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Doubles team wins sectional title

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: May 17, 2017 12:00 AM
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Neither one of them has a particularly powerful stroke.

And neither one of them played first singles during the regular season.

Regardless of such things, Hudson's doubles team of senior Nicci Polifrone and junior Sam Yurak are the Akron Division I sectional champs.

That became official when the two tennis players defeated Copley's team of TJ Bertsch and Doug Moore 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the title match May 12 at Springside Racquet & Fitness Club.

As a result of their performance, Polifrone and Yurak will be the top seed at the Akron district tournament, which is scheduled to take place May 18 at Springside.

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Polifrone and Yurak are set to play Avon Lake's pair of Aidan Shoop and Spencer Gray at 9 a.m.

"Hats off to the boys," Explorers head coach Tim Morgan said. "They played their hearts out and got it done."

Polifrone and Yurak were down 3-1 in the third set of the title match before rallying.

"They've done a good job of realizing that there is no clock out there," Morgan said. "They go point by point.

"We were stressing that this is the situation we want to be in. We kept emphasizing play the situation and take what's available."

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Polifrone, the team's captain, was able to pump both himself and Yurak up with a simple statement.

"Nicci coined the phrase, 'It's a great day to be great,'" Morgan said. "That would break the tension during a changeover. I think he is going to ride that phrase the rest of the season."

Polifrone and Yurak posted a 6-4, 6-2 win over Granger Township Highland's Evan Kuczynski and Kyle Yamat in the semifinals.

"We stayed in cross-court rallies," Morgan said. "We felt the other team would go down the line. We stayed home and took away the lines."

Polifrone and Yurak posted a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Wadsworth's TJ Lockwood and Carter Moore in the quarterfinals.

They also earned a 6-1, 7-5 win over Twinsburg's pair of Ryan Lecaros and Michael Sterling in the first round and a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Akron Archbishop Hoban's Alex Thomas and Kyle Surblis in the second round May 10.

As a result of their performances, Polifrone, who played second singles for much of the season, improved to 25-4 in 2017, and Yurak, who played first doubles for much of the spring, improved to 22-4.

Playing together as a doubles team, Polifrone and Yurak are 8-0.

"We kind of knew we had the fab four in Harrsha [Congivaram], Nicci, David [Tullett] and Sam," Morgan said. "There was very little separation between the four of them.

"Sam is one of the better doubles' players and Nicci did a great job of going back and forth between singles and doubles. They have great chemistry. They battle the opposing team and they fight for each other."

Both players also know how to shake things off when things don't go their way.

"They have a great belief in what they can do on the court," Morgan said. "They both have the attitude that they can come out on top in any situation.

"They don't get down. Their formula for victory is they make very few mistakes. In crunch time when it's game point or set point, they deliver balls in play. Neither one of them is very powerful, but they are opportunistic when it comes to using their power."

Since Polifrone and Yurak will enter district play as the top-seeded team, a trip to the state tournament seems inevitable.

But Morgan and his pupils will not take anything for granted the rest of the way.

"You still have to prove yourself," Morgan said. "Based on what they did at sectionals, their confidence is high. Whoever they play, they will give them a battle."

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