After a slow start, Fuggitti is serving Westminster well County singles champ aims for repeat in '93

April 12, 1993|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Contributing Writer

Tennis often served up frustration for Marco Fuggitti when he began playing at age 11.

His shots usually flew high, long or wide. His two-handed backhand packed little power. He did not love the game.

Times have changed.

Fuggitti stayed with tennis, made the Westminster varsity as a freshman and has become a dominant player in Carroll County. He won the county boys' singles championship last year and is aiming for a repeat in 1993.

Fuggitti started his high school career by playing some at No. 3 varsity doubles at the end of his freshman year. He jumped to No. 2 singles the next year and went 13-0 during the regular season, even winning a few matches at No. 1 singles.

Last year, Fuggitti stepped in at No. 1 and went 17-3, winning the county title by knocking off Brian Ninosky of Liberty, 7-5, 6-1 -- a player Fuggitti lost to twice during the season -- in the county championship.

Fuggitti started slowly in that match, falling behind 5-3 in the first set, but then won 10 of the next 11 games to take the title.

Starting slowly may be Fuggitti's Achilles' heel. He often takes awhile to get going, and that cost him in his 10-5 loss to North Carroll's Craig Eckard on Thursday in a possible preview of the county's singles championship match. Fuggitti -- who beat Eckard twice last year -- fell behind 3-0 and could not recover.

"I'm not sure why [it happens]," Fuggitti said of his slow starts.

"Maybe I'm trying to get pumped a little more to take them out of their game before they get on a roll."

One of Fuggitti's biggest strengths is versatility. He has several potent weapons.

Fuggitti boasts an improved serve, a powerful two-handed backhand and a good forehand.

He also plays aggressively, using a variety of shots and styles.

"Some style of play has always come through for him," Westminster boys coach Fran McCullin said. "Something has always presented itself . . . that would allow Marco to put the other player in a position he doesn't want to be in."

McCullin considers Fuggitti more of a finesse player. McCullin said he can play almost any kind of tennis.

The Westminster coach says Fuggitti is a tough competitor.

"You've got to have a kid that can come out there and consistently hit high quality shots for an entire match [because] Marco will not beat himself," McCullin said. "Marco will make you earn the points."

Fuggitti said he does not know what is the strongest part of his game. Being versatile, though, makes strategy difficult for his opponents.

"They're not sure where to hit it," Fuggitti said. "They don't know my dominant strength."

Fuggitti lacked strengths when he took up up tennis. Marco's father, Massimo, introduced him to the game after the younger Fuggitti showed interest. But when he struggled at first, baseball stayed his favorite sport.

He stayed with tennis, and his game started to take off when he entered high school. His father found out the easy way.

"I noticed I wasn't just feeding him balls any more," said Massimo Fuggitti, a designer of men's clothing. "I was running after them."

Fuggitti kept improving.

Even after last spring's championship, he kept working. Fuggitti entered seven tournaments last summer, winning four and finishing second in the others.

"He's a much more aggressive player now," Massimo Fuggitti said.

"He'll come after you now. He's gained confidence."

And he likes the game.

Times certainly have changed.

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