Columbus area players to watch in the Districts


The fall high school sports playoffs are heating up and tennis is the next sport to begin district competition.

Divisions I and II play their district tournaments on October 14-16, with Division I at Hilliard Davidson and Division II at Columbus Academy. In Division I, four singles winners and four pair doubles winners will qualify for the state tournament. In Division II, only one singles winner and one doubles doubles winner will advance.

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Wellington’s Alexis Burkhalter and Katie Zerbi began their quest to return to the state after finishing finalists last year in Division II doubles, and many other Columbus area stars will show up this week in Districts looking to qualify for the state tournament.

Here are some of the best Central Ohio tennis players to watch in the districts this week:

Simple Division I

Ella Franz, Olentangy Berlin

Franz, a senior, is unbeaten this year and has gone to three sets in one game. During the Hilliard Davidson section, she was the No. 1 seed and won the section title, winning three of her five games 6-0, 6-0. Franz qualified for the state last year and lost in the second round, but her success so far this season indicates she could go for a deeper run this year.

Bradley's first junior player Anh Thi Thai has shown leadership skills on and off the pitch.  Her efforts include hosting an adult mixed doubles tennis tournament to benefit the Central Ohio Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Anh Thi Thai, Hilliard Bradley

As the No.1 seed in Reynoldsburg’s first section, Thai won the title without losing a game until the league game, when she beat Amelia Kunard of Dublin Scioto 6-4, 6-0 . Thai has lost only twice in the regular season, once to Megan Basil of Upper Arlington and once to Tyler Reed of Olentangy Orange.

Junior Dasha Chistyakova is back for Coffman after qualifying for the Division I state tournament last season.

Dasha Chistyakova, Dublin Coffman

Chistyakova, a junior, finished third in the Hilliard Davidson section after losing her first game of the season in the semifinal to Megan Basil of Upper Arlington. She bounced back in the third-place match to defeat her Coffman teammate Pritika Ghosh-Choudhuri 6-3, 6-1. Chistyakova qualified for the state last year and lost in the first round.

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Division I Double

Karol Korotkin of Olentangy Orange returns the ball in his second singles match against Raaga Chakilam of Olentangy Berlin in Orange on Wednesday 9 September 2020.

Tyler Reed and Karol Korotkin, Olentangy Orange

Reed and Korotkin are 5-1 in doubles this year, which includes their Pickerington Section title race. The loss came in the regular season to Alexis Burkhalter and Katie Zerbi of Wellington, who finished second in Division II last year and fourth in 2019. In the sections, the duo won two of their games 6-0, 6-0 and won all four in straight sets.

Upper Arlington's Ava Richard returns the ball in a doubles match against New Albany on October 6, 2020, at New Albany High School in New Albany, Ohio.

Ava Richard and Anna Leach, Upper Arlington

As the No. 2 seed in the Hilliard Davidson Section, Richard and Leach won the title with a relentless 7-5, 7-5 victory over their teammates Upper Arlington and No. 3 seed Ellis. Mizer and Isabella Roth. Richard and Leach only teamed up once in the regular season, but won that game in straight sets.

New Albany's Paige Cornelius returns against Pickerington Central on August 18, 2020 in New Albany.

Richie François and Paige Cornelius, New Albany

Francois and Cornelius, both sophomores, were the No. 1 seeds in the second section of Reynoldsburg and took the title with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over their New Albany teammates Demo Shostak and Helen Wang. In the regular season, François was undefeated in singles and Cornelius only lost twice. The duo are undefeated in doubles.

Simple Division II

Columbus Academy's Arya Chabria serves against Coffman in a doubles match at Dublin Coffman High School on October 6, 2020

Arya Chabria, Columbus Academy

As the No. 2 seed in the Columbus Academy section, Chabria won the title with a victory over teammate Anna Chang, 7-6 (4), 6-1. The sophomore is 16-6 in singles this season, but has won seven of her last eight games and pushed Coffman’s Pritika Ghosh-Choudhuri to three sets in loss.

Anna Lenhart, Buckeye Valley

Lenhart, a junior, was the No.1 seed in the Columbus School for Girls section and had a relatively straightforward path to the title. Before dropping the first set of the league game against number 2 seed Meghan Mayotte of Worthington Christian, Lenhart lost just three games in the tournament and won two of her games 6-0, 6-0.

Division II Double

Wellington's Alexis Burkhalter (right) and Katie Zerbi are joining forces again in doubles for the playoffs after finishing second in the Division II State Tournament last year and fourth in 2019.

Alexis Burkhalter and Katie Zerbi, Wellington

Burkhalter and Zerbi might just be Ohio’s most successful doubles pair yet to win a state title. The duo finished fourth in 2019 and finished second last year, and in Burkhalter’s senior year this is their last chance to win. At the Columbus School for Girls chapter, they lost just one game on their way to the chapter title.

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