Senior spotlight: Doubles partner pushed Quaker Valley tennis ace to new heights

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 | 6:01 AM

Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight a WPIAL spring athlete whose senior year has been cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Playing in as many postseason tennis matches as John Watters did during his time at Quaker Valley is a good way to build up rivalries.

But the way Watters sees it, his biggest rival, in one sense of the term, is his Zach Albert, the doubles partner he won a WPIAL championship alongside last season.

“I’d say the person who pushes me most to become a better tennis player is Zach,” Watters said. “Both of us kind of strive to make each other play better.

“We’re not fighting for any spot on the team. I don’t think anyone on the team has any kind of grudge or hatred for each other, but Zach and I push each other in a positive way to become better tennis players so we can destroy first doubles and stomp until we get to states. You could say it’s a good rivalry, and both of us getting better won’t hurt anybody.”

What’s your best memory playing tennis at Quaker Valley?

This might be surprising, but I think winning WPIAL doubles was my second favorite memory. My favorite is just barely winning in the first round of states and going to Hershey (in 2017). Our team was down 2-1 and second and third singles both ended up coming back to win and we ended up going to Hershey. I originally didn’t enjoy the team that much freshman year, but that brought the entire team together and made me enjoy that year almost as much as last year.

What’s your best memory as a sports fan?

I think it was going to the U.S. Open seven or eight years ago and watching professional tennis players in action. I didn’t see the big names like (Novak) Djokovic or (Rafael) Nadal or any of those guys, but regardless of their placement in the world rankings, it was cool to see professional players playing some amazing tennis. It really got me into the sport.

What’s the best way to avoid boredom when stuck at home?

A blessing is video games, and the fact that all of my friends can hop on and enjoy that without actually having to meet up physically. It’s staying social without having to leave your home. Other ways of entertaining myself, I’ve been hanging out with my family, reading books, doing online classes.

What are your college plans?

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not going to play tennis in college, at least not seriously. I might do club sports. I love tennis and it’s been a huge part of my life, but I’m going to college to get an education and I feel like if I play tennis at a varsity level, it would take up a lot of time. I want to put education first, but I won’t put the racket down forever, if that makes sense. I have five different schools that have accepted me. I’d say my first choice is Colby College. It’s a smaller school in Maine. It’s a strong school. There’s also Bucknell. Nothing’s in stone.

What do you plan to study?

I’ve considered two or three different things. I’m thinking about biomedical engineering, environmental engineering or environmental studies.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

I would have picked Steve Jobs, but he’s no longer with us.

It’s a hypothetical question. You could pick someone from beyond the grave if you’d like.

In that case, I’d totally say Steve Jobs. I feel like he’s an important figure to highlight that people are capable of anything. He was a very articulate and eloquent person. I think having him speak at graduation would be life changing.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

Don’t rush through high school. Take things slow. It’s kind of crazy that I’m graduating so soon. It feels like it was two years ago that I was a freshman, but no, it’s double that. It kind of flew by. If you take the right classes and talk to the right people and become friends with the right people, it can be some of the best years of your life.

Jonathan Bombulie is the TribLive assistant sports editor. A Greensburg native, he was a hockey reporter for two decades, covering the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 17 seasons before joining the Trib in 2015 and covering the Penguins for four seasons, including Stanley Cup championships in 2016-17. He can be reached at


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