Thomas Jefferson’s Maheshwari looks forward to PIAA singles tournament

Friday, May 3, 2019 | 5:00 PM

Yash Maheshwari, a talented junior athlete at Thomas Jefferson, repeated as a section champion and WPIAL finalist in boys tennis this season.

“Yash is one of the top players in WPIAL Class AA and has qualified for state singles for the second time,” said Chuck Correll, TJ’s veteran coach. “Yash has improved a lot this year. He is a lot stronger and uses that as a weapon. He is good at the baseline; he sets up his shots really well.”

Maheshwari, a junior, faced Indiana’s Zachary Palko in this year’s WPIAL championship round April 23 at Mt. Lebanon. Palko, also a junior, won 6-2, 6-2.

Maheshwari, who was the top seed in Class AA, reached the finals by socking Central Valley’s Ryan Hardek and Valley’s Michael Saliba by 10-0 scores in the tournament’s first two rounds.

Maheshwari advanced to the championship round after beating Valley’s Michael Odrey in straight sets in the semifinals at Greensburg Raquet Club. Palko, seeded No. 2, defeated Quaker Valley’s Andres Hubsch also in straight sets in the other semifinal.

The top three WPIAL finishers will compete in the PIAA tournament May 24-25 at Hershey Racquet Club.

“Overall I’m happy with my performance this year,” Maheshwari said. “Even though I got second again in the WPIAL, I’m very excited for states. I’ve learned not to dwell on losses but to look for improvement, so in future matches I can play at the level I need to in order to get the results I desire.”

Maheshwari, 17, is the lone junior in the TJ boys tennis program. He has enjoyed a tremendous career so far with the Jaguars.

• As a freshman, he ended up second in the section in both singles and doubles, and won a first-round match in both WPIAL singles and doubles.

• Last year, Maheshwari was unbeaten during the regular season, won a section title and finished as the WPIAL Class AA runner-up.

• This season, he posted another undefeated regular-season record, captured his second section championship and finished as WPIAL runner-up. He dropped only three games all season en route to winning this year’s section crown.

“I went undefeated in section play,” Maheshwari said, “and in all my exhibition matches with triple-A schools, as well. I lost in the (WPIAL) final but still get the opportunity to try to win at states.”

Maheshwari fell to Sewickley Academy’s Arjan Bedi in the WPIAL finals last season. Sewickley Academy moved up to Class AAA this year.

The highly-motivated Maheshwari practices year-round at the Rashid Hassan Elite Tennis Academy, located at Edgewood Country Club.

“I practice with some of the best players in the country,” he said.

And Maheshwari, who has a sparkling 4.0 GPA, hopes to continue his tennis career in college at the Division I level.

“My goal is to go to an ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) school,” he said. “I feel there are many schools in the conference where I can excel academically and athletically.”

As a team, TJ repeated as section runner-up in 2019, finishing second to South Park. Mt. Pleasant zeroed in on third place and Greensburg Salem placed fourth.

“I’m happy and disappointed with our team’s performance,” Maheshwari said. “We finished second in the section again, as we’ve lost to South Park in back-to-back years.”

Maheshwari, freshman Drew Dimidjian and senior Ryan O’Leary are the Jaguars top three singles players.

TJ seniors Andy Griffiths and Chad Gress won the section doubles championship; Dimidjian and O’Leary placed third.

Colin Ruggeri and Isaiah Gathala, both seniors, bolstered the Jaguars in the doubles category.

The top four finishers in the section — all WPIAL qualifiers — consisted of Maheshwari, Dimidjian, and two South Park team members, junior Stone Ellis and sophomore Joey Toth.

Griffiths and Gress rallied past Ellis and Toth, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the doubles finals.

“This has been one of the more interesting seasons I have coached in my 35 years (at TJ),” Correll said. “We’ve had to withstand several injuries and illnesses. Because of this, we’ve had to use several substitutes. Four (underclassmen) were instrumental for us.”

That quartet consisted of freshmen Tony Sparta, Luke Georgulis and Nick Muffi, and sophomore Roman Ruscitto.

“All four will be important players for TJ in the future,” Correll said.


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