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Morgan White wanted to win a state title this season. He lost in the CIAC Class S tournament finals the previous two seasons. This was his senior year. It was now or never.
White fell short of his goal in his opportunity, losing in the Class S semifinals. But he was OK with it.
"I thought it was going to be a lot more (tough)," said White, who just graduated from Old Lyme High School.
"My college assistant coach, Torr Terranova (of the University of Hartford), he came to watch me. He said (after the loss), 'Think about it today and tomorrow, and then Sunday forget about it. And then Monday, look at what you could have done.' I was like, 'OK.' And then I thought that was cool. Think about it one day, then forget about it, and then look at what you can learn from it so it's not dragging on. Move on."
Losing was a rarity this season for White, The Day's 2013 All-Area Boys' Tennis Player of the Year. He won his third straight Shoreline Conference singles championship.
The Old Lyme Booster Club also gave him the Career Achievement Award.
"Morgan has been a thorn in our side for four years," Old Saybrook coach Larry Chapman said with a laugh. "We beat them this year for the first time in a long time (White missed the first meeting due to injury). Every time we'd lose to them, it would be like a 4-3 loss, and we'd never win when Morgan was playing.
"What makes him so tough is that he is so mentally tough. When he's losing is when he plays his best game. You can never count him out."
A state title was the one thing missing from White's resume. He and Conor Fallon reached the Class S doubles final his freshman year and lost 7-5, 7-6 (9). He moved on to singles his sophomore year and lost the state final to Griswold's Brandon Roode. He lost last season to Granby's Chandler Libby.
White was seeded second in this year's tournament. He won his first three matches in straight sets, and all but one set was 6-0.
Sixth-seeded Ferdinand Gelbrich of Housatonic Regional from Falls Village knocked White out in the semifinals. The German student won 6-3, 6-2. Gelbrich then beat top-seeded Libby, 7-5, 6-4, to win the title.
"Trying to win states definitely was a huge goal for me," White said. "Even though I didn't quite make it, I made some new friends going there.
"When I lost to (Gelbrich) in the semifinals, there was still that feeling of, 'I just lost. I can't win states anymore.' But still, I was happy for him. He was a great kid. He's a great player all-around, and a nice person off and on the court. I saw him at the Open. He ended up making it to the final and almost beat Bradley Orban (from Foran of Milford), who's crazy good.
"That's life, and I just have to look on and look forward to the University of Hartford and playing tennis there for four years. I'm excited about it."
White continues to heed Terranova's advice as he's thought about what he needs to improve on before joining the Hawks.
"My strokes right now, they're a little sloppy," White said. "My serve, I have to work on. My volleys. Definitely my net game. One of the things I'm working on is my offense. (I run cross country), so I'm really fast out there on the court. So I mostly played a defensive game. And then when I'm out there playing offense, yes, I can get to the balls, but I also have to have an offensive (game).
"I've been working on stepping into the ball, not really trying to go for the winners, but hitting the defensive shots. And then, when I get that chance, stepping up and hitting the winner."
Player of the Year - Morgan White (Old Lyme)
Shashwat Kala (Waterford)
Alan Luner (Waterford)
Suryansh Patel (East Lyme)
Chris Renaud (St. Bernard)
Nicholas Zuczek (St. Bernard)
Nipun Hewage-Matthew Chan (East Lyme)
Brian Buttrick-Luke Grabowski (Old Lyme)
Brett Pias-Tucker Murphy (Waterford)