Senior spotlight: TJ tennis standout would like another crack at WPIAL title

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020 | 6:01 AM


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

If there’s a WPIAL tennis player who most hopes there is a season this year, it just might be Yash Maheshwari.

The Thomas Jefferson senior has been one of the top players in the area for years now. He’s a two-time defending section champ. A WPIAL title, however, has eluded him, as he has finished as runner-up each of the last two seasons.

“I’m more than anxious,” Maheshwari said. “I worked hard in the summer, the fall, really hoping for this season to happen.”

What’s your best memory playing tennis for TJ?

Probably going to states. I played a lot of high-level, state-level tournaments, but I never played in something like that. There’s (a lot) of players there, the best players in Double-A and Triple-A, a line judge for every match. USTA tournaments, they’re a lot of fun and they’re really great, but none compare to the state tournament. No matter how high of a tournament you play in Pennsylvania, not every match has a line judge like you do at states. Being able to travel with my coach and a couple of my friends, it was just a great memory.

What’s your best memory as a sports fan?

Earlier this year, end of January, me and my brother went to Australia for the Australian Open, and I was able to see my favorite player, Rafael Nadal, play. That was something special. I’ve been to lot of sporting events, but that was something else. I’ve been to the U.S. Open in New York, and that was crazy, but Australian Open, the venue, all the events they have besides tennis, being able to see Nadal play at center court, that was something.

Who would you say is your school’s biggest rival?

Definitely South Park. Sophomore year, we played them for the section title and we lost. Junior year, we played them for the section title and we lost. My team came second in sections both years. I really want to play South Park again.

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

I’m still able to play tennis. My personal coach canceled his classes, but my brother, he’s a really good player and we’ve been going to Schenley Park, which is the only available tennis courts that I know of, and we’ve been playing a couple hours there. Just in case the season’s there, still training and playing in shape.

What are your college plans?

Right now I’m between a couple of schools. I’m picking between UC-Irvine, UC-San Diego and Clemson. I’m not going there specifically for tennis, but when I’m there, whichever school, I’ll definitely try out for the team. I definitely want to just move on from Pittsburgh. I feel like there’s so many great colleges all across the country. I shouldn’t restrict myself to stay just in the Northeast or just in Pittsburgh.

What do you plan to study?

Probably going to major in mechanical engineering. My dad majored in engineering. I just want to go down the same path he did.

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

I would say Rafa Nadal. I’ve loved many great athletes – LeBron, Kobe, Messi, Ronaldo – but Nadal stood out. I always idolized him. If he could speak, I would love that.

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

I would tell them, ‘Don’t let anyone hold you back.’ If you want to travel the country to go to school, don’t let your parents or anyone say otherwise. Don’t let anyone stop you from reaching your dreams. Personally, when I started playing tennis, I wasn’t a huge fan. People told me to stick with it and eventually I’d like it and eventually it would work out, and it did. I would tell them to keep working in sports, in the classroom and in life in general.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review Assistant Sports Editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at jbombulie@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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