If this reporter were to attempt to write this story in Luca Alvisi’s native language, the headline above would read as follows – and I’m quoting the Google English-to-Italian translation guide – “Italian exchange student helping CMR to stay undefeated.”
Alvisi, a junior at CM Russell High School, is a foreign exchange student from Italy. And when it comes to athletics, he has two loves: soccer and tennis.
And right now, with the spring sports schedule in full swing, the Rustlers tennis team is benefitting from his play. At the No. 2 singles spot, Alvisi has not lost a match this season. Thanks to Alvisi and his teammate at No. 3 singles, Clay Walker – also undefeated – the Rustlers are 13-0 in dual matches this year after wins over Bozeman High and Bozeman Gallatin.
The Rustler boys are headed into the final week of the regular season in good shape. Tuesday, they head to Kalispell to take on Flathead and defending state Class AA champion Glacier. On Thursday, it’s Crosstown against Great Falls High at the CMR Tennis Courts.
Alvisi is enjoying his time on this side of the pond. Prior to this season, it had been “five, six years” since he had been able to play tennis on his native soil.
“I have always liked tennis, and I played both soccer and tennis, but about five or six years ago, the (schoolwork) became too much, so I had to make a choice,” Alvisi said. “And I chose soccer.
“I’m happy that I can play right now. I like my teammates, I think we have a good shot this year; we’ve been doing pretty good so far.”
Against Bozeman, last year’s state runner up, Alvisi scored a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Pau Casas, then stopped Emerson Fry of Gallatin 6-love, 6-love, and helped set the tone as the Rustlers downed the Hawks 7 -1 before dispatching the Raptors 5-3.
The secret to Alvisi’s success in the wake of not playing competitive tennis for such a long time is something Allen Iverson wouldn’t want to hear: PRACTICE.
“I can say that I’ve been working pretty hard in practice,” he said. “Carson (Rich, CMR’s No. 1 singles) has been helping me get better every day; he’s a really good player, too.
“We are all looking forward to divisionals and state. Next week we have Kalispell and Great Falls High, and we are looking forward to finishing the season undefeated.”
Walker continued his roll, taking down Bozeman’s Evan McKinley in straight sets of 6-1, 6-1, then took care of the Raptors’ Wynn Wagner 6-2 and 6-3.
The top three doubles teams for the Rustlers – Carter Corn / Josh Stimac, Noah Stimac / Brady Pike and Brady Corn / Aedan Bingham – also scored two wins each.
CMR head coach Byron Boyd noted that this weekend was Bozeman’s prom weekend, and the Hawks’ coach told him several of his top players had to miss Saturday’s matches, leaving JV players to fill the open slots.
MEANWHILE, THE RUSTLER GIRLS are on a roll of their own in downing the Lady Hawks and Lady Raptors by identical finals of 6-2.
At 12-1, the CMR ladies also head into the final week of regular season competition having to feel pretty good about themselves. They finished in a tie with Helena Capital for fourth place in 2021, just four points out of the hardware.
Grace Kaufman, Kiera Richards and Lia Steulpner, the Lady Rustlers’ Nos. 2, 3, and 4 in singles, each won both of their matches, as did the doubles duos of Mackenzie Tuss and Parker Humble at No. 2, and the No. 3 team of Olivia Buckingham and Leslie Miller.
FOR GREAT FALLS HIGH’S teams, 2021 has been a learning process.
Just a couple of days after knocking off Belgrade, the Bison boys could only get one match win and lost 7-0 to Gallatin and 6-1 to Bozeman.
The No. 1 doubles team of Copper Reitz and Connor Sturgess outlasted the Hawks’ top duo of Oliver Ward and Henry Riendeau 6-3, 6-4 for the only win of the day.
The Lady Bison, however, helped ease the sting by tying Bozeman at 4-all after Gallatin walked past the GFH girls 7-1.
Sharidan Skerritt and Linley Little earned the win in No. 4 doubles against Gallatin, but against the Lady Hawks, Brooke Dailey and Crista Holland earned wins at No. 3 and 4 singles, with the pairings of Emma Tolan and Delia Toon (No. 1 doubles) and Ellah Dake and Alyx McAdam (No. 4) also victorious.
Tuesday’s matches at Kalispell begin at noon. Thursday’s Crosstown Match begins at 4 at the CMR Courts.