play the way they’re capable of playing, they can be a threat at least.” 

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 20 and 22 at Academy. 

The ultimate goal is to advance to state May 28 and 29 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

At sectional, Ryan Panley is seeded first in singles, with Saagar Arya and Vincent Sommer also competing. 

Jake Stouffer and Jaswanth Vandrasi are seeded third in doubles. 

Tuckerman and Madison have split time at first singles this season. They were 2-3 at first doubles, competing mainly against Division I opponents. 

Madison has committed to Colorado College, a Division III program in Colorado Springs. 

“I’m excited for Jack,” Wurtzman said. “He has a real passion for the game and he should be a good asset to any team. He’ll love it out in Colorado. I think he’ll do well out there.” 

In the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association team tournament, Academy played West Jefferson in a Division II district semifinal May 6, with the winner playing Bexley or Wellington in the district final on a date to be determined. 

The district champion advances to the state tournament May 30 at Reynoldsburg. 

The Vikings beat Wellington 3-2 on April 14 and lost to Bexley 3-2 on April 13 in MSL-Ohio Division matches. 

In 2019, Academy lost to Wellington 3-0 in a district final, with the Jaguars going on to win their second consecutive state team title. 

The Vikings were 12-5 overall before playing West Jefferson and 4-1 in the MSL-Ohio before closing league play May 7 against Worthington Christian. 

“From day one to now, we’re improving,” Wurtzman said. “The chemistry is really good. Our doubles (play) is strengthening. I do like where the team is headed. We’re headed on the upslope. We haven’t peaked yet. We’re definitely going in the right direction.” 

Evie Gee has been one of the top contributors for Academy, which is getting ready for its first postseason under new coach Morgan Fee Maldovan.

Girls lacrosse team 

preps for postseason 

The girls lacrosse team is preparing for its first postseason under coach Morgan Fee Maldovan. 

The Vikings were 3-7-1 overall and 1-4 in the Central Independent League before playing Columbus School for Girls on May 6. 

The Division II postseason begins May 15. 

“Always with a new coach, there’s going to be struggles and difficulties,” Fee Maldovan said. “We’re working to make those adjustments and obviously it’s not going to happen overnight. As a team, we’re getting there. The results just may not be on the scoreboard or in the scorebook, but we’re making some decent headway with the team.” 

Fee Maldovan said key contributors have included attackers Evie Gee and Ava Hurst, midfielders Sarah Klingerman and Claire Richardson and defender Lauren Golden. 

Two winter sports

coaches named 

Anthony Russo will succeed Craig Yakscoe as swimming and diving coach, and Ashar Harris will replace Heather Rakosik as girls basketball coach. 

Russo, 39, was a coach with the Ohio State Swim Club since 2011 before it disbanded in January, due mainly to the pandemic. He helped form Endeavor Performance and has coached current and former Academy swimmers. 

“I want to continue the tradition that’s always been there and then build on it,” Russo said. “The ultimate goal is to keep improving.”  

He is a 2000 graduate of Midpark High School in northeast Ohio and a 2004 graduate of Ashland University. He competed in swimming at both schools.  

Yakscoe guided the Vikings the past 16 seasons and 19 overall. Under Yakscoe, the boys team won 12 league titles and five district championships, and the girls won 10 league championships.  

Yakscoe will continue as the Vikings’ boys golf coach. 

A 2009 graduate of Africentric, Harris helped the Nubians win Division IV state titles in 2007 and 2009 and earn a runner-up finish in 2008. 

“That is something I plan on discussing (with my new team) after we get acclimated with each other,” Harris said of her past success. “I’ll give them a little background on myself and where I came from and where I’m trying to take the program.”  

She played collegiately at Morehead State for three seasons and at Lake Erie College for one.  

Harris, 30, was later an assistant coach at Africentric and New Albany, including guiding the Eagles’ junior varsity team.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank