Arlington tennis player makes most of second chance at life
Taras McCurdie was adopted as an infant in Ukraine and wants to āmake every moment count.ā
Arlington boys tennis player Taras McCurdie makes the most of any opportunity presented to him.
Thatās because the Eaglesā senior was given the chance for a life with greater hope when his parents, Orysia Lutz and Bruce McCurdie, adopted him from an orphanage in Ukraine when he was just 13 months old.
āMy mom and dad picked me up and gave me a second chance to live a fun life, and thatās why, you know, through academics and athletics Iām pretty competitive,ā Taras McCurdie said. āIām trying to make the most of it. Iām not trying to waste it. God gave me this life. Iām trying to make every single moment count.ā
Taras was born in Kiyv, Ukraine, the Eastern European countryās capital. According to a study published in the Global Wealth Report in October, 2018, Ukraine ranked 123rd out of 140 countries in terms of citizenās median personal wealth. Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1992. Political tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been turbulent since, and pro-Russia groups in Ukraine have caused unrest over the past several years.
When Lutz and Bruce McCurdie decided to adopt, they looked to Ukraine, where Lutzās parents were born. They initially planned to adopt an older child but when Lutz came across Tarasā adoption profile, she said it was like āGod intervened.ā
āIt just put a stamp on my heart: āThis is your child,āā she said. āMy husband says, āI thought we were getting an older child.ā And I said, āThis is it.ā It was the most powerful feeling Iāve ever had.ā
When the couple met Taras for the first time at the orphanage, the connection was instant.
Lutz said Taras latched on to his fatherās collar and wouldnāt let go. He cried when the couple had to leave for the day.
ā(It) was kind of heartbreaking but in a good way because he just instantly wouldnāt let go,ā Lutz said. āThat happened four days straight.ā
āIt was quite an experience,ā Bruce said. āItās pretty tough to put into words.ā
Over the years, the couple has seen Tarasā drive to succeed in all opportunities heās presented.
āHe does everything with a passion. Everything is important to him,ā Lutz said. āOften itās like, āOK, itās not that critical. Letās chill.ā But heās driven and everything is important to him.ā
That drive has been evident in Tarasā development on the tennis court. He came out for the team as a freshman with very little experience and made the junior varsity.
Taras said at the time he pretty much just got by on the athleticism and conditioning he had developed playing soccer, which he plans to pursue in college. After spending a season on the boys tennis team, he decided to take lessons over the summer before his sophomore year. He credited his older teammatesā leadership and examples for pushing him to strive for more on the tennis court.
The training results were evident to Eagles coach Ben Mendro, and Taras made the varsity team as a sophomore.
āHe went from a run-of-the-mill JV first-timer to boom,ā Mendro said.
Heading into last season, Mendro wasnāt sure who his No. 1 singles player would be. Taras left him little doubt after the team started practicing.
āI had a number of guys (to choose from), and he just established himself from day one,ā Mendro said.
Taras rose to the occasion as Arlingtonās No. 1 singles player, earning the Wesco 3A North singles title before participating at the Class 3A Northwest District tournament.
He said heād like to defend his title this season, but his ultimate goal is to just have fun and soak in what will likely be his final season playing competitive tennis.
āAs long as Iām enjoying it with my friends, thatās all that matters,ā he said.
The seniorās drive to succeed is also evident in the classroom, where he holds a 3.9 grade-point average.
Taras has never had the chance to go back and visit Ukraine, but he said heād like to get the chance to visit and see where he was born.
āIād be able to keep a memory of it my whole life,ā he said.