GOHIL taylor

STATE-BOUND: Taylor High School senior Ishan Gohil needs one more win to become the top winner in school history.

One would guess that rain, wind and cool temperatures would have been the worst kind of weather for Ishan Gohil Wednesday afternoon.

The Taylor High School senior is in the home stretch of a phenomenal tennis career and Saturday, will join 14 of the state’s elite players for the 27th annual Singles State Tournament at North Central High School. With that on his plate, one had to assume court time was critical.

Turns out however, Gohil didn’t mind the rainout. He practiced indoors.

For that matter, all of his piano practices are indoors. Wednesday afternoon, Gohil spent 45 minutes at the keys working on such pieces as “Barcolle.”

“Piano is just something I do for fun,” he said. “I’m not super serious about it like tennis, but I enjoy it. I play pretty much year-around. I have other hobbies — I enjoy running and reading.”

Coach Dave Wise said Gohil’s mother always picked up the team’s tennis schedule well before the season began so she could schedule her son’s piano lessons.

“She did a good job of working his piano around our matches,” Wise said with a laugh. “She’s been at school to take him to piano lessons as long as I can remember. Personally, I think it’s great. No one works harder at tennis than Ishan and I’m glad to see him, or any kid, with interests outside tennis.”

Of course those who have been on the wrong end of Gohil’s 70 career victories would tell you the missed practice time over the years didn’t affect his performance.

As one of only two Titans to play No. 1 singles all four years, Gohil has excelled, despite his slight build (5-foot-8, 138 pounds) and that he is young for his grade. He won’t be 17 until Dec. 26. Over the past three seasons, he’s chiseled out a 57-5 record — four of those five losses coming to Peru High School’s Quinn Saine who now plays at Western Kentucky University.

Wise, the only coach in Taylor’s 35 seasons of boys tennis, says he’s loved coaching Gohil the player — and the person the last four years.

“There’s a combination of things that make [Gohil] such a good player,” Wise said, noting his hours of practice in Kokomo and Indianapolis. “First, he’s a smart kid in the classroom and on the court. He knows the game very well.

“He’s also hard to play against. You can’t hit with him on the baseline and if you come to the net, he’ll pass you. He’s deceptively quick, has good athletic ability and great hand-eye coordination. He’s also very quick with his racquet. He can stand in the middle of the court and an opponent won’t know whether he’s going with his forehand or backhand.”

Gohil will need all his talents as he steps into uncharted territory Saturday, making his first appearance in the State Singles Tournament. He’ll take on Fort Wayne South junior Derek Carpenter (23-2) in his 10 a.m. opener and if successful, will return for a 2 p.m. match against Frankton sophomore Alex Poe (21-1). Winners will advance to the state finals Oct. 20-21 at Park Tudor High School.

Gohil said he’d never played Carpenter, but Gohil knows he’s an outstanding player.

“I’ve seen him play in a couple of tournaments,” Gohil said. “He has good ground strokes and he’s a very consistent player. He won’t beat himself. I’ll have to play some of my best tennis to beat him.”

Gohil said that while he didn’t know all of the players in the North Central field, he said he thought Carpenter and Cathedral’s Luke Bielawski would be considered among the favorites. Gohil is one of four unbeatens in the field — others are Nick Volz (23-0) of Evansville Central, Chris Herron (26-0) of Greenwood and Brian Fairchild (22-0) of Tri High.

“I’ve been trying to get down to Indianapolis for three years now, so I’m looking forward to it,” Gohil said. “I’ve already fulfilled my goals of going unbeaten and winning the [singles] sectional. I just want to do the best I can and see how I compare.”

Of course, Gohil’s future is bright well beyond tennis. He ranks No. 1 in his class and will major in biology and chemistry next fall at a yet-to-be decided college.

He’ll likely follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician — and play a little piano on the side.

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