SPRINGFIELD >> It wasn’t surprising to see Lower Moreland advance two players to the District 1-2A Singles Championship, given the determination and talent level of both Joseph Kvint and Josh Arno.
What was surprising was to see Arno actually sneak a lob over the head of his 6-foot-8 teammate.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen anyone hit it over his head,” Lions coach Jeanette Hausman said with a chuckle afterwards. “That was kinda cool.”
Arno certainly had his moments in making a run to the district final as just a sophomore, and Kvint was the tournament’s towering gold medalist.
Kvint played his way to a convincing 6-0, 6-2 victory to earn his first district singles title and advance to states in his senior season with the Lions.
Later in the day, Andrew Tran would make Wissahickon history, becoming the first Trojan to advance to the District 1-3A Boys Final (May 12), courtesy of a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Council Rock North’s Dan Kleibhan.
Kvint completed his district journey on Saturday.
“It feels good. My goal was to win districts and make a run at states. It definitely is a big deal to me,” said Kvint, who came in as the No. 1 seed. “(What I was most proud of) was my mind.
“Winning (the Bicentennial Athletic League title) last week was big for me and I had a lot of confidence coming into districts, playing great players like Josh and guys from Holy Ghost, so I came in confident and my mind was there. I did my job.”
Evolution of a champion >> His older brother, Alan, getting him involved in the sport, Kvint first started swinging a racket when he was nine.
He would eventually play the No. 3 singles spot for Lower Moreland as a freshman and sophomore, helping the Lions reach the PIAA team tournament in 2016.
He was down in South Carolina last year, honing his craft.
“Joseph has come a long way,” Hausman said. “As a ninth grader, he was tall and thin, and gangly. Spending last year away, he really developed his footwork and his movement improved so much.
“He has some experience (at states) and should do pretty well. He’ll have a tough first-round match, but we’re hoping he can pull it out. If he does, he should medal.”
Kvint commanded every court he has stepped on in the postseason. He has tremendous overall skills — he’s headed to Purdue University Northwest — and uses his height to his advantage.
“Especially with my serve,” the senior said, “opening up the court with my serve and my volleys.”
Splendid sophomore >> Arno, the two seed, survived a three-hour marathon on Friday, advancing out of the semifinals with a 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (12-10) victory over teammate Caleb Burrows.
It was onto the final to face Kvint.
“Two good players always make it to the finals and that’s what happened today. It was a good match. I’m glad I got to play him,” Arno said. “I’m only a sophomore so I have two more years to grow as a player. Hopefully I’ll be in (Kvint’s) spot when I’m older.”
“It’s very nice for a sophomore,” Hausman said of Arno’s trip to the final. “He’s very competitive, always very competitive. And he’s had a good season playing against some tough 3A schools and had a tough semifinal match.”
Tran makes history >> Saturday provided some sweet redemption for Tran.
After making states as a freshman, he fell in districts last year to Kleibhan and did not reach PIAA’s. This year, he punched his ticket to states with a 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal victory over Lower Merion’s Justin Minerva, then squared off with Kleibhan in a district rematch.
“I was able to put a lot more returns into play and I was able to keep the ball a lot lower and stay aggressive instead of staying on defense the entire time,” Tran said of what made the difference this time around.
“It feels great. Coming into the weekend, I just wanted to try and qualify for states. So with this match, I was able to play a little bit more relaxed, knowing I was going win or lose.”
Tran, seeded second, has elevated his game substantially.
“He’s been playing in national tournaments so the level of competition he’s gone against has really jumped up,” Trojans coach Mark Daniels said. “He’s gotten physically stronger, hits a much heavier ball, and he’s faster.”
Tran, the first Trojan to win three consecutive Suburban One League American Conference titles, has also stepped into a leadership role this year for Wiss, as a junior captain. He’ll now get ready for a finals match with No. 1 seed Sameer Gangoli of Great Valley.
Said Daniels of Tran’s victories Saturday: “He deserved it. He’s been working hard this year.”
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