Thomas Jefferson tennis team takes WPIAL opening-round win
Keegan Shudy was motivated when he took the court for the opening round of the WPIAL Class AA team tournament.
“I'm a senior, and I knew this could be my last match,” Shudy said. “I just wanted to do everything I could do.”
He did his part with a straight-set victory over Neshannock's Eric Salle.
The rest of the Jaguars helped him prolong his high school career at least one more day with a 3-2 upset over the previously undefeated Lancers on Monday at 4 Winds Racquet Club in Brady's Run Park in Brighton Twp.
“I thought that the close matches would be at second and third singles and in first doubles,” Thomas Jefferson coach Chuck Correll Jr. said. “People told me that their second and third singles kids were good, and they were right ... and then, they told me that their doubles never lose.”
It took a while, but Thomas Jefferson earned a key victory in the first doubles match as sophomores Rit and Sam Gupta outlasted Neshannock's Mark Bleggi and Ethan McCarthy, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, to clinch the match.
After winning the first set, the Gupta twins were up, 4-1, in the second and appeared ready to close out the Jaguars victory without the second doubles team even taking the court. But Neshannock (12-1) rallied to force the deciding third set.
“The kids are good players, but they're young. And when you're young, you're going to make mistakes,” Correll said. “They overcame their mistakes, and I think that's what really did it.”
Thomas Jefferson (11-2) looked poised to end the match early after Shudy made quick work of Salle, 6-0, 6-1.
“It was what I would have expected out of a team playoff,” Shudy said. “The strategy was just net attacking, hit and come up and get some volleys and overheads, and that was my plan.”
Soon after Shudy won, his partner and fellow fourth-place finisher in the WPIAL Class AA doubles tournament, junior Jake Mascaro, put the finishing touches on a 7-5, 6-3 win over Jono Acosta in the No. 2 singles match. That helped push the Jaguars into Tuesday's quarterfinals.
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.