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Senior captain Chris Nuzzo and the Morgan boys’ tennis team are headed back to the Class S State Championship after notching three recent wins. Nuzzo has a record of 9-5 at the No. 1 singles position for the Huskies. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Sean Arribas Cockley and the Huskies improved to 11-4 by winning all three of their matches last week, including a 4-3 victory versus previously undefeated Cromwell. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan boys’ tennis team is putting together another solid season with Head Coach Chris Zawadski in 2019. With victories against Haddam-Killingworth, North Branford, and Cromwell last week, the Huskies played their way into the Class S State Championship for the eighth time in the last nine years. Morgan is sporting a record of 11-4 and looks to finish the regular season strong as the postseason approaches.
Coach Zawadski feels proud of his squad for competing hard and getting the wins it needed to make states. The Huskies have had a long run of success with Zawadski at the helm, and believes that his players are going to pose problems for the opposition during the playoffs.
“States is always our goal since I’ve been coaching here. In nine years, we’ve only missed once. I knew that we would be good with a senior-heavy team,” Zawadski said. “We had some close losses early that probably cost us a higher seed, but I know a lot of teams aren’t going to want to face our guys at states. Their athleticism, coupled with the fact that they don’t like to lose, means they’ll leave it all on the line.”
The Huskies are laden with senior talent, and they feature four steady leaders: senior captains Chris Nuzzo, Garrett Johnson, Paddy Murray, and Sean Arribas Cockley. All four have been on the team since they were freshmen, and Zawadski knows that he can trust them to keep the team focused and ready to compete.
“Usually, I don’t like to have more than two captains, but all four of these guys put a huge amount of time into the sport with me,” said Zawadski. “They have the experience and the expectations necessary. They have been with me for four years, and they all had me as teacher, too.”
On May 6, Morgan qualified for states by claiming a 7-0 home win against Haddam-Killingworth. In the singles matches, Nuzzo earned a 6-1, 6-2 win at the No. 1 spot; Johnson scored a 6-0, 6-0 shutout in the No. 2 match; and Murray netted a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 3. Sophomore Zach Johnson subbed in at No. 4 singles and grabbed a 6-0, 6-1 win, while Tyler Greenhouse picked up a victory via default at No. 5.
As for doubles, the Huskies’ No. 1 pairing of junior Andrew Daly and sophomore Alex Urban recorded a 6-2, 6-0 victory. The freshman duo of Page Guptil and Tarik Hasic posted a 6-0, 6-0 shutout at No. 2 doubles.
Morgan didn’t run out its typical lineup against H-K, but Coach Zawadski was pleased to get some of the club’s younger players a little varsity experience on the doubles court.
“We had a couple of freshmen that played in their first varsity match. They were nervous, but they were also so excited,” Zawadski said. “They showed that they will be able to continue to improve through the next year.”
Two days after the H-K win, Morgan defeated North Branford via forfeit.
On May 9, the Huskies earned a hard-fought 4-3 road win over an undefeated Cromwell team. Nuzzo prevailed by a 6-2, 6-4 final in the No. 1 singles match for Morgan. Murray netted a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 4 singles, while Arribas Cockley claimed a 6-2, 6-1 win in the No. 5 matchup.
The final score boiled down to the No. 2 doubles match, where senior Calvin Jackson and freshman Isaac Adler battled back from an early deficit to win a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 decision and secure the 4-3 victory for the Huskies.
Coach Zawadski felt that Morgan showed its toughness and ability to persevere in big matches by defeating Cromwell.
“Chris started off with the win at the No. 1. That set the tone for us, and Paddy rolled at No. 4. I told Sean that we had to get his win at No. 5, and he came out and won,” said Zawadski. “Isaac and Calvin had a huge win at No. 2 doubles. It all came down to their match. They dropped a close first set and then buckled down to pick up the win. Cromwell was undefeated up to that point. That was our signature win for the year.”
Nuzzo is having a strong season for Morgan in the No. 1 singles position. The senior captain owns a record of 9-5 after having previously played doubles with fellow captain Murray, who has a mark of 8-3 while playing both No. 3 and 4 singles. Both athletes are excelling in their new roles.
“It helps a lot to get a win at the top. Each school in the [Shoreline Conference] is good enough to pull a really good player or two. To have a player like Chris move up to No. 1 from doubles and show up with a 9-5 record is huge,” Coach Zawadski said. “Paddy’s also been really solid. It’s a transition going from doubles to singles. He’s done well. He’s quick and he can get a lot of stuff back. He’s got one of the better forehands, and he has a good feel for the sport. His footwork is good. He’s always in the right spot. I never have to tell him to move his feet.”
Another bright spot for the Huskies has been the performance of senior JP Nye, who switches between No. 3 and 4 singles with Murray. Nye, who’s seen plenty of success in other sports, has a record of 10-2 on the year.
“JP was the sixth man on the basketball team and quarterback in football. He’s one of the more athletic kids on a team full of athletes. He has such a good serve,” Zawadski said. “With his size and speed, he can get to the net and, then if he gets lobbed, he’s so tall he can get to those, too. He’s frustrating to play because, if you hit a winner, he finds a way to poke it back.”
Coach Zawadski feels confident that Morgan can make some noise during the postseason. While the Huskies may not be your typical tennis team, they have what it takes to compete in every match.
“We have athletes up and down the roster, but I don’t really have just tennis kids. I have kids that have played a bit of everything,” said Zawadski. “They know how to win, and they want to win.”
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