Cousins made it to state tennis

Special to Tribune Chronicle Cousins Cece Economus from Canfield, left, and Lexie Tsudis from Ursuline, right, played at state.

Renae Economus sat on the balcony of the Springside Racquet and Fitness Club in Akron a couple of weekends ago.

She started crying. Someone nearby asked why.

Her daughter, Cece, had made it to the girls tennis state tournament for the first time. Cece and her Canfield High School doubles partner Sydney Cianciola had qualified to play at the state tournament in Division I at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason.

“I’m just so proud of who she’s become,” Renae said. “I’m just proud to be her mom.”

Over on the next court in Akron, Cece’s cousin, Lexie Tsudis, also made state for the first time with her Ursuline High School doubles partner Vy Hoang. The pair qualified for state in Division II.

“What a way to end it, to step foot on the state court,” said Lexie’s mother, Athena.

Both Mahoning Valley doubles teams lost in the first round Friday at Mason. Economus and Cianciola were beaten 6-2, 6-1 by the eventual third-place team from Mason. Tsudis and Hoang lost 6-1, 6-2 to a team from Columbus Academy in Gahanna.

Athena and Renae are sisters, both Warren G. Harding graduates in the 1980s with the maiden name of Raphtis. Their father, Tom, was a 1956 Harding graduate and is an inductee in the Warren Sports Hall of Fame. He played baseball for legendary coach Dom Rosselli at Youngstown State University.

Neither one of his daughters played tennis, but they saw Lexie and Cece pick up the game when they were 5 or 6 years old at the Youngstown Country Club, starting with clinics. It built into a doubles partnership and competitive matches at the Boardman Tennis Center.

“Playing doubles with Lexie has prepared me for my season and through high school,” Cece said.

The tight-knit family group is not just Lexie and Cece, but it includes Luke, Lexie’s twin brother, and Lilly, Cece’s twin sister. Luke is an accomplished tennis player for the Ursuline boys team, while Lilly is an intergal part of the Canfield volleyball team.

“We inspire one another to be the best we can be,” Lexie said.

Many family members from both sides converged in Mason this past weekend to see the cousins represent themselves and their family at state.

Beforethat, there was an emotional sendoff to Mason for the Ursuline doubles team during a rally for them outside the school, showing what a great family atmosphere it is there.

“I got choked up,” Athena said.