Valley senior Schrecongost embraces tennis potential
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From his coaches, parents and friends, Valley senior Cody Schrecongost has heard the same question frequently this school year: Which sport will he play in college?
Schrecongost, a standout in soccer, swimming and tennis, still lacks a solid answer, though he admits he'll probably stay away from a pool.
The WPIAL Class AA singles tennis championships, which begin 1 p.m. Monday at Shady Side Academy, might play a part in shaping Schrecongost's options. A strong run in the tournament, something that has eluded Schrecongost the past two seasons, will spark college interest and solidify the senior's confidence in his abilities.
“I was more dedicated (to tennis) this offseason, because I was disappointed last year at WPIALs that I didn't make it to states,” said Schrecongost, who lost in the quarterfinals in 2013 and 2012.
The top three players in Class AA advance to the PIAA championships. If Schrecongost reaches the semifinals, he guarantees himself a spot in the consolation match, which is scheduled for Tuesday at Bethel Park.
Schrecongost started participating in offseason tennis training during the stretch between his sophomore and junior seasons. This past winter, he went with a new instructor, Shady Side Academy coach Tom Mercer.
“There was more time put in, more dedication, and everything was more to the point,” Schrecongost said. “I think I've evolved into a lot better of a tennis player. I wouldn't say I'm a pure tennis player, but I'm getting there.”
Schrecongost's deeeper appreciation for the sport is evident to everyone around him, Valley coach Rachael Link said.
“Cody Schrecongost has evolved as a tennis player since last season by leaps and bounds,” she said.
“All of a sudden, there's this newfound love for the game, where he's like, ‘Wow, I am exceptionally good at this,' and he wants to work for it. That's been a lot of fun to watch.”
Whether Schrecongost loves tennis so much that he'd choose it over soccer remains unclear.
He said he's considering attending either Bowling Green or Slippery Rock. He'd be a walk-on in either sport at either school.
“Everyone is holding their breath,” Link said of Schrecongost's college decision. “Cody has the best problem in the world. His academics will take him wherever he wants to play on a collegiate level. And with his (athletic) capabilities, he can play at a collegiate level for certain.”
For the first time in his three trips to the WPIAL singles tournament, Schrecongost, a three-time Section 4-AA champion, will head to the championships with a teammate by his side as senior Adam Barone also qualified after placing third in the section.
Valley last had two singles tournament qualifiers in 2009.
“I couldn't have really imagined a harder pathway (in the section tournament),” said Barone, a first-time section singles participant who upset No. 2 seed and former finalist Tom Spagnolo of Burrell 11-9 in the quarterfinals. “I figured it would be a good challenge, and I know I'll likely play that kind of competition at WPIALs.”
Like Link, Barone has noticed the increased importance Schrecongost places on tennis.
“It's gone from something he considered just fun to do to something that he really takes seriously,” Barone said.
“There isn't much you can do now against Cody other than try to be more consistent than him.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org via Twitter @BWest_Trib.
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