Girls Tennis: Dani Schoenly rises to occasion as Olentangy Liberty's leader

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Liberty senior Dani Schoenly, an Ohio State recruit, is playing first singles for the Patriots after winning Division I state titles in doubles in 2017 and 2018.

With one parent coaching softball and the other coaching tennis, it made sense for Olentangy Liberty senior Dani Schoenly to gravitate toward both sports growing up.

The rare opportunities she's had to play doubles in tennis the past few years are something she views as a combination of the things she loves about both sports.

"It's different with softball being a team sport, but I think that's why I like doubles so much," Schoenly said. "Both of the sports complement each other. They definitely help each other with the hand-eye coordination in both sports."

Schoenly, who is at first singles for the Patriots girls tennis team after playing second singles each of her first three seasons, has shined nearly every chance she's had to play doubles over the years.

She got a rare regular-season opportunity to play doubles Sept. 14, teaming with sophomore Kylie Wilson to lose to Columbus Academy's Sydni Ratliff and Lauren Motta 6-2, 6-4 at first doubles.

Schoenly joined senior Maddie Atway to win back-to-back Division I state doubles championships in 2017 and 2018.

Last fall, Atway and Schoenly played singles during the postseason, with both losing in state quarterfinals.

Atway elected not to play this fall after being the Patriots' first-singles player the last three years, but both she and Schoenly have committed to play for Ohio State.

Ratliff is another member of the Buckeyes' 2021 recruiting class.

"(Schoenly's) looked pretty solid so far," coach Will Thieman said. "She's playing better as the season has gone along. When you play (first singles) you get everybody's best player and everybody usually has at least one good player."

Liberty lost 5-0 to Academy and also fell to Dublin Jerome 3-2 on Sept. 17, dropping its record to 7-6 overall before facing Olentangy on Sept. 22.

The Patriots finished third (3-2) in the OCC-Central Division behind Upper Arlington (5-0) and Dublin Coffman (4-1).

Schoenly was 11-2 in singles after beating Jerome's Ella Oleson 6-1, 6-2 on Sept. 17.

The postseason drawing is Sunday, Sept. 27, with sectional play set for Oct. 8 and 10.

"(Playing first singles) has definitely been a different challenge, but it's been good to get some matches in and have to deal with the pressure," Schoenly said. "This year has been really fun. The girls and I are all super close and we all have a really good culture. We have a lot of fun and all try hard and are all working hard to get better."

Having the 2020 softball season canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic was a tough blow to Schoenly and her family.

Schoenly hit .404 with two home runs and 17 RBI as a sophomore center fielder, and she was expected to play a key role again last spring.

Her mother, Kelly Kovach Schoenly, has been Ohio State's softball coach since 2013 and has a career record of 422-295-2 that also includes a six-year stint at Miami University.

Before that, she was an assistant coach from 1998-2006 at Penn State, where she met Dani's father, Doug Schoenly. He played tennis for the Nittany Lions and has been teaching that sport for nearly two decades.

The family moved to central Ohio when Dani was in fourth grade.

"When I was younger, I kind of played both sports competitively and waited to see which one I loved more," she said. "After my freshman year I started becoming more serious about tennis. Both of my parents coach tennis and softball, so naturally they wanted me to play their sports."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

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