Notebook: Olentangy Liberty Patriots’ Vishnu Bodavula battles way to state tennis tournament

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Liberty senior Vishnu Bodavula competed in the Division I state tournament May 28 and 29 and Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. At district, he lost 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 in the final to Gahanna’s Brandon Carpico.

With his second Division I state boys tennis tournament berth already wrapped up, Olentangy Liberty senior Vishnu Bodavula seized on a pair of opportunities to grow his game.

Bodavula, who competed at state May 28 and 29 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, got a pair of chances to avenge prior losses with state seeding on the line May 22 at Reynoldsburg.

In his district semifinal against St. Charles’ Reece Yakubov, Bodavula avenged a 6-1, 6-2 setback April 16 by dominating Yakubov 6-2, 6-2 to advance to the district championship match.

He then had a shot at avenging another earlier loss when he faced Gahanna’s Brandon Carpico but fell just short 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 after losing 6-1, 6-3 to Carpico on May 15 in a sectional semifinal at Hilliard Bradley.

“I just kind of focused on myself and things kind of happened for me,” Bodavula said. “(Making state) is a huge accomplishment for me. The entire season has been tough. I’ve had a back injury and haven’t been playing my best tennis, but I’m starting to play a little better every day and it’s good that I’m kind of peaking now.” 

Bodavula, who teamed with 2020 graduate Marcelo Aguilar to reach the 2019 state tournament in doubles, is the first singles player for Liberty to advance to state since Arren Carter reached a quarterfinal in 2010.

“I whole-heartedly believe in Vishnu as a player and as a person really,” coach Adrian Tolentino said. “I’m absolutely confident in him. He’s been playing pretty well.” 

Bodavula opened district May 20 by beating Olentangy sophomore Vedant Dave 6-0, 6-0 and then edged Orange junior Parth Patel 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 in a quarterfinal.

“I lost a tight first set (to Patel) and I just wanted it and had to battle it out,” Bodavula said. “You face a lot of hardships on the court and it’s hot and I had to kind of stay in it. He played a lot better match than he did (against me) during the (regular) season and made it a lot tougher.

“I miss playing doubles with Marcelo. We had a blast together and, honestly, it’s just completely different. Even in my sophomore year I played a lot of singles and we ended up teaming up together in doubles. Overall my experience helped me out (at district).”

•The Orange boys tennis team fell short of advancing anyone to the Division I state tournament, but the Pioneers went 5-0 to win the OCC-Central for their first league championship since winning back-to-back OCC-Buckeye titles in 2017-18.

In a sectional at Reynoldsburg that ended May 15, junior Parth Patel defeated freshman teammate Kallan Arledge 6-2, 6-2 in the singles final, while sophomore Nick Clifford and freshman Zach Haar defeated teammates sophomore Austin Jackson and freshman Eric Tang 7-5, 6-2 in the consolation final.

Both singles players went 1-1 at district May 20 at Reynoldsburg, and the doubles teams both lost their openers.

“We only had two guys that had played before on varsity on a regular basis,” said eighth-year coach Matt Rutherford, whose team finished 9-3 overall. “There was a lot of opportunity to improve, and they improved drastically. It wasn’t just in their skills but also their maturity and mental toughness improved.”

Senior Pranav Krishnan finished the regular season 11-0, but went 1-1 in singles at sectional. 

—Scott Hennen

Olentangy boys tennis coach Jeff Luxenburger’s nine-year tenure ended on a high note with all seven players competing in the Division I district tournament May 20 and 22 at Reynoldsburg, although none advanced to state.

Senior singles player Sam Routzahn went 1-1 and earned the team’s only victory. The majority of the lineup is eligible to return in juniors Trevor Gerald and Dakshin Pisini, sophomores Vedant Dave and Mitch MacDowell and freshman Sujan Sriram.

Also expected back are junior Sammy Thotapalli and sophomores Pranav Nadakumar and Kashiv Sriram, who did not compete in the postseason.

“I’ve never been more proud,” said Luxenburger, who also coached the girls team for 10 seasons and is moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a teaching job. “We don’t necessarily have that juggernaut player, yet our depth was always our strength. We have so many guys who are at a similar high level and they pushed each other all year to get better.

“They always challenged each other and competed. Our practices were the most competitive and most focused I’ve ever had. That showed in our success.”

Olentangy went 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal, second to Dublin Jerome (5-0).

—Dave Purpura

•The Berlin boys tennis team showed continued improvement in coach Richard Hunt’s first season.

The Bears finished 12-5 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.

Berlin also had its first district qualifiers in sophomore singles player Josh McKnight and the doubles team of senior Akhil Demarla and junior Kathir Maarikarthykeyan. 

McKnight won a sectional title by defeating Reynoldsburg’s Jaden Coley 6-1, 7-6 (3) on May 15 at Reynoldsburg. Demarla and Maarikarthykeyan placed third in doubles.

At district May 20 and 22 at Reynoldsburg, McKnight lost his opener to Pickerington North’s Pavan Uppu 6-1, 6-4 and Demarla and Maarikarthykeyan fell 6-3, 6-1 to Jerome’s Kevin Liu and Eli Wiblin in their first match.

“Taking over the team, I didn’t know what to expect but I thought we showed a lot of heart on the court, and we kept improving,” Hunt said. “Our losses were to the top teams in the area, and we did well against the others.”

Sophomore Jayce Boyce and freshman Logan Van Horne played singles in the postseason, and senior Brody Edgson and junior Aaron Dhillon comprised the other doubles team.

—Scott Hennen

•The fourth-seeded Liberty girls lacrosse team lost 9-8 to second-seeded New Albany on May 24 in a Division I, Region 1 semifinal to finish 12-8. 

In a 17-5 victory over seventh-seeded Brunswick on May 20 in the second round, sophomore attacker Lexi Bird scored five goals, sophomore midfielder Ryen Reusser scored four and sophomore midfielder Makenna Harrington added three. 

“Every single one of our losses was to teams (ranked) in the top 10 (in the state), and five of them we lost by less than three goals," coach Tim Bosco said. "The sophomores aren’t playing like sophomores. They’re a lot more mature.” 

Seniors Kylee Arvidson, Kelsey Eckhert and Ryann Joseph were among the leaders on a defense that also included junior Ava Guagenti. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Lilianna Aguirre (goalie), Lauren Belt (defender), Riley Cahill (defender), Meghan Haddow (midfielder), Ellie Hoying (midfielder), Peyton Masters (attacker), Katelyn McDonnell (midfielder), Maci Picolo (defender), Mallory Rivard (attacker), Sophie Shear (defender), Gio Spallino (attacker) and Sid Struck (defender) and freshmen Alayna Bogner (goalie) and Isabelle Pohmer (midfielder). 

“Obviously we’ve had some ups and downs this year, but they’ve played the best teams and the best offensive players and I think they’ve seen everything," Bosco said. 

—Jarrod Ulrey

Orange's Ellie Beck and Emma-Cait Cogan (right) celebrate Beck's goal earlier this season against Berlin. Beck finished with 20 goals and eight assists, and Cogan had 16 goals and four assists.

•The 11th-seeded Orange girls lacrosse team finished 3-13, losing 15-8 to ninth-seeded Westerville South on May 17 in the opening round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament, but almost every player is expected to return.

“We had 36 on our team and 32 of them are expected to be coming back,” first-year coach Mike Harrington said. “Our team has a lot of midfielders that we switched in and out throughout the year so we’re deep there.”

Sophomore attacker Jordan Sullivan led with 35 goals and 10 assists, followed by junior midfielders Ellie Beck (20 goals, 8 assists) and Emma-Cait Cogan (16 goals, 4 assists).

Senior attacker Jenna Durst had 14 goals and two assists, and sophomore midfielder Kathryn Beckley had eight goals and eight assists. Sophomore midfielder Sophia Meek had 11 goals and one assist, and senior attacker Raneem Ali had eight goals and three assists.

Sophomore midfielder Dori Moses had 10 goals, and senior goalie Abigail Struntz had 141 saves.

—Scott Hennen

•The fourth-seeded Berlin boys lacrosse team won only one game during its inaugural 2019 season but finished 12-8 after losing to top-seeded DeSales 9-4 on May 24 in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal.

Junior attacker/midfielder Gavin Angell (first-team all-region) led the Bears with 67 goals and 23 assists, and senior goalie Sam Warner (second-team all-region) had 208 saves.

Junior midfielder Zack Zielinski had 28 goals and four assists, and junior attacker Drew Haver (honorable mention all-region) had 21 goals and six assists. Junior attacker Zach Rainey had 15 goals and one assist, and junior Connor Gavin added six goals and five assists.

Senior midfielder Aadin Cain, sophomore attacker/midfielder Drew Mark and sophomore midfielder Zachary Patton all scored five goals. Senior defender Max Garrabrant was honorable mention all-region.

—Scott Hennen

•Senior Brynn Kibler (P/2B) batted .442 and scored 22 runs to lead the Olentangy softball team, which went 7-18 and lost 9-6 at 14th-seeded Westerville South in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 12.

Junior Jaelyn Peterson (P) batted .414 with three home runs, 22 RBI and seven stolen bases. Freshman Caleigh Peterson (C) had a .342 average, and both will be among the expected leaders next year along with juniors Mackenzie Condon (3B/OF) and Jaycee Feeney (INF/OF) and sophomore Gabriella Ross (3B/C).

“We had several players learning new positions and we just didn’t get the job done defensively,” coach Alan Tharp said. “Defense is normally our strength and we’ll be working hard to develop players for certain positions. Our pitching struggled a bit, but we’ll rebound next season.”

—Dave Purpura

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BERLIN BOYS LACROSSE

Record: 12-8 overall

OCC-Cardinal standings: Dublin Jerome (5-0), Thomas Worthington (4-1), Olentangy (3-2), Berlin (2-3), Hilliard Darby (1-4), Marysville (0-5)

Seniors lost: Aadin Cain, Elijah Emery, Connor Forlenzo, Max Garrabrant and Sam Warner

Key returnees: Gavin Angell, Connor Gavin, Drew Haver, Drew Mark, Zachary Patton, Zach Rainey and Zack Zielinski

Postseason: Defeated Licking Valley 12-5; def. Bellbrook 13-4; lost to to DeSales 9-4 in Division II, Region 7 semifinal

LIBERTY GIRLS LACROSSE 

Record: 12-8 overall

OCC-Central standings: Upper Arlington (5-0), Dublin Coffman (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Hilliard Davidson (2-3), Orange (1-4), Hilliard Bradley (0-5)  

Seniors lost: Alissa Alexander, Kylee Arvidson, Kelsey Eckhert, Amira El Masri, Ryann Joseph and Quin McGee 

Key returnees: Lilianna Aguirre, Lexi Bird, Ava Guagenti, Meghan Haddow, Makenna Harrington and Ryen Reusser 

Postseason: Def. Sylvania Northview 20-1; def. Brunswick 17-5; lost to New Albany 9-8 in Division I, Region 1 semifinal

ORANGE GIRLS LACROSSE

Record: 3-13 overall

Seniors lost: Raneem Ali, Jenna Durst, Gabriella McAninch and Abigail Struntz 

Key returnees: Ellie Beck, Kathryn Beckley, Emma-Cait Cogan, Jordan Sullivan, Aubrey Timmons and Ava Thompson

Postseason: Lost to Westerville South 15-8 in first round of Division I, Region 1 tournament

OLENTANGY SOFTBALL

Record: 7-18 overall

OCC-Cardinal standings: Marysville (9-1), Darby (7-3), Berlin (6-3), Thomas (3-7), Jerome and Olentangy (2-8)

Seniors lost: Olivia Davidson, Brynn Kibler, Charlotte Pollock and Emily Prosser

Key returnees: Mackenzie Condon, Jaycee Feeney, Caleigh Peterson, Jaelyn Peterson and Gabriella Ross

Postseason: Lost to Westerville South 9-6 in first round of Division I district tournament

BERLIN BOYS TENNIS

Record: 12-5 overall

OCC-Cardinal standings: Jerome (5-0), Olentangy (4-1), Berlin (3-2), Darby (2-3), Thomas (1-4), Marysville (0-5)

Seniors lost: Akhil Demarla and Brody Edgson

Key returnees: Jayce Boyce, Aaron Dhillon, Josh McKnight, Kathir Maarikarthykeyan and Logan Van Horne

OLENTANGY BOYS TENNIS 

Record: 11-3 overall

Seniors lost: Sam Routzahn and Roshan Sriram

Key returnees: Vedant Dave, Trevor Gerald, Mitch MacDowell, Dakshin Pisini and Sujan Sriram

ORANGE BOYS TENNIS

Record: 9-3 overall

OCC-Central standings: Orange (5-0), UA (4-1), Liberty (3-2), Coffman (2-3), Bradley (1-4), Davidson (0-5)

Seniors lost: Jake Ethridge and Pranav Krishnan

Key returnees: Kallan Arledge, Nick Clifford, Zach Haar, Austin Jackson, Eric Tang and Parth Patel