State singles title ‘a great finishing touch’ for Fox Chapel’s Shymansky
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 | 5:05 PM
Robby Shymansky made it to the PIAA Class AAA singles final as a freshman, but he was prevented from capturing the gold medal he sought.
Three years later, the Fox Chapel senior was back in the championship match. This time, he was not to be denied.
Shymansky, one of a select number of players to compete at the state singles tournament all four years of a high school career, found himself at the top of the medals podium Saturday afternoon after defeating Great Valley junior Sameer Gangoli in three sets.
“I had gotten pretty close in previous years, so to finally get the job done, it felt great,” said Shymansky, who also owned finishes in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds in previous trips to Hershey.
“It’s a great finishing touch on my high school days.”
Shymansky said winning the title carried extra meaning when he was able to celebrate the accomplishment with his teammates.
Fox Chapel seniors Jay Kashyap and Brandon Wei also were in Hershey competing in the state doubles tournament, and singles teammate, senior Jared Nord, hit with Shymansky and helped him get warmed up for his matches.
Other teammates joined in when the crew in Hershey returned home.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help and support from my teammates and coaches,” Shymansky said. “We’ve been such a close team all year. They’ve helped make this experience so special for me. I wanted to make sure they shared in my celebration.”
With the celebration comes reflection on what Shymansky accomplished over the past four years both individually and with his team.
“I know that soon I will realize I won’t be playing any more high school matches,” he said. “I probably will feel a little sadness. But it’s been a great run, and I am so happy to be able to go out with a win in my final match.”
Shymansky became the first Fox Chapel boys singles player to win a state title since Harrison Lauer won it all in 1975.
“It’s crazy that we haven’t had a (singles) state champion since 1975, so it’s cool to be the next person to do it,” Shymansky said. “I never got a chance to meet (Lauer), but I’ve heard a lot about him.”
A goal of Shymansky’s was to prepare to the best of his ability in practice and play his best in competition. That hard work, he said, tied into the mission of being a leader by example for younger players both in and out of the Fox Chapel program.
“Everyone knows I work really hard, practice a lot and really love tennis,” Shymansky said. “Hopefully, there are kids who keep falling in love with tennis like I did and strive to want to win a state title.”
Fox Chapel coach Alex Slezak said he was grateful to witness both Shymansky’s talent on the court and his leadership both in and out of matches.
“He always worked hard and always gave his best,” Slezak said. “This was special for him because it was his senior year, and it was something that he really wanted to do. He felt the pressure, and the stakes were higher for him, but it was great to see him come out on top.
“Robby had a lot of help coming up in tennis with great mentors, and he realizes how important it is to give back to others that same way. He’s happy to do that and be able to set the bar high.”
Shymansky, who will join the men’s team at Yale in the fall, hopes to keep his game sharp this summer with tournament play. He plans to transfer from USTA juniors tournaments to events on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association college circuit.
A few men’s open tournaments also are on the docket.
“I want to get as many matches in as I can,” he said. “The results are not a big deal. I just want to go into the fall (at Yale) ready to play. We didn’t lose anyone. We should be pretty good, and I want to make the most of it.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .
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