Thomas Jefferson's Mascaro falls in WPIAL tennis finals
Jake Mascaro, who came up with a pair of upsets in the quarterfinals and semifinals, could not come up with another. Fourth-seeded sophomore Derek Chen of Vincentian came away with a 6-1, 6-0, victory over the No. 7 seed from Thomas Jefferson in the WPIAL Class AA singles tennis finals at Lakevue Athletic Club in Valencia.
“I realized early on that the consistency game wasn't going to work because, as hard as he hit the ball, he was also consistent, so I have to hand it to Chen on that one,” Mascaro said. “I tried mixing it up and tried to find opportunities to come to the net. … I wasn't getting the balls deep enough and was hitting the angles, getting them to the sides and there was no chance for approach shots.”
Both players already had earned spots in the PIAA singles finals, which will be held May 24-25 at Hershey Racquet Club. The top two players in Class AAA and the top three in Class AA move on to the state championships.
Mascaro defeated the No. 2 seed, Cody Schrecongost of Valley, 10-6, in a pro-set match in Monday's quarterfinals, then ousted No. 3 Bargo Patel of Greensburg Central Catholic, 6-0, 6-2, in the semifinals at Keystone Oaks.
Tuesday's championship was the first match Mascaro had ever played indoors and his lack of experience under a roof cost him some of the strategy that helped him win the three matches he needed to make the final.
“When kids are used to playing indoors, kids have a distinct advantage because one of the things that was taken away from him was the lob,” Thomas Jefferson coach Chuck Correll said. “When he got in trouble, he couldn't hit the ball high enough, and Derek has a really good overhead. Jake couldn't hit the lob high enough or deep enough because he had never played indoors.”
With the victory, Chen became the first player not to win his section to come back and take the Class AA title since Alex Sinu of Quaker Valley in 2007. Josh Raymundo of Mars was the top seed in the Section 3 tournament and defeated Chen, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, in the final but had to withdraw from the WPIAL tournament after having an emergency appendectomy. Chen defeated No. 1 seed Matt Lynch of Bentworth, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-0, in a semifinal marathon Monday at Keystone Oaks.
“I just came out and tried to play like I did (Monday) and not make any mistakes and make him make all the errors,” Chen said.
Lynch earned the final state playoff spot when he defeated Patel, 6-1, 6-4, in the third-place consolation match.
Though all three have more than a month to prepare for the state singles finals, Mascaro might have the most work to do in that time. Because the state finals are played indoors, he will have to adapt quickly to playing with a roof over his head against some of the best players from the eastern part of the state.
“I'm going to try to get him a lot of matches, and I'm going to talk to athletic director Bill Cherpak about what we have to do, and we'll see what happens,” Correll said. “I'm going to get him a lot of matches indoors and work on that first serve because he's got to get that first serve in.”