Reynoldsburg Roundup: Raiders boys tennis team makes smooth transition back

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Sophomore Jaden Coley is playing first singles for the Reynoldsburg boys tennis team, which is in its second season under coach Brett Stewart. The Raiders return to action April 8 at New Albany.

The familiarity the members of the Reynoldsburg boys tennis team previously had with one another made for a smooth transition back into competition this spring. 

Brett Stewart was in his first season as the Raiders’ coach in 2019 when they went 11-9 to post their first winning record since 2014.

Although last season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Stewart worked with all of this year’s key players when he was the junior high coach. 

“We have a very small team, but all of these boys I’ve had since they were in seventh grade when I coached over at the junior high, so I know them well and they know me well,” Stewart said. “It’s good. Being a smaller team, we’re not super deep. … My singles (positions) are all pretty set.” 

Sophomore Jaden Coley, who likely would have been among the team’s top players last spring, is a year-round competitor who will play first singles. 

Junior James Knorr is at second singles, with senior Brian McClain at third singles. In the 2019 Division I sectional, Knorr lost in the first round in singles and McClain lost in the second round in doubles with 2019 graduate Chase Cotner. 

Senior Dane Myers is a returnee from 2019 who will compete at first doubles with sophomore David Harris. Ryan Burns, another senior returnee, is at second doubles with sophomore Malik Stallings. 

Sophomore Aaron Slisher also should see time in doubles. 

“The biggest thing for (Coley) is going to be keeping him calm,” Stewart said. “This is his first year of playing high school tennis since he didn’t get to last year. He does play in a lot of tournaments and knows a lot of the guys that play, but it’s a different animal playing in high school where he’s consistently going to play somebody consistently good every match.  

“There’s a lot of good things with this group. We all know each other really well, which helps a lot. These guys work hard and want to do well. They’re really competitive, which is good. They’re a fun group to be around.” 

BOYS TENNIS 

Coach: Brett Stewart, second season 

Next match: April 8 at New Albany 

Key athletes: Ryan Burns, Jaden Coley, David Harris, James Knorr, Brian McClain, Dane Myers and Malik Stallings 

Volleyball team looks 

to continue growth 

For what would have been its fourth season last spring, the boys volleyball team was expecting to take a step forward led by 2020 graduate Donovan Travis after going 1-24 overall and 0-14 in the OCC-Ohio Division in 2019. 

While Travis is now competing for Baldwin Wallace after the 2020 season was canceled because of the pandemic, Reynoldsburg continues to have what coach Matt Bailey considers strong participation numbers as it looks to move forward. 

“This year’s team is looking to bounce back,” Bailey said. “With those players returning, most have not touched a volleyball since they were sophomores or freshmen two years ago. This year’s program again is having three teams. We’re excited to see so many boys interested in playing volleyball.” 

Of the 24 who came out for the program, five had previously competed in the sport, according to Bailey. 

Seniors Sam Gilmore (middle hitter) and Gabe Sargent (outside hitter) and junior Desmond Barber (outside hitter) were contributors on the 2019 team, which beat Licking Heights 21-25, 25-22, 25-21 for its only victory and won four other regular-season sets. 

Monty Rollins (middle hitter), Al Coumbassa (setter/opposite hitter) and John Hayes (libero/opposite hitter) are the other seniors. 

New to the program is freshman Anthony Myers (setter/opposite hitter). 

“Everyone is learning new positions this season,” Bailey said. “Each player is like a sponge. They’re just absorbing everything that’s being taught to them and implementing it into the games. We’re improving each day we’re out there and having fun while doing it. That’s all a coach can ask for.” 

BOYS VOLLEYBALL 

Coach: Matt Bailey, fourth season 

Next match: April 8 vs. Westerville Central 

Key athletes: Desmond Barber, Al Coumbassa, Sam Gilmore, John Hayes, Anthony Myers, Monty Rollins and Gabe Sargent 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek