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Mt. Lebanon native Catanzariti to play tennis at Texas A&M

| Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 8:39 p.m.
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Mt. Lebanon A.J. Catanzariti will play tennis at Texas A&M.

A.J. Catanzariti of Mt. Lebanon took a hard look into the future before signing a letter of intent with the Texas A&M University men's tennis team earlier this month.

Catanzariti, who also considered Ohio State, decided Aggie coaches would be helpful in preparing him for a professional career.

“(The coaches) really seem to know what it takes,” said Catanzariti, 18, a nationally ranked junior player who competed in four International Tennis Federation pro circuit tournaments this year. “They seem good in working with ranked players.”

Catanzariti was ranked 41st in the boys 18 age group by the United States Tennis Association last week.

Catanzariti, a high school senior enrolled in online courses, moved two years ago to train year-round at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md.

He will join a Texas A&M team that has a streak of 20 NCAA championship appearances.

The Aggies, seeded fourth, reached the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament at Mississippi in April.

Coach Steve Denton expects Catanzariti to contribute in singles or doubles.

“A.J. is solidly built and very physical,” Denton said. “He has durability.

“He beats (his body) without being injured a lot.”

Catanzariti, during visits home, trains at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Besides being nationally ranked, he is among the top players in the USTA Middle States section, which consists of players from Pennsylvania, Delaware, northwestern West Virginia and much of New Jersey.

“A.J. has been an outstanding player for a number of years,” said Mike Kennedy, Middle States director of junior competition. “He's a great representative as a player, and as an individual from a sportsmanship standpoint.”

Catanzariti, who plans to study business, will be the second member of his family to play in college.

His sister, Gabrielle, was a member of the women's team at Pitt the past four years (2009-13).

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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