JFK’s Nannicola ready for return to state

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo JFK’s Armand Nannicola goes for an overhead smash near the net last week in his sectional final matchup with Ursuline’s Greg Morgione. Nannicola is returning to the state tournament for the second straight season.

Armand Nannicola is no longer a stranger to this scene. He’s been there before and is physically and mentally prepared for the challenge which lies ahead of him.

The John F. Kennedy junior tennis player begins today’s Division II state tennis tournament as a returning player after qualifying last season. He faces Trevor Ball, a junior from Columbus Wellington School, in his first match at the Linder Family Tennis Center in Mason, just outside of Cincinnati.

He’s been practicing with Warren G. Harding’s doubles team of Anthony and Alex Payiavlas in the meantime, preparing for this year’s challenge.

“I have been working on serves, returns and my consistency,” Nannicola said. “Off the court, I have been mentally preparing myself for matches.”

Getting noticed on such a big stage does help for the next step in his tennis career as prospective colleges are noticing what the JFK junior has been doing the last couple of seasons.

“For my recruiting process, I would say this is very helpful, as it is my second time going back to state,” Nannicola said.

He came out of the Akron District as a fourth seed, something that disturbed him since he was a second seed heading into district play.

“I felt a little unhappy with how I placed out of districts,” he said. “I felt I could have placed higher than I had. This means that I have to work harder in order to achieve the placement I desire.”

Nonetheless, he’ll have plenty of well-wishers from the area cheering him as he competes at state.

“I have received a bunch of good lucks from my friends and also teachers,” Nannicola said.