TJ tennis coach's 2014 season a global experience
Thomas Jefferson's longtime tennis coach Chuck Correll guided the Jaguars to another winning season and a tie for the section title with Keystone Oaks this spring.
The TJ boys' varsity team included only two seniors, twins Sam and Rit Gupta, who played No. 1 and No. 2 singles and were paired for the WPIAL doubles championship.
Correll knew when the 2014 season began he would be unable to coach at the WPIAL doubles tournament due to a long-planned anniversary cruise with his wife, Carol.
But he left the team in the capable hands of TJ junior varsity coach, Marie Bartoletti, who sent daily text-message updates to Correll.
Despite his absence, the Gupta twins were able to represent the Jaguars well, winning in the opening round against Burrell, before falling to a strong Sewickley Academy tandem in the second round.
Correll is optimistic about next season thanks to the athleticism of several underclassmen who gained valuable varsity experience in 2014.
“The Gupta twins will be hard to replace,” Correll said. “Sam was so steady and Rit became so much more consistent this year.”
The No. 3 singles player for TJ this season was junior Kash Maheshwari.
Correll said Maheshwari would have played No. 1 singles on any other team and expects him to move into the Jaguars' No. 1 singles position next year.
“Kash is a really hard worker and he's a thinker. He has a strategy and a plan for every match,” Correll said. “And he doesn't shy away from playing anyone. Kash relishes a challenge and always thinks he has a chance to win.”
Among the Jaguars' team strengths this season was the athleticism displayed in the doubles competition.
“The kids at doubles are more athletes than they are tennis players,” said Correll, who has coached at TJ for 35 years.
At first doubles this year were two new lettermen in Cameron Sarber, a junior, and Jake Stock, a sophomore.
“Both have a strong net game,” Correll said.
Sophomores Falco Meden and Jake Radovic played second doubles and both lettered for the first time.
“They play a very consistent game using their athletic ability to overcome their opponents,” Correll said.
Fred D'Aserzo also played at a second doubles position for the Jaguars.
“Fred also lettered and played as a strong second doubles player,” Correll said. “He has a lot of potential.”
Correll was disappointed about missing the WPIAL doubles championships, but was confident Bartoletti could handle the team in his absence.
And the trip was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
When he and Carol made separate bucket lists, “a trip to Hawaii” appeared on both lists so they knew they had to go. The trip was planned to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, and the WPIAL schedule conflict could not be avoided.
The Corrells traveled on a Royal Caribbean ship, Rhapsody of the Seas. The two-week cruise included stops in Oaho, Maui and Waikiki, and one of the highlights for them was being able to wave a Steelers' terrible towel atop the Diamond Head volcano.
Chuck and Carel then traversed the Pacific for five days, visiting Victoria and Vancouver, Canada.
Now back at home, Correll already is looking forward to next year's tennis season and is planning to volunteer at the tennis courts this summer.
“These (TJ) guys are athletes. They just love to get out and compete,” he said.
Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer.