Thomas Jefferson's Mascaro advances to WPIAL singles finals
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Jake Mascaro didn't have his best service game working when he took the court at Keystone Oaks for the WPIAL Class AA singles tournament.
What the senior didn't have on his serve, however, he more than made up for with sheer tenacity and athleticism as the Thomas Jefferson senior pulled off a pair of upsets, including a 6-1, 6-2 win over third-seeded Bargo Patel of Greensburg Central Catholic in the semifinals, to become the first Jaguars singles player to qualify for the WPIAL finals since Scott Kahler won the Class AAA championship in 2003.
”I didn't know that, but it feels great,” Mascaro said. “It's better than anything I could have imagined. I didn't expect to get this far, but I played through it all and I'm excited for the finals.”
Mascaro, who also earned a spot in the PIAA Class AA finals May 24-25 at Hershey Racquet Club, will play fourth-seeded sophomore Derek Chen of Vincentian — who outlasted No. 1 Matt Lynch of Bentworth, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-0, in the other semifinal — in the WPIAL Class AA championship match at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny.
“What I see is that he has got to really be patient because (Chen) can hit better ground strokes than what he has been seeing and, on top of that, he's got to improve his first-serve percentages,” Thomas Jefferson tennis coach Chuck Correll said. “I think he can totally unravel everybody here because of his mental toughness.”
Getting to this point is a dramatic improvement for Mascaro, who was eliminated in the Section 5 quarterfinals in 2012. This year he easily won the sectional and went into the WPIAL tournament as the No. 7 seed.
“His net play is better, his overheads are better, his ground strokes are relentless and he's just so fast,” Correll said. “The thing about him is that he's an athlete as much as he's a tennis player. His opponents think that they're winning a point and, there were a couple of drop shots that his opponent thought he had, and (Mascaro) gets them because he's so fast and he has such long reach.”
His ability to frustrate an opponent by getting to balls that his foe thought were easy winners was readily apparent in his quarterfinal pro-set match against No. 2 Cody Schrecongost of Valley. Schrecongost regularly used cut-volleys and drop shots near the net in the thought there was no way Mascaro would get to the ball, but more often than not he made a return and set up a winner.
“My serve was really hurting me, but it was a game of stamina and keeping the ball in play, waiting for him to make mistakes and trying to come to the net when I could,” Mascaro said. “I was barely getting to the ball, trying to keep it in and, if I got a good approach shot off of it, I would stay at the net, but otherwise I was just going back to the baseline and played my game from back there.”
In the semifinal, Patel came out and broke serve in the first game, then lost the next six as Mascaro rolled to an easy win in the first set. Mascaro also led 5-1 in the second set before dropping a game and finally closed it out on serve to move into the finals.
And he already has a strategy in mind for when he faces Chen.
“I think I'm going to use more of a spin serve and try to get that in so they can't capitalize on the second serve as much,” Mascaro said. “I really just have to have faith in my second serve because, when I hit it too easy and try to just get it in, that's when it goes into the net.”
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ coach Tomlin downplays verbal spat with Bengals’ Nelson
- Rossi: Steelers season something to behold
- Steelers QB Roethlisberger not perfect but good enough
- Steelers beat Bengals, earn home playoff game
- Washington County homeowner fatally shoots assailant; second suspect arrested
- Steelers notebook: Opponents for 2015 are released
- Electronic eavesdropping: NSA reports on its privacy violations
- Steelers-Bengals game changers: McCain’s 2nd interception turns momentum
- Man dies following jump from bridge in Manor
- Penguins forward Hornqvist out for several weeks
- Tight Toomey-Sestak Senate rematch in Pennsylvania eyed in 2016