Irish singles player wins 2
The dream of a state tennis championship remains alive for Ursuline High School junior Greg Morgione.
Friday at the Division II state tournament, Morgione defeated Miami Valley’s Niyanth Reddy (6-4, 6-4) and Waverly’s Penn Morrison (4-6, 6-2, 6-2) to advance to today’s semifinals at Lindner Family Tennis Center.
“A big sigh of relief,” is what Morgione said he felt after his second win. “It’s great to make that second day — that’s the goal.
“Once you get to [today], anything can happen.”
Last year, Morgione qualified for state but lost in the first round, adding that he left the tournament “with a bittersweet feeling. It’s a big change from last year.”
Morgione is the only Mahoning Valley tennis player remaining in the tournament.
Warren JFK’s Armand Nannicola, a junior, lost his opening match to Wellington School’s Trevor Ball (6-1, 6-1).
Ball, who also defeated Ottawa Hills’ Matthew McGee (6-1, 6-1), will be Morgione’s semifinal opponent.
That winner will play the winner of Pierce Elliott (Camden Preble Shawnee)-Andrew Zimcosky (Chagrin Falls) semifinal for the state crown.
Last week at the district tournament, Morgione played Zimcosky in the final, falling 6-3, 6-2.
“He’s very talented, the real deal and only a freshman,” Morgione said.
Ursuline’s two doubles teams won their first matches, but were eliminated in the second round of the Div. II tournament.
Seniors Austin Arfaras and Luke Tsudis defeated Clyde’s Jacob Strudthoff and James Dry (6-4, 6-1). The Irish duo then lost to Indian Hills’ Tejas Pisati and Mack Ellis (6-0, 6-1).
Ursuline sophomores Josh Khavari and Gavin Blacksher defeated Ottawa-Glandorf’s Carter Welch and Colin Welch (6-3, 7-5). That Irish duo lost to Gahanna Columbus Academy’s Suriya Sundaram and Rhian Seneviratne (6-1, 6-1).
“They are top eight in the state, we’ll take it,” Ursuline coach Kent Blacksher said of his doubles teams. “It’s pretty rarefied air.”
As freshmen, Tsudis and Arafas qualified for state but lost their first-round match.
In the Div. I tournament, Warren Harding’s Anthony Payiavias and Alexander Payiavias lost their opening match to Olentangy Orange’s Alex Heiden and Soham Pradhan (6-2, 6-3).
Morgione said the players were drained by high temperatures.
“It was tough with all the heat,” he said. “Playing in Cincinnati, you’d think it would feel like home but it felt like we were playing in Florida.”
Today’s forecast calls for warmer temperatures.
Morgione said his biggest challenge came against Morrison.
“I played a bad first set and was getting a little frustrated,” Morgione said.
That was his closest match of the day and he felt better as the finishing set progressed.