Irish tennis trio young, experienced

The Ursuline Irish boys tennis team will be well-represented in Friday and Saturday’s Division II district tennis tournament held at Akron’s Springside Racquet & Fitness Club.

Freshman singles player Greg Morgione will be joined by the sophomore doubles duo of Luke Tsudis and Austin Arfaras in representing the Irish this weekend. Morgione, the No. 1 seed in the Boardman sectional last week, will take on Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s junior Michael Chmura — the No. 4 seed in the Wooster sectional — in the first round of the district tournament.

Despite his youth, Morgione is well beyond his years.

“It’s funny to use the term consummate pro in describing a freshman,” Irish coach Kent Blacksher said, laughing. “But Greg’s very calm on the court and very committed to what he does, and it’s showed all season.”

In fact, Morgione went 10-0 and lost just one set the entire season. Morgione swept West Branch’s Jordan Brown, 6-0, 6-0, in the quarterfinals of the Boardman sectional, before knocking off No. 4 seed Andrew Engartner of Mooney, 6-2, 6-1.

Blacksher said that Morgione has been so consistent throughout the season that it makes it hard to find where he’s really improved.

“He has the ability to counterpunch,” Blacksher said. “He can really frustrate his opponent as a defensive tennis player. I like Greg’s chances in any match, just because he’s always well-prepared and he responds well to adversity.”

While Morgione is seeking his first trip to state, his sophomore teammates are looking for a return to Mason. As freshmen, Tsudis and Arfaras advanced through the district before losing in the first round of the state tournament to Vishaal Nalagatla and Shashank Reddy from powerhouse Cincinnati Country Day — the eventual Division II state champs.

This year, however, has provided some adversity for the pairing. Blacksher said that the duo didn’t even play doubles together in 2017 until the sectional tournament this past week.

A combination of injuries and low numbers forced both into singles roles, as well as being paired up with other doubles partners. Despite this, Blacksher said neither Tsudis nor Arfaras complained, as Arfaras finished with a 6-1 singles record this year, while Tsudis went 7-4.

“They’re just great guys, they get along famously,” Blacksher said. “They feed off of each other in a very positive way and they’re just now really starting to gel with one another.

“They’re both kind of old pros and it’s great to have that experience from last year. Both are big hitters, but Austin is a big serve and ground strokes guy, while Luke is a little more conservative. They complement each other very well.”