New lineup spurs Clay boys tennis team

Mark Griffin

New blood has given Clay’s boys tennis team a huge boost this season.
        Coach Walt Ralph’s squad added freshman Will Horvath to the lineup this season along with junior exchange student Borna Jurais. Through Monday, after a 4-1 win over St. Francis de Sales, the Eagles were right in the thick of the Three Rivers Athletic Conference race.
        Ralph said Horvath’s presence “changed the whole dynamic of our lineup.”
        “He’s strengthened our lineup a great deal,” Ralph said. “Todd Gyurke, who played first singles last year, is playing third singles this year. Having Todd playing third singles has been terrific. He’s got a real mature sense of how to play singles tennis now. Playing in that third singles spot, he has all kinds of good wins for us.”
        The Eagles went into Wednesday’s non-conference match against Rossford with a 10-5 record, including 5-1 in the TRAC. Clay has beaten conference rivals St. Francis de Sales, Fremont Ross, Whitmer, Lima Senior and Central Catholic; its lone loss is to defending TRAC champion St. John’s Jesuit, by a 3-2 margin.
        Horvath improved to 15-5 at first singles with a win over St. Francis on Monday.
        “He is solid and he doesn’t play with a great deal of power, but he has a knack of taking power off the ball if he has to,” Ralph said. “If somebody tries to beat him with power, he has a sense of cutting that power and using a slice. If a player plays too soft to push him, he has the aggressiveness to make them pay for that. He has a really good all-court game and he definitely takes (tennis) seriously. He’s all in.”
        Jurais, a native of Croatia, has a 9-7 record at second singles.
        “He started hitting with Todd in the fall, and so Todd kind of recruited him to be part of the team,” Ralph said. “He’s been a great addition, helping to shift everybody down a couple spots. He likes to hit big serves and he would much prefer to play against players who try to hit with some power.”
        Gyurke, a senior who also plays soccer, improved to 15-3 after a win over St. Francis.
        “He’s so much more mature this year,” Ralph said. “His first three years, he really tried to play with too much power, especially when he got moved into first singles. He was hitting the ball harder than he needed to. He’s calmed down and has a better sense of how to play a point. He understands all the tools of a tennis player and he’s got ‘soccer feet,’ so he’s able to get to a lot of balls.”
        Clay’s first doubles team consists of sophomores Trenton Moore and Easton Snyder, who have won 11 of their first 15 matches together. Moore played at second singles last year.
        “He played as a freshman and never really had played competitive tennis,” Ralph said. “He has a lot of natural ability and he probably has as good a serve as we have in doubles players. He makes a good teammate with Easton. They mesh well together.
        “Trenton is a taller kid and has a strong net presence. Easton is a hard worker who started playing tennis about a year ago. I would describe him as solid. He doesn’t beat himself or over-hit himself into mistakes. They’ve had a lot of good wins; they’ve won at Perrysburg, St. Francis and Ottawa Hills.”
        The Eagles’ second doubles team consists of seniors Blake Hornyak and Justin Lutz. Those two played first doubles last season and have a 9-7 record this spring.
        “They are veterans who have put in the time,” Ralph said. “They have a strong sense of how to play doubles. When they’re on, they move around and communicate nicely. It’s nice to have that experience playing in that second doubles slot.”


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