Reynoldsburg Roundup: Tennis team enjoying breakthrough season

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Kareen Meoko and the Reynoldsburg girls tennis team are preparing for a Division I sectional tournament that will be held Thursday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 10, on the Raiders' home courts. Reynoldsburg is enjoying a breakthrough season, standing at 15-7 as of last week.

In the Reynoldsburg girls tennis team’s OCC-Ohio Division finale last season, it beat Grove City 3-2 to earn its first league victory since 2015.

The improvement the Raiders showed a year ago has been followed by a huge leap this fall.

In addition to finishing third (3-2) in the OCC-Buckeye behind Pickerington Central (5-0) and Lancaster (4-1) after the OCC’s latest realignment, the Raiders were 15-7 overall after play Oct. 1.

Reynoldsburg, which won just six matches last year, also has one singles player and one doubles team seeded for a Division I sectional that will be held Thursday, Oct. 8, and Saturday, Oct. 10, on its home courts.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 15 and 17 at Reynoldsburg.

“We have a better team and we’re a lot more versatile as players,” sophomore Olivia Cox said. “We can do a lot more this year.”

Cox’s growth has been one of the reasons for the Raiders’ increased success.

She has spent most of the season at first singles, with freshman Kareen Meoko mostly at second singles but also seeing some action at first singles.

Both players picked up their 17th victories while competing in singles during Reynoldsburg’s 4-1 victory over Newark on Sept. 26.

Cox opens sectional competition against Logan’s Malory Abram in the second round. If she wins her first two matches, she likely will face Olentangy Liberty’s Dani Schoenly, a two-time state doubles champion who competed at state in singles last season, in a quarterfinal.

Meoko opens against Northland’s Bless Florence Annor or Logan’s Selena Zheng in the second round. Her toughest competition in qualifying for district also could come in the quarterfinal round, where she could face New Albany’s Madison Spiess.

In a 4-1 loss to New Albany on Sept. 25, Meoko lost 7-5, 7-5 at first singles to Paige Cornelius, who is the second seed for the sectional. Cox beat Spiess 6-3, 6-2 at second singles.

“We’ve all been doing really well and trying to focus on one match at a time and practicing,” Meoko said. “In the first few matches, I was trying to get used to things and the more matches we’ve played, the more I’m getting used to it. I’m more comfortable on the court now and more confident.”

Also playing singles is sophomore Lorelei Dunlap, who faces Olentangy’s Ava Estep in a first-round sectional match.

In doubles, sophomore Rowan Toole and freshman Isabella Boskovska are seeded third and will face Northland’s Karmela Reed and Nia Waugh or Independence’s Kiyah McCaskill and Nakyia Revels in a second-round match.

The other doubles entrant features seniors Emili Pavlovska and Natasha Madagi. They open against Logan’s Madachi Roberts and Lily Sauer.

“We’re doing pretty well,” coach Les Somogyi said. “Cox and Meoko are awesome and even when they’ve lost, they’ve lost by a hair. My No. 1 doubles team (of Toole and Boskovska) is also awesome. They’re really, really prepared and I’m very proud of them because they’re a true offensive doubles team.”

Boys soccer

team growing

The boys soccer team will learn its Division I district tournament drawing Sunday, Oct. 11, with the postseason to begin Oct. 19.

The Raiders were 4-5-2 overall and 1-0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before facing Lancaster on Oct. 1. They also played Central Crossing on Oct. 6 in a league contest.

Reynoldsburg closes the OCC-Buckeye schedule Tuesday, Oct. 13, at home against Pickerington Central.

“We’re just inexperienced this year, but that’s no excuse,” coach Tony Labudovski said. “We’ve just got to do better. Our goal is always to win the OCC and that’s our main focus right now, and to prepare for the playoffs.”

Senior goalie Brady Frydl, who is in his third season as the team’s starter, had 12 saves in a 4-0 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 24. He posted shutouts in a 3-0 victory over Westland on Sept. 1 and in a 1-0 win over Newark on Sept. 22.

Seniors John Hayes, Monty Rollins and Devin Vongsavath and freshman Landon Miars have played key roles on defense.

“We’re a little inexperienced, but we’re making the most of it,” Frydl said. “We lost a lot of seniors last year. I feel like I could do a little bit better, but all I can do is organize the back line. Last year, the back line was senior-led so my job is to organize them because I can see the whole field.”

Frydl, who is planning to attend Ohio University and is considering studying sports broadcasting but won’t play collegiately because the school doesn’t sponsor the sport, has been a player Labudovski has been leaning on after losing 14 players to graduation.

“Brady is keeping us in a lot of games,” Labudovski said. “We’re just not scoring as much and we’re making a lot of mental mistakes, but every game we’re getting better and better.”

Golfers begin

postseason play

Despite being the OCC-Buckeye runner-up, the boys golf team was seeded just 27th of 42 teams in the Division I postseason.

The Raiders competed in a sectional Oct. 6 at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 13, at Apple Valley.

At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to state Oct. 23 and 24 on Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

Senior Jamison Boykins was an individual district qualifier last season.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek