Matthew Morgan, a junior at Snow Canyon High School, was raised on tennis. When he was just a preschooler Matt’s father, Earl Morgan, took Matt along with him when he played with his morning tennis group. “I’d take him to tennis in the stroller,” Earl remembers, “and when he got a little bit older, when we’d cross over and sit down and rest for a minute, he’d run out there and hit with somebody a little bit. That’s where he really got introduced to tennis.”
All of Matt’s family members, which include himself, his parents, and two older brothers, are avid tennis players. Matt’s father believes receiving recognition for his talent at a young age encouraged Matt to stick with it.
“Him and his brother were in a newspaper article when they were in grade school,” Earl says. The whole family had played in the Utah Summer Games in Cedar city and won several gold medals between them. “They interviewed us and the kids got their picture in the paper.”
The article hung on a bulletin board in their elementary school in Santa Clara for several years, a daily reminder of the family’s success. “I think that is what really got them going in tennis,” Earl says, “the fact that they had that gold medal at age 8 or 9, and so they kept playing.”
But at first tennis was not Matt’s only love. “I played all sports and then narrowed it down to soccer, baseball, and tennis, then just baseball and tennis. Then when I figured out that baseball and tennis are the same season in high school I quit baseball for tennis.”
Why did Matt choose tennis over the other sports? Because he likes the challenge. “I’ve played other sports, and Tennis is the most difficult sport in my opinion.”
Now Matt plays tennis exclusively, and plays it year round. When the Snow Canyon team is off season, Matt competes in United States Tennis Association (USTA) tournaments. These tournaments take him to different locations throughout Utah, Nevada, and Colorado. Matt enjoys the opportunity to travel. “The tournaments are fun because you’re in a different town,” he says, adding, “You get to eat out a lot.”
Last May Matt competed in a memorable tournament in Salt Lake with the Snow Canyon team. “It was the first time his school has ever won the state championship,” says Earl. “Matt was number one in singles.”
Matt is currently ranked second in his age group in Utah. In the mountain regain, which includes Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, Matt is ranked 21st. Matt was also named one of the “Hot 100” on tennisrecruiting.net. This is a list of the tennis players who have improved the most each month. “I was on that list, and for the whole United States for that month I was number 11.”
Although Matt is dedicated to his game, he admits that playing year round can have its challenges. “In tennis you get burn out a lot,” he says. “I would play up to five hours a day when I had a set hitting partner. The repetition can get boring, and so I would get burn out every once in a while.”
In order to overcome the challenge of burn out, Matt says he would have to remind himself of his main goal of progressing in the tennis world, adding, “Sometimes you gotta just get through it.”
“I feel that when I get into the college level, tennis will really benefit me because tennis is all about repetition and mental strength.”
Matt doesn’t believe repetition is always a negative thing. In fact, it is often what makes tennis so enjoyable. He says it’s nice to be able to not think and just play. “Once you get caught up in the repetition, it just seems like time flies,” Matt says, adding, “Time flies as you are going over your strokes and practicing your shots. It’s all about muscle memory and doing it right.”
This muscle memory has become so much a part of Matt that he has to be careful when playing other sports as it will often result in injuries. Matt has a vivid recollection of one such time. “I was bowling, and since you’re a tennis player you have a repetition of moving your arm a certain way, and if you’re trying to do that with a bowling ball . . .” That game resulted in a sprained wrist two days before he left for a tournament in Colorado. “So I have to bowl left handed,” he says, adding that he also plays ping pong left handed.
Although Matt devotes much of his time to tennis, he is by no means a one-act wonder. He plays the cello, base, and ukulele, and he sings with the Snow Canyon High School Madrigals.
Another talent Matt has is to create unusual things and document the process on Snapchat. “I love snapchat. I make a lot of random items,” he says. One such item is a custom ping pong paddle with an extra-long handle. “I cut a wooden tennis racket, and then I got my ping pong paddle and sliced it up and attached it to the tennis racket. I snap-storied the whole process.” Earl mentions another snap-story Matt created when he redecorated his room, which included using rebar as a curtain rod.
As a junior in high school, Matt does not yet have definite plans for after he graduates, other than serving a full time mission for his church. After that, he is hoping to play tennis for BYU or Utah State University.
He believes his experiences playing tennis will help him in his college career. “I feel that when I get into the college level, tennis will really benefit me because tennis is all about repetition and mental strength,” he says, noting that mental strength and repetition will be useful when it comes to studying and taking exams.
Matt’s dedication to excellence in his sport has also taught him how to determine what is most important to him. “I feel like sacrificing time into one thing kind of prioritizes your true desires,” he says. “You’ve got to sacrifice other things for what you think will benefit you most. And you’ve got to sacrifice some things so you can gain other things.”
Matt’s personal motto will also serve him well throughout his life. “In tennis, you lose a lot and it’s mostly put on yourself,” he says. “So my slogan is: ‘you lose to learn, and you learn to win’ and that can apply to everything in your life.” Matt says you shouldn’t look at failure in a negative way, but rather acknowledge it, learn from it, and then improve yourself.
Earl sums his son up very well when he says, “It just seems like what he attempts to do, he really does it. He’s just a doer.” Earl adds, “My wife and I are really in awe of him.” It isn’t hard to see why. • HSSI