Division I soccer recruit Jashinski helps Shaler tennis contend for WPIAL playoff berth

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Friday, April 13, 2018 | 12:56 AM


Jake Jashinski was never destined to be one of the all-time tennis greats.

But the Shaler senior, who is committed to play soccer at Division I St. Bonaventure, wanted to be able to hold his own in the No. 1 singles spot.

There are times when Jashinski, who didn't play tennis before high school, realizes he can't fight tooth-and-nail for every point.

“It's a thing where you have to pick your spot,” Jashinski said. “A lot of the kids are a lot better than me, technically. You pick your spots, and when you see an opportunity you try and hit a shot that's a higher difficulty. Other times you have to play and keep the rally alive.”

Being able to dig in and score key points helped Jashinski score a come-from behind win and help keep Shaler (3-3, 3-3) in the Section 3-AAA playoff race. The Titans beat Baldwin, 3-2, following a 2-6, 7-6, 11-9 win from Jashinski.

In the third-set tiebreaker, Jashinski rallied from a 7-2 deficit to score the win.

“He's more than an athlete now,” Titans coach Brian Duermeyer said. “He's a tennis player. Once he figures a guy out, he makes the kid work. He did that last year quite a few times. … You can see he is more than just a good athlete out there. Now, he's developing a tennis game. He's playing the whole court and serving much better.”

Jashinski's challenge is facing every team's top player. Many have more of a tennis background then he does.

Approaching each opponent requires a different thought process.

“Sometimes it's tough, and sometimes you run into kids that come back at you with an even better shot, and there's nothing you can do about it,” Jashinski said. “You can only control what you can control and let everything else go.”

Shaler's chances of making the playoffs took a hit after a loss to Allderdice last Wednesday. The Titans, though, already have shown major improvement compared with last season.

Shaler already has exceeded its win total from last season.

“For starters, it feels a lot better than losing,” Duermeyer said. “Secondly, it makes a difference when you have six seniors in your lineup. All of these kids that took a beating as juniors are winning as seniors. We are playing competitive tennis, and it is contagious. My freshmen are excited. They are wondering how we are doing.”

Jashinski hopes Shaler will be able to sneak in.

“Just to be able to play in a meaningful match and a meaningful game, we all get hyped up for it,” Jashinski said. “We all want to get to the playoffs, but the odds may not be in our favor due to the teams we play. It's not going to happen that often, so we are all excited about it.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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