Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Girls tennis team expects 'great year'

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Junior Aubrey Thomas is back to play first singles for the Gahanna Lincoln girls tennis team, which returns most of its lineup from last season when the Lions finished 13-8.

Contending for an OCC title might be tougher than in recent years for the Gahanna Lincoln girls tennis team considering the latest league realignment puts it in the same division as perennial power New Albany.

There still could be plenty of upside for the Lions, though, in terms of what they accomplish.

Gahanna went 5-12 in 2018 but improved to 13-8 overall last fall and returns nearly all of its lineup.

"We flipped our record around, going from 5-12 to last year finishing with 13 wins," 12th-year coach Chris Schwinnen said. "I'm looking forward to another great year."

Schwinnen also is the Lions' boys tennis coach, but the 2020 spring season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

"We're trying to do what we're supposed to do," Schwinnen said. "We've got our masks on. We wanted them to be in smaller groups, so we're separating the (junior varsity) and varsity practices. Varsity goes one-and-a-half hours and j.v. goes one-and-a-half hours. We got canceled in the spring, so whatever we need to do, we'll do. I'm really hoping to get back to the 15-16-win mark."

Gahanna, Pickerington North and Grove City remain in the OCC-Ohio and now are joined by Westerville Central and Westland as well as New Albany. The Lions went 3-2 in the league last year to finish third as North won the title at 5-0.

The Lions opened Aug. 13 by beating Marysville 4-1. They begin league action Aug. 25 at Westland.

There are 23 players in the program.

Junior Aubrey Thomas played first singles last fall. Her season ended with a loss in a quarterfinal in a Division I sectional at Hilliard Bradley.

"We're very happy to be back out," Thomas said. "I'm very excited. We have a lot of returning varsity letterwinners and all of us have improved tremendously. I can't wait to see all of this hard work pay off."

Sophomore Frankie Nuss and junior Caroline Mattox also should be regular singles players.

Mattox teamed with 2020 graduate Madi Herrmann to reach a quarterfinal in doubles at sectional last year.

Junior Sophie Graham and sophomore Alana Amer are expected to be at first doubles after losing in the second round at sectional.

Senior Emily Innis and sophomore Natalie Garcia also are playing doubles.

"I'm really excited," Schwinnen said. "Two years ago when Aubrey, Sophie and Caroline were freshmen, they made a huge impact on the team. We knew we were building something and I was really looking forward to when those girls were juniors and seniors."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

At a glance

GIRLS TENNIS

*Coach: Chris Schwinnen, 12th season

*Top players: Alana Amer, Sophie Graham, Caroline Mattox, Frankie Nuss and Aubrey Thomas

*Key loss: Madi Herrmann

*Last season: 13-8 overall

*2019 OCC-Ohio standings: Pickerington North (5-0), Pickerington Central (4-1), Gahanna (3-2), Grove City (1-4), Lancaster (1-4), Reynoldsburg (1-4)