Thomas Jefferson's Mascaro served early exit at state tennis singles
HERSHEY — Jake Mascaro booked some time at Hershey Racquet Club on Thursday so he could get a feel for playing at the indoor facility before his PIAA Class AA first-round singles match against Lewisburg senior Ben Koch.
What the Thomas Jefferson senior didn't expect during his two-hour workout with Bentworth's Matt Lynch was that Koch would be working out in the court next to his.
Even though Mascaro got a long, hard look at the competition, it didn't help as Koch walked off with a relatively easy 6-2, 6-2 victory Friday that eliminated the WPIAL runner-up.
“I dropped a few service games, which really hurts because I pride myself on my first serves,” Mascaro said. “When those weren't going in, it forced me to play defense when I was serving, and that's hard to play through.”
Mascaro, who also had a problem with his service game in the WPIAL finals against Vincentian sophomore Derek Chen, held serve only twice in eight tries in the match.
“His first serve was not on. It was not working. He was hitting his first serves long, and his second serve was so short it was putting him on the defensive all the time,” Thomas Jefferson coach Chuck Correll said. “(Koch) wasn't rushing the net on that second serve, but he would put Jake in a corner and then run him and, when you're supposed to be on the offense on your serve, Jake was on defense.”
Even though Mascaro had problems with his service game, he led early in the first set as both players went through a feeling-out process. Mascaro shrugged off two double faults in his first service game — he finished with six in the match — and a break point to hold serve, then he broke Koch to take a 2-1 lead.
It was the only time Mascaro held the lead, however, as Koch broke serve as part of a five-game run to finish the first set.
He extended his streak to six games in a row when he held serve to start the second set, 1-0.
“Starting off, everyone's going to be nervous and that's exactly how I was,” Koch said. “He played a great match as well, but it just took me a while to get into my game and, in time, I found it.”
Mascaro wasn't the only WPIAL Class AA singles representative who failed to advance as, for the fourth time in five years, none of them won a match in the state tournament.
Chen fell to David Rodenhizer of Towanda, 7-5, 6-4, and Lynch lost to District 6 champion Isaac Eck of Juniata, 6-0, 7-6 (7-5).