Bull Dogs edge Olympians on tennis courts

With the score tied 1-1 and three matches heading to a third set Wednesday, Kevin Luo and Anay Gangal were focused on eliminating mistakes.

Both of the players were able to do that, and as a result, host Columbus North pulled out a 3-2 win against Columbus East in a match that was every bit as close as the score indicated.

“It was looking really close, so I knew I had to win to make sure we pulled out the victory,” said Luo, who beat JoJo Woolwine 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 at No. 2 singles. “I just wanted to avoid the mistakes I did in the second set, and it worked out well.”

The same philosophy worked for Gangal, who rallied for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win against Neeraj Pandita at No. 3 singles.

“I was making less unforced errors,” Gangal said. “I was trying to keep the ball in play and go for winners. My goal was to keep the momentum going after the second set and keep doing what I did and try not to let him get the lead.”

Gangal’s win gave the Bull Dogs (3-1) an insurmountable 3-1 lead. East’s Matt Furnish and Sammy Woolwine made it 3-2 with a 6-4, 6-7 (5) 6-3 win against Nathan VanDeventer and Ammar Khaled at No. 1 doubles.

“I was trying to not let the pressure get to me,” Gangal said. “Neeraj was playing really well, and even if I did lose, I knew that 1 doubles would make a good effort to try to win, so I didn’t have all that much pressure, but I’m glad I won.”

North took a 1-0 lead with Daniel Larken and Kevin Lin beat Daniel Kuhlman and Austin Guse 6-3, 6-1 at No. 2 doubles. The Olympians (4-2) tied it with Alex Galle’s 6-4, 6-1 win against Aditya Mantri at No. 1 singles.

That No. 1 singles match ended right about the time the three matches went to a third set.

“I knew it was going to be a nice match,” North coach Kendal Hammel said. “It didn’t surprise me that three of the matches went three sets. We were a little stronger in the third sets at a couple of the positions, so I was pleased with some of the stuff I saw. There’s still things to work on.”

Barring a major upset, the two schools will meet again in the North Sectional in four weeks.

“We just have to work a little harder,” East coach Jim Stone said. “I told the kids I thought they all competed extremely well. In some matches, we haven’t done that, especially against North, so that was a plus. Now, we just have to get more big points, and hopefully, we can get a few more big games and maybe turn it around in the sectional.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.