Focused Ursuline looking toward district play

Special to Tribune Chronicle Ursuline High School girls tennis team has five qualifiers for today’s Division II district in Akron. From left, are: Anna Morgione, Emma Thornton, Lanna Dellick, Lexie Tsudis and Vy Hoang.

Focus. That’s what Lexie Tsudis does each time she steps on the court.

She and her doubles partner, Vy Hoang, are heading into the Division II district girls tennis tournament today at the Springside Racquet and Fitness Club in Akron. The Irish duo, holding one of four No. 1 seeds after winning the local sectional tournament, begin district play with Emma Orazen and Francis O’Neil of Chagrin Falls.

If they win two straight matches, the two will be playing in the district semifinals for seeding in the state tournament in Mason, a suburb of Cincinnati. The top five singles and doubles teams advance to state.

Tsudis goes into every match making sure she is fully prepared physically and mentally, exuding positive energy.

“The best way I can relax on the court is envisioning myself successfully performing,” she said.

Ursuline coach Kent Blacksher said Tsudis and Hoang, both singles players during the season, are high-quality players and have a great work rate on the court. They are both smart and composed.

“They are just so strong, so consistent,” Blacksher said. “No glaring weaknesses. They hit the ball well off both wings. They play well at the net, solid serves. They’re a handful for just about anyone.”

The team’s No. 1 doubles team during the regular season, freshman Anna Morgione and junior Emma Thornton, come in as a three seed for the district tournament. They take on Wooster Triway’s Allison Kesner and Emily Allison.

Morgione and Thornton are newcomers to the Ursuline team.

“They’re two peas in a pod in terms of them being composed,” Blacksher said. “You wouldn’t know it was their first year competing at the high school level.”

Thornton runs around her neighborhood to keep the nerves down. She played volleyball for the Irish the past two seasons, but went out for tennis this year. She appreciates the support from her teammates and coaches on and off the court.

“The best way I relax on the court is trying not to let other players get in my head and stay focused on the game,” Thornton said. “I also talk to Anna to strategize when the other team wins points.”

Morgione has played tennis most of her life. Her older brother, Greg, is on the boys team, while her younger brother, Will, plays as well. Anna embraces new challenges, just like she’s going to face today.

“Whenever I get tensed up on the court, I try my hardest to relax,” she said. “When playing doubles, having a teammate there to support you really plays a beneficial role. We each make mistakes, but being there for each other to boost our confidence is what makes Emma and I successful.

“We work together to calm each other down because being nervous or stressed affects the way we both play.”

Then there’s freshman Lanna Dellick, who was unseeded at sectionals and goes into district play as a four seed. She plays top seed Claudia Adcock from Orrville.

Blacksher said the future is bright for this freshman, who has been one of the better singles players in this area, especially when it comes to defensive tennis.

“A lot of girls at this level can really hit the ball,” Blacksher said. “Lanna seems to feed off that pace. She hits so many balls back in play that a lot of other players wouldn’t. It’s her type of game. She has some surprising pop.”

Dellick said she’s trying her best to relax, focus and not get overwhelmed in district play. She’s looking forward during the match, not dwelling on what just happened. It’s been a fun first year for the Ursuline freshman.

“Tennis is fun for me because it is both physically and mentally challenging,” she said. “Being on the Ursuline tennis team with such great teammates and coaches has made me love the sport even more.”

Tsudis embraces the competition, something she’s done since an early age.

“I really enjoyed my last season and will truly miss playing with my teammates,” she said. “I am excited to be going into the district tournament with so many of my teammates and am proud to represent Ursuline High School once again.

“I would like to thank my awesome coaches and teammates for a very fun season.”