Kyle Fout, Gahanna Lincoln High School tennis captain. (Courtesy: Kyle and Bob Fout)

One High School Athlete Holds out Hope for Spring Play

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GAHANNA, Ohio – COVID-19 has left spring sports’ seasons in jeopardy for a plethora of sports leagues ranging from professional to youth leagues. Many college and high school seniors may lose their last chance to play the sport they love and lose their final opportunity to leave that last impression on the program they’ve dedicated so much time towards.

Gahanna Lincoln High School’s Kyle Fout is one of these athletes.

Fout, the senior tennis captain for the Lions, is one of three seniors on the team, but could have been the only senior on the varsity team for the 2020 season. The season had high hopes according to Fout and head coach, Chris Schwinnen.

“I would say we were the favorite to win the OCC title for the fifth straight time,” Schwinnen said. “If we played up to our potential, I was looking at a 16 to17-win season for these guys with only three or four losses depending on how we played against certain teams.”

For Fout, the 2020 season would have earned him his fourth varsity letter in tennis and potentially a fourth OCC title.

“I have never had a player be able to say that he has won four straight OCC titles,” Schwinnen said. “Kyle definitely would have been one of the first players to say that.”

Now, with the season in jeopardy, Fout and Schwinnen are forced to wait and see if a season can be played. For Fout, after a disappointing season last year, he was poised to have a comeback season this year.

“This past winter, I’ve been working harder than I ever have before just because it’s my senior season and I’m just going into this with the mindset that the hard work will pay off,” Fout said.

“I think last year Kyle was very disappointed with how the season turned out,” Schwinnen said. “I saw him respond. This offseason I saw him take that leadership role as a senior and work his tail off because he knew that he had a shot at going to state.”

Fout and Schwinnen remain hopeful for at least part of a season.

“Coach Schwinnen has been telling me just to keep my head up and that there isn’t really anything I can do about it,” Fout said. “It sucks because we had a freshman coming in and him and I could have made it to the state tournament in doubles. We are just hoping and praying that we still have the sectional tournament.”

According to Schwinnen, the sectional tournament is scheduled for May 13. Currently, schools in Ohio are closed until May 1 per the order of Gov. DeWine, so dual matches and practices could take place after that date. On top of that, the Ohio High School Athletic Association extended their No-Contact period through May 1.

Fout said he isn’t quite ready to accept the idea of not being able to play this year. Regardless of whether Fout will take the court again as a member of the Gahanna Lincoln tennis team, he said he has only one regret.

“I wish I would have worked harder my junior, sophomore, and freshman seasons,” he said. “I wish I would have worked harder during the off season and during the season. All of the practices and clinics… I took those for granted.”

Fout currently sits at 55 career match wins and was on pace to get more than 70 wins in his career, which would have been around 25 wins short of the record of 95 career match wins set by Canyon Teague in 2013.