Thomas Jefferson’s Maheshwari shines in singles competition

Saturday, May 12, 2018 | 1:42 AM

Yash Maheshwari already has made a tremendous impact in the Thomas Jefferson boys tennis program.

And he still has two more years of high school.

Maheshwari, a sophomore, was a section champion and WPIAL Class AA finalist this season.

He finished undefeated in section play and at the section singles tournament.

“I have coached for 39 years and would rank Yash as one of the best three players I have ever had,” TJ coach Chuck Correll said. “He was our No. 1 singles player again this year, and he set very high goals for the season.

“Yash has a very consistent baseline ground stroke and a good kick-serve. He simply needs to get stronger, which should come with age.”

The 16-year-old Maheshwari, who used to play recreational basketball, said his forehand is the strongest part of his tennis game.

“My goal (this season) was to win the WPIAL and win the state title,” Maheshwari said. “I'm a little disappointed for getting second place (at WPIALs) but still happy I get to go to states and try to win the state title.”

Maheshwari, who has a 4.1 GPA, plays year-round at Rashid Hassan Elite Tennis Academy.

He said his biggest influence on the courts has been his brother, Kashyap Maheshwari, a former TJ tennis player, and his “favorite tennis player,” Rafael Nadal.

“Rafael Nadal is my biggest influence because of his will to win,” Maheshwari said. “Every single point he gives it his all, no matter if he's winning or losing.”

Maheshwari plans to continue his tennis career at the collegiate level.

“I want to play Division I tennis when I'm in college,” he said. “My goal would be to play at North Carolina or UCLA.”

Thomas Jefferson ended up second in section play with an 8-1 record, and 12-3 overall.

“We are pleasantly surprised at our results,” said Correll, who has coached at Keystone Oaks, Chartiers Valley, South Park and TJ in his career. “The team worked hard during the preseason and was much better than anticipated.”

Maheshwari was complemented by junior Ryan O'Leary and senior Shawn Radovic, the team's No. 2 and 3 players, respectively.

“Ryan also is a very good baseline player and has a good first serve,” Correll said. “Shawn was definitely the biggest surprise this year. A doubles player last year, he improved a lot and was our ‘X-factor.' His only loss came in the final playoff game of the season where he lost in a close third set.

“Besides Yash, Shawn became the most dependable player on the team. He won most of his matches because he is very athletic.”

A pair of juniors, Andy Griffiths and Chad Gress, competed at first doubles for the Jaguars.

“Both are tall and cover the court well,” Correll. “They will be a force for our team next year.”

Two seniors, Nico Stoicovy and Parker Rittiger, competed at second doubles.

“Both had a great year and worked really hard,” Correll said. “Nico is strong at the net, and Parker has a good serve.”

Correll already is anticipating a possible banner season in 2019, in what will be his 40th year of coaching.

“I anticipate another really good year next season because of the returning players and the experience from this season,” he said.

Rounding out this year's team at TJ were seniors Steve Ciechalski and Chris Piper; juniors Isaiah Gathala and Colin Ruggieri; sophomore Pratham Patel; and freshmen Nathan Mutale, Roman Ruscitto and Owen Zacharias.

The state tennis tournament is May 25 in Hershey.

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.


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