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West Ranch tennis pair has potential

Posted: May 28, 2014 10:18 p.m.
Updated: May 28, 2014 10:18 p.m.

West Ranch freshman Noah Morrow (left) has been playing singles most of the season for his team, but he partnered with junior Chris Gaw (right) at the end of the season. The pairing will begin play in the CIF-Southern Section Individual Tennis Sectionals doubles tournament.

From the outside, it would seem like West Ranch’s Chris Gaw and Noah Morrow are at a disadvantage going into today’s CIF-Southern Section Individual Tennis Sectionals.

The two have only partnered up for four matches this season, all coming in the Foothill League doubles tournament.

And while they won the doubles championship over Valencia’s Sam Rebele and Ravi Jayanthi by scores of 2-6, 6-3, 6-1, the level of competition they will face in sectionals is a substantial jump upward.

But what Gaw and Morrow lack in on-court experience together, they make up for with their off-court relationship.

“(Gaw) is my best friend on the team,” says the freshman sensation Morrow. “The very first time I met him it just clicked. We’re both really energetic, we both have a lot of energy and we’re both really dedicated and hard working.”

Morrow, who has been a singles player for the vast majority of the year for the Wildcats, says transitioning to doubles was a lot easier because of his and Gaw’s friendship.

The junior Gaw agrees, saying that their chemistry is strong.

“To be a good doubles team there has to be good chemistry,” says Gaw. “You can’t waltz on a court and expect to win. We’ve been working together a lot. It has to be like a machine when we get out there.”

Given the small sample size, it’s still not clear how smoothly the machine will be running when the two step on the court at Carpinteria High School today.

While Gaw is the more experienced player at the high school level, it’s actually Morrow who has more tournament experience. As part of the United State Tennis Association, Morrow has played in both singles and doubles tournaments.

That experience along with Gaw’s leadership could prove to be extremely valuable in sectionals.

“Noah has a lot of experience in doubles even though he didn’t play it a lot for us this year,” says West Ranch head coach Eric Spiecker. “And Noah really respects Chris as a person. If they play fundamentally sound, making their returns and serves, they’ll do great. They won’t get blown out no matter who they play.”

Gaw and Morrow’s pairing came about after Gaw’s original partner, Jonathan Y. Lee, left the team.

After that Gaw partnered with Nikhil Bhumralkar until the league doubles tournament when Spiecker gave Morrow the option of playing singles or doubles.

And while he prefers singles, Morrow decided to help his friend out and play doubles.

“I know much he wants to win,” says Morrow. “When (Lee) left it made us sad but coach gave me the choice and I decided to play with Chris.”

On the court, it’s all about tennis for Gaw and Morrow.

The same goes for off the court.

Gaw drives Morrow home from school almost daily.

They like to go to lunch together and generally hang out, but in the end they always circle back to tennis.

Even in their off-time they find themselves on the tennis courts.

“We’ll go to the gym and play a lot,” says Morrow.

That time playing together has given Gaw and Morrow insight into the other’s playing style and tendencies.

“Noah is very aggressive,” says Gaw. “He has some really heavy shots. He moves great and makes some shots that you can’t even believe.”

Morrow says they have been working on their placement of both their serves and returns to get ready for the tournament.

Communication was never an issue.

The time spent together either hitting balls or eating out has deepened their friendship and given the two a strong foundation to build on.

And with another year to keep building, the future looks pretty bright.

But for now the attention is on today’s sectionals.

“It would have been really great to get some more preparation but I fell like were ready,” says Gaw. “I’m going in with the mind-set that we’re going to take the whole thing. Noah’s a great player and I’ve got some experience. We’ll be up there.”


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