As the first-singles player for the Westerville Central boys tennis team, Tyler Gebbie competes in a sport that relies on focus, determination and coordination.
Gebbie also participates in another activity that relies on those same traits, as he plans to pursue a career in aviation and hopes to become a commercial pilot, following in the footsteps of his family.
The senior has learned to fly with assistance from his parents, Foster and Erin, and also has received training at the Spencer Aviation flight school in Delaware.
“(My parents are) the reason I became interested in flying,” Gebbie said. “They were both pilots when I was growing up. I thought that was awesome. That definitely got me interested.”
Foster is a pilot for United Airlines, while Erin flies for FedEx.
Gebbie plans to attend Bowling Green, where he will enter the school’s aviation program and join his brother, Brandt, a 2019 Central graduate who also played tennis for the Warhawks.
“It’s more of a hobby right now for me, but in the future, it’s something I want to do for a career,” said Gebbie, who began flying seriously during his junior year. “I was a little bit nervous at first, but the biggest part is taking off and landing. Once you get used to that, I got really comfortable really quickly. It’s all on me. I’m the only one there. I can’t rely on anyone else.”
He is nearing completion of the requirements to earn his private license.
“A private license is for someone who wants to fly recreationally,” Gebbie said. “If you want to do it as a career with the airlines, you’ll need several licenses. The end goal is to fly for an airline.”
Foster built an RV-6, which is a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing airplane that the family uses for recreational purposes.
“We fly it on vacation sometimes if it’s not super far,” Gebbie said. “We’ve been to Florida in it.”
Coach Brad Baker, who is in his first season, was impressed when he learned of Gebbie’s plans for the future.
“Tyler’s a fascinating kid,” Baker said. “I was pleasantly surprised to learn about his flying. It’s no small task to balance school, sports and studying to become a pilot. But if you know Tyler, it all makes sense. He’s going to be successful at whatever he puts his mind to achieving.”
Baker replaced Brian Arnett, who had led the program since the school opened in 2003. Baker completed his fourth season as the girls coach in the fall, and he was an assistant in the boys program the previous three seasons.
“Brian knew the program would be in good hands,” Baker said. “It’s been a smooth, easy transition and easy for the school. They knew that they had somebody who was passionate about tennis and would be more than excited to try to grow the boys program the same way that we have the girls.”
Gebbie played first singles for the Warhawks during the regular season a year ago before teaming with 2021 graduate Michael Weiler to go 1-1 in doubles at a Division I sectional.
“I love playing the sport, so I just wanted to play as much as I could,” Tyler said of his progression. “Coach Baker has been a big help teaching us guys the proper form in helping us improve.”
Also back is junior Rohan Mawalkar, who went 1-1 in singles at sectional and is starting the season at second doubles with sophomore A.J. Boyd.
The rest of the lineup includes seniors Max Rojanasakdakul (second singles), Nick Buehler (third singles) and sophomore Joseph Kwon and freshman Isaac Choo (first doubles).
“I’m trying to grow the program,” Baker said. “I want more kids playing tennis than what we have now, so that’s our big goal. We want to get our numbers up, so that we have 20, 25 kids playing boys tennis. When you get numbers, it creates competition, and competition creates more players.”
•Coach: Brad Baker, first season
•Top players: Nick Buehler, Tyler Gebbie and Max Rojanasakdakul
•Key losses: Will Arnett, Jackson Rittman. Sam Rojanasakdakul and Michael Weiler
•Last season: 4-10 overall
•2021 OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (4-0), Gahanna (3-1), Pickerington North (2-2), Grove City (1-3), Central (0-4)
•Coach: Tom Snyder, fifth season
•Top players: Brendan Ballard, Brandon Heil, Colin Meyer, Preston Thai and Aiden Zacherl
•Key losses: Kevin Heil, Michael James and Isaac Rush
•Last season: 5-12 overall
•2021 CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1), DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3), Ready (0-4)
•Outlook: Coach Tom Snyder anticipates a close competition into the season for the top three singles spots among sophomores Brendan Ballard, Brandon Heil and Preston Thai. That trio combined for 26 wins last season, as Heil and Thai mostly played first doubles with Ballard at third singles.
Sophomore Colin Meyer played one varsity singles match last season, and junior Aidan Zacherl saw some time at doubles.
Sophomore Aiden Mann and freshmen Gabe Arbona and Alex Rush will vie for the final two varsity spots. Snyder expects practices to remain competitive well into the season.
•Quotable: “It’s the least experienced team I’ve returned, but it’s also among the most athletic teams I’ve had. Colin and Aidan return with some experience, but the first-year players (Arbona, Mann and Rush) are good athletes and are coming along nicely. They’re athletic and are picking up things rather quickly.” — Snyder
•Coach: Jim Chellis, third season
•Top players: Cori Bohan, Tyler Jones, Shrey Shyamalan and Alex Workman
•Key losses: Tim Alston, Carter Jones and Adam Kaiser
•Last season: 12-3 overall
•2021 OCC-Capital standings: Dublin Scioto (7-0), Westerville North (5-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-2), Big Walnut (4-3), Delaware (3-4), Westerville South (3-4), Canal Winchester (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)
•Outlook: Four of last season’s postseason competitors, only one of whom is a senior in Alex Workman, return for the Warriors as they try to build on their best record since going 12-4 in 2015. That was an 11-win improvement from their 1-20 season in 2019.
Sophomore Shrey Shymalan got North’s only sectional win last season, going 1-1 in singles.
Other returnees include junior Cori Bohan, who plays girls soccer during the fall, and sophomore Tyler Jones. The Warriors’ other seniors are Kirby Campbell, Matthew Lake and Success Oguntuyi.
Carter Jones, who was 13-1 at singles last season, now plays at Mount Vernon Nazarene.
•Coach: Anthony Paletta, first season
•Top players: Samson Gurgiolo and Nikita Kitaev
•Key losses: Adrian Self
•Last season: 5-5 overall
•Outlook: The Wildcats have a new coach as Anthony Paletta has replaced Stephanie Thomas, who guided the program for one season.
Paletta, who previously led the boys and girls teams at Whitehall, completed his first season as girls coach at South last fall.
Sophomore Samson Gurgiolo returns at first singles and junior Nikita Kitaev is back at second singles, while junior Pierre Ananouko is playing third singles.
Senior Tony Tran and juniors Dominic Candella and Tyrell Franklin are among those competing for doubles spots.
•Quotable: “We have 11 guys on the team, and I’m excited to coach the boys. I’m really trying to develop a tennis community within Westerville South. I’m trying to bridge the boys and the girls teams and not just have a boys team and a girls team, but a Westerville South tennis program. Playing with integrity, being held accountable and improving — I’m really trying to build that team atmosphere.” — Paletta
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Boys Tennis: Westerville Central’s Gebbie ready to take flight