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Senior captain Chris Nuzzo and the Morgan boys’ tennis team turned in a record of 14-4 during the regular season this year. Nuzzo teamed up with fellow senior captain Garrett Johnson to reach the final in the doubles bracket at the Class S State Championship. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior James Nye earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors while splitting time between the No. 3 and No. 4 singles positions for the Huskies’ boys’ tennis team this spring. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Sean Arribas Cockley played No. 5 singles for Morgan and served as a solid mentor for many of the younger Huskies’ players. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Senior Liam Whelan (pictured) and sophomore Zach Johnson played No. 1 doubles for the Huskies and made it to the third round of the Class S State Championship doubles bracket this year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Morgan boys’ tennis squad had a strong season in 2019 tallying 14 wins in a tough Shoreline Conference. The Huskies featured a veteran squad with several seniors playing the bulk of the teams matches. Morgan also saw its top two singles players No. 1 Chris Nuzzo and No. 2 Garret Johnson pair up to make some noise in the Class S State Championship, as well as the State Open.
Overall, Coach Zawadski was pleased with the results the Huskies posted this season. Morgan’s 14 wins were solid, and Zawadski credited his upperclassmen for shouldering the load.
“I was happy with the season, though I thought we could have done a bit better. 14-4 is a good record, but there were a couple of matches that we lost 4-3 that I thought we could have won,” Zawadski said. “Obviously being so senior heavy, I thought our experience gave us an advantage. This has been the one of the most successful group of seniors to come through the school in their four years together. You’re not going to have a group like that come through every year.”
Helping lead the team both on the court and off were senior captains Nuzzo and Johnson. The pair earned All-State honors and New Haven Register All-Area honors for their stellar play this year. Nuzzo was named to the All-Shoreline Conference First team and Johnson had a spot on the Second Team. Nuzzo and Johnson earned entered the Class S doubles bracket as the No. 2 seed and made it all the way to the finals before losing in an epic three set battle. After that, they went to the State Open Tournament where they lost in the quarterfinals. Coach Zawadski believes Nuzzo and Johnson are two of the best he’s coached.
“Not bad for a couple of kids who first picked up a racquet just before their freshman year. Losing in the state final in three sets isn’t a bad end,” Zawadski said. “Chris had a great year as far as singles goes. He had a hard, fast first serve; one of the better serves in the conference. Garrett was right there with him. Chris just had a little edge. Garrett was one of the more steady kids on the team. He improved on his backhand, and by the end of the season it was better than his forehand.”
Morgan’s other senior captains were Paddy Murray and Sean Arribas Cockley. Murray played the first half of the season at No. 3 singles and the second half at No. 4, while Arribas Cockley held the No. 5 spot and would sometimes slip into the No. 4 position depending on who was available.
“Sean had a great year. Going in he had a huge advantage because he was varsity since his sophomore year. He played over the winter, and that helped him,” said Zawadski. “Sometimes, he would move up to No. 4, and he had a good record there as well. He’s a real solid kid, and he spent time working with the younger kids. He definitely excelled in that role.”
Murray and fellow senior JP Nye traded positions in the singles rotation halfway through the season. The pair had a good friendly competition going to see who could have the stronger showing against the same opponents the second half of the season. Murray earned All-Shoreline Conference Honorable mention while Nye took All-Shoreline First Team honors.
“JP and Paddy each took their shot at No. 3, and they competed at practice. At the four spot, neither of them lost a match. They were battling it out with personal pride between each other. That’s a good thing,” said Zawadski. “Garret and Chris would battle, and JP and Paddy would battle. Some cases they were getting better competition at practice than in matches.”
As for the Doubles squads, the No. 1 duo was senior Liam Whelan and sophomore Zach Johnson. While their record could have been stronger, they still showed up when it counted, and both earned All-Shoreline Conference Second Team honors. In the Class S doubles bracket, the pair made it to the third round.
“Liam and Zach had a pretty good regular season. Their record could have been better, but that was on me a little bit,” said Zawadski. “Against the lesser teams I would give them days off and give younger players with less experience a shot. They lost seven matches all year.”
At the No. 2 position were senior Calvin Jackson and freshman Isaac Adler. Jackson played the role of mentor to help his partner along, and their relentless pursuit of the ball paid dividends.
“It worked out well with Calvin and Isaac. Calvin did a great job working on Isaac’s confidence. He came in a little nervous that he was younger than these seniors. Calvin made sure to help him and was supportive,” Zawadski said. “They ended up having a great season. They went 12-3. They had trust and moved well with together. They always have that mantra, make them hit one more ball.”
One of the biggest moments this year for the Huskies had to be when they earned their first win against a formidable Cromwell team. Morgan lost its first matchup with the Panthers and made sure that didn’t happen a second time.
“Our first time around, we got beat by Cromwell 5-2. I saw the look on the guys’ faces saying that this shouldn’t have happened<’ said Zawadski. “Then they were more honed in. The next time around we won 4-3, and our No. 2 doubles won an amazing third set. Garrett also had a three-set match that he won, and that turned his season around.”
As for the future, Morgan will have a tough time replicating this campaign in 2020. The Huskies will graduates seven seniors and six of them are mainstays in the lineup. Still, Zawadski knows that his younger guys are talented and they can certainly make it tough for their opponents.
“My hope every year is to make states. Looking at the teams out there, at one and two we might have trouble finding wins, but further down the ladder, we could be okay,” said Zawadski. “I doubt we’re 14-4, but I think we can make states. A lot will come from these younger kids They are hitting balls in the summer. We had three freshman letter this year, so that’s a significant step.”
From the Sidelines
The Morgan boys’ tennis team’s 2019 roster included senior captains Sean Arribas Cockley, Garrett Johnson, Paddy Murray, and Chris Nuzzo; seniors Calvin Jackson, JP Nye, and Jack O’Sullivan; juniors Thomas Baker, Nicholas Brussiere, Logan Cummings, Andrew Daly, Lucas Morello, Caleb Vath, and Liam Whelan; sophomores Sozon Albanis, Seamus Jenkins, Zach Johnson, and Alexander Urban; and freshmen Isaac Adler, Dan Bautista-Gonzalez, Brendan Daly, Tyler Greenhouse, Page Guptill, Tarik Hasic, and Declan Hayes.
Chris Zawadsi completed his ninth season as Head Coach of the Morgan boys tennis team this year.
Morgan’s wins this season came against Old Saybrook (4-3), Westbrook (6-1), Haddam-Killingworth (7-0 and 7-0), North Branford (2 wins via forfeit), Coginchaug (7-0 and 7-0), East Hampton (6-1 and 7-0), Old Lyme (5-2), Cromwell (4-3), and Valley Regional (7-0).
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