Columbus Academy Roundup: Vikings boys tennis team advances to state tournament

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Columbus Academy's Arie Tuckerman returns a shot during his second-singles match in the OTCA Division II district final May 18 against visiting Wellington. The Vikings won 3-1 to advance to the state tournament.

The Columbus Academy boys tennis team earned its first Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division II state tournament berth since 2016 with a 3-1 win over Wellington in the district final May 18 at home. 

Academy improved to 16-5 and will play Cincinnati Indian Hill in a state semifinal May 30 at Reynoldsburg. The winner will play Pepper Pike Orange, Lexington, Lima Central Catholic, Ottawa-Glandorf or Toledo Ottawa Hills in the final, and the semifinal losers will meet in the third-place match.

“It’s so exciting to finally beat Wellington,” senior Arie Tuckerman said. “They beat up on us the last few years. It was great to get redemption. ... We’re going to have a huge week of practice and prepare for all the teams that are going to make state. We have two huge matches, the biggest matches of any of our lives.” 

The Vikings won two of three singles matches and a doubles match in the district final to secure the state berth. 

Tuckerman defeated Sadeq AlAli 6-1, 6-2 at second singles, Saager Arya beat Jack Kalnicki 6-0, 6-1 at third singles and Lucas Huang and Ryan Panley defeated Hussein AlAli and Sanjan Shanker 6-3, 6-3 at second doubles. 

“I started four years ago when Jack (Madison), Arie and Lucas were freshmen,” coach Marc Wurtzman said. “I’ve never been to the (state team tournament) for the boys. None of these players have been there. I’m extremely excited for this opportunity to be in the (state tournament).”

Wurtzman also coaches the school’s girls team. 

Griffin Biernat beat Madison 6-2, 6-3 at first singles for the Jaguars’ lone win. 

“They got us today,” said Wellington coach Tommy Haddow, whose team finished 10-5. “They played strong. I didn’t expect them to play that strong.” 

It was the Vikings’ second victory this season over the Jaguars, having also won 3-2 on April 14 in an MSL-Ohio Division match. 

Academy also was well represented in the Division II district tournament, which began May 20 at home and concluded May 22 at Reynoldsburg. 

Panley competed in singles, with Madison and Tuckerman and Jake Stouffer and Jaswanth Vandrasi playing doubles. 

The top two finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state May 28 and 29 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. 

Olivia Pierre-Louis and the Vikings wrapped up the district meet May 22 at Westerville North. The top four finishers in each event advanced to regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington.

Track teams 

begin postseason 

The boys and girls track and field teams began pursuit of Division II state berths by competing at district at Westerville North. 

The boys kicked off the district 2 meet May 18 by finishing third in the 3,200-meter relay (8 minutes, 36.18 seconds) as the top four finishers in each event advanced to regional May 27 and 29 at Lexington.  

The relay consisted of Vincent White, Peter Heermann, Luke Nester and Jake Huddleston. 

“We’re ready,” said Huddleston, who anchored the relay. “We’ve been prepping all season. This is what we’ve been training for.” 

The district meet concluded May 22. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 4 and 5 at Pickerington North. 

“This is the fun time of year,” Nester said. “This is when the season really starts.” 

Academy prepared for the postseason by competing in the MSL-Ohio meet May 11 and 14 at Whitehall. 

The boys team finished fourth (65) behind champion Grandview (176) as Nester placed first in the 3,200 (9:57.7) and second in the 1,600 (4:24.03). 

Manny Eribo, Zech Kim, Vaughn Armour and E.J. Jenkins were second in the 800 relay (1:36.68), Eribo was third in the 200 (23.47) and long jump (18 feet, 11 3/4 inches) and Sam Huyghe was third in the 400 (43.35). 

The girls team finished fifth (68) behind champion Buckeye Valley (165.33) as Regan Cornelius won the 3,200 (11:29.88). 

Olivia Pierre-Louis (5-0) and Allison Klinefelter (4-10) finished second and third, respectively, in the high jump. 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank