A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Valley’s Nicholas Bussard

Monday, April 17, 2023 | 10:44 AM

While growing up, hockey was the sport of choice for Valley senior Nicholas Bussard.

A few years ago, he traded in slap shots for drop shots, and the results have been impressive.

One of the top high school tennis players in the A-K Valley, Bussard recently finished second in the Section 1-2A singles tournament.

“I think the key to my success was my determination,” said Bussard. “I never let off the gas and left pressure on my opponents.”

Nicholas is the son of Jodi and Scott Bussard. He is a part of the French club, ski club and National Honor Society. In addition to his appearance in the section singles finals last month, he is also a section doubles champion, a three-time WPIAL singles qualifier and a two-time WPIAL doubles qualifier. He has been playing tennis competitively for the past four or five years.

“I’ve been playing tennis for most of my life recreationally,” said Bussard. “I originally played hockey for 11 years until I made the switch to tennis. I liked the fact that it was more of a sport where you could dictate the outcome on your own.”

Bussard took some time out of his day to sit down and answer a couple questions for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:

You finished second in the section singles tournament. How did that feel, and what was your mindset throughout the tournament?

It felt really good considering my (semifinal) opponent, August Lawrence (of Latrobe), beat me a few weeks before. I tried to keep my head clear during the match to try and stay steady throughout it.

How did it feel to play such a close match in the finals? (Latrobe’s Josh Havrilla won 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (6).)

It was honestly pretty fun. Obviously I would’ve wished for a better outcome, but the match was so close that there wasn’t much more I could do. In the end, one of us had to win and one had to lose, and I unfortunately was on the wrong end of it, but it was probably the best match I’ve ever been a part of.

What sort of things did you learn from the section tournament that will help in the WPIAL tournament?

I learned that I need to limit my mistakes and also capitalize on my opponent’s mistakes more often.

This is your third appearance in the WPIAL tournament. What types of things did you learn from the last two trips to the tournament?

Everyone at the tournament is a very good player, anyone can beat anybody at any time and you’re never going to have an easy match.

How do you feel the WPIAL tournament will go, and what is your end goal?

I think it’ll be tough as there are a lot of great players, and I will need to be on my “A” game to have good results. My goal is to just do the best I can and see if I can make a deep run.

Do you prefer doubles or singles?

I prefer singles due to the fact that I control my match on my own without having to rely on anybody. Growing up playing hockey, I had to rely on a large group of guys to work together to win, so it’s a nice change of pace.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to Novak Djokovic. He’s known for being very dominant, and he’s great at having a good mindset while playing. He comes back in matches while being down two sets. I try to mimic my game after him.

What type of advice would you give to anyone wanting to try tennis?

I would say that you have to have fun with it. Tennis is a hard sport, mentally and physically, and if you take it too seriously and don’t have fun with it, you are going to get burnt out very quickly.

Tell me a little bit about your fellow seniors and what makes your class stand out.

We are a tight-knit group. We know that we are looked up to, so we try to put out a good example and be good leaders.

What does leadership mean to you as a senior?

These last few years, we’ve always had a great group of senior leaders guiding us in the right direction. I’ve tried to replicate that in hopes of keeping us focused on our goal.

What do you believe is your biggest strength?

I think my biggest strength is my mental control. I try never to let my opponents see when I am rattled, and I push through even when I’m having an off day.

What are your future plans?

My future plans are currently undecided. I want to go to college and hopefully play tennis.

What is your favorite tennis memory?

My favorite tennis memory is the year after we lost our season to the pandemic, we went undefeated and won the section in my “first year.”

What is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with your teammates?

One piece of advice is you have to have fun while playing. You still need to stay locked in and focus on your goals, but it’ll all seem cumbersome if you aren’t having fun with it.


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