Gabel making big strides for Nordonia boys tennis

Roger Gordon
Correspondent
Nordonia Knights

Cole Gabel has come a long way the last two years as a member of the Nordonia tennis team.

“Cole started playing tennis the winter before his sophomore year two years ago, so he came in pretty raw that season,” Knights head coach Ryan Vehar said. “I recall pretty much giving him the basics in the first couple weeks that season.

“He liked to swing really hard. That’s what a lot of people do when the see tennis on TV. Then they realize that’s not going to get the ball in, and they’ve got to learn the correct techniques and work from there. So we had to dial it back a little for him, but he quickly picked up the strokes that he needed to learn and mixed in a couple hard smashed balls here and there. He got in a good deal of varsity doubles matches that year.”

Gabel continued to improve his game by practicing indoors the winter of his junior year and sporadically during the pandemic. Now a senior, he has improved a great deal.

“Cole was excited about coming into his senior season,” said Vehar. “He’s able to hit some overheads now, and he’s definitely picked up the pace on his ball. He’s always working on his groundstrokes. He’s always improving there. He moves well around the court. He has good anticipation of where the opponent’s shot is going, and he’s also good at the net. He hits pretty precise shots to where we need them to be. He’s a lot more consistent, too.

“As with most of our kids, he has his up times and his down times, but he weathers the down times with whoever he’s playing with. He works well with any kid I’ve been pairing him with.

Gabel began the season playing doubles, then got a crack at singles twice.

“The first singles match was a pretty close loss,” Vehar said, “and then the second match he came up against a real good Brecksville player.”

In that match, which was at second singles, against the visiting Suburban League National Conference rival Bees on April 19, Gabel fell 6-0, 6-0 during a 5-0 defeat.

It was back to doubles for Gabel April 22 in Nordonia’s 3-2 victory, again at home, over Akron Archbishop Hoban. He teamed with freshman Ranbeer Bajwa to win easily 6-0, 6-0 at number two doubles.

The next day, on April 23 again at home, Gabel and Bajwa joined forces again to win 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 6-1 at second doubles during a 3-2 loss to National Conference rival Cuyahoga Falls.

Nordonia slipped to 3-8 overall and 1-4 in the conference.

According to his coach, Gabel can be very intense on the court.

“Cole’s sophomore season, he’d get very frustrated with himself when things weren’t exactly going well,” he said. “But we worked on trying to keep that mental edge, trying to keep his head focused.

“I think the sport has been good for him in terms of how to handle the up and down emotions of a two-hour match, the ebbs and flows of it. It’s still a work in progress. It’s just about staying positive and being a role model for our younger players, how to act on and off the court.”

Gabel enjoyed his short time playing singles this season, but doubles is where he belongs right now, according to Vehar.