Ursuline dominates in sectional
BOARDMAN — Ursuline’s Greg Morgione kept trading forehands with John F. Kennedy’s Armand Nannicola, each one barely clearing the net, but struck with plenty of force.
The two juniors were the top two seeded singles players at the boys tennis Division II Boardman Sectional.
It was not a surprise to see the two in Saturday’s sectional final, or seeing Morgione winning, 6-1, 6-2. The rallies during the two sets masked the gap in the score, but what was plain to see was those in Saturday’s finals were playing for seeding at this week’s D-II district at Springside Racquet and Fitness Club in Akron.
The Ursuline doubles teams faced off against one another for the sectional title for a second straight year. Austin Arfaras and Luke Tsudis handled teammates Gavin Blacksher and Josh Khavari, 6-4, 6-0.
Morgione has a one seed, while Nannicola is a two seed.
Getting that one seed ensures that in the district Morgione will face a No. 4 seed from another sectional. These matches have meaning, despite the fact the competitors already have clinched spots in the district.
“Some people look at it like you already made it, you have nothing to lose,” Morgione said. “Seeding plays a big role up in districts. If you get the one, obviously you’re not playing the top guys from other (sectionals). You lose a key match here, you could set yourself up for some trouble.”
Nannicola will face a third seed from another sectional. Those brackets will be announced on Monday.
Facing some of northeast Ohio’s best in his own sectional helps.
Lakeview’s Jake McDivitt, Nannicola and Morgione all made state last season.
“All of them playing in the same section helps all of us prepare for districts and hopefully state,” Nannicola said.
Morgione beat fourth-seeded Sean O’Connor, his Ursuline teammate in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-1. O’Connor, who was a doubles player last season, went on his own and found success and another district trip.
He lost to McDivitt in the third-place match, 6-2, 6-2.
McDivitt lost to Nannicola in the semifinals, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Getting a three seed at district gives the Bulldogs’ top player a bit more of a difficult trip to get back the state tournament in Mason.
“The higher seeds you get here, the less pressure you have at districts,” McDivitt said.
Arfaras and Tsudis goin to district play as a one seed, but playing for the last time in Boardman makes Arfaras sentimental.
“It’s kind of bittersweet because this is our last sectional,” Arfaras said. “We’ve been coming here for four years. It’s a little sad, but it’s happy, too. We’re ending on a good note.”
Playing your teammates to win the district title is hard way to accomplish that feat. However, Blacksher and Khavari are No. 2 seeds for district play.
“It sort of sucks we have to play team, but that’s how it goes,” Tsudis said. “We have to go out there, play our best, forget who we’re playing, I guess.”
Poland’s Sam Scotford and Sam Delatore, the third seed, beat fourth-seeded Ryan Carnahan and John Silbaugh of Lakeview in the third-place match, 6-2, 7-6.
Poland’s team lost to Arfaras/Tsudis in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-2, while Lakeview’s doubles team dropped its semifinals matchup to Blacksher and Khavari, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Poland coach Jimmy Leslie said seeding isn’t as important as match-ups in district play, so he’s not sold on the theory that higher seeds have a better shot of advancing to state. Win two at districts and you’re heading to state. It’s about match-ups, especially in your second-round district match.
“I’ll be honest with you,” Leslie said. “Today’s a joke. Seeding really doesn’t matter because you might come out of here as the one seed. But if you’re put in a bracket where another team’s two seed is phenomenal, sort of like Hathaway Brown with girls. They are so awesome and you don’t want to be the one seed coming out of here.
“Because it’s a draw, pick of a hat every single year, just making it is the important thing. A lot of people disagree with me on this, but it’s the God’s honest truth. It doesn’t matter if you come out of here one, two, three or four. What matters is where the other teams fall out in their brackets.”