Westmoreland County Senior Spotlight: Latrobe’s Josh Havrilla
Monday, April 17, 2023 | 10:46 AM
Often, when a high school athlete plays two sports, they are in different seasons.
For Latrobe’s Josh Havrilla, both of his passions happen to fall at the same time.
Havrilla, who’s played tennis and volleyball together the last two springs, is certainly busy, but it’s not a big deal for him.
“Luckily, tennis is right after school and volleyball is in the evening,” Havrilla said. “I am really thankful to both my volleyball and tennis coaches, as well as my teammates, for being so understanding and supportive.”
The success started flowing for Havrilla in his first year of high school tennis, as he participated in the section singles tournament and qualified for WPIALs.
This year, he not only participated, but he won a section title.
In the finals against Valley’s Nicholas Bussard, Havrilla won the first set, lost the second and then came back to win the final set in a tiebreaker.
“I was really proud of myself and just overwhelmed with happiness,” Havrilla said. “It meant even more because it was a tight match and I had to come back to win the championship.”
Not only did Havrilla have to fight back in the final match, but that was the story of the tournament, as he came in as the fifth seed.
“I did view myself as sort of an underdog for the fact that a lot of these kids have had lessons and devoted themselves strictly to tennis,” Havrilla said. “I think that having played so many matches with my competitive family rather than lessons helped me with my nerves because it simulates these match situations.”
Havrilla is planning on attending Saint Vincent to play tennis and volleyball along with majoring in data science.
This week, Havrilla took some time for a Senior Spotlight Q&A:
How did you get started with tennis?
My interest in tennis started from my mom, who played tennis at Seton Hill College. She and I started going to play at the courts near our house, along with my family, when I was young. Having a big family of seven, it’s always easy to find someone to play a match with.
What are the similarities and differences between tennis and volleyball?
Tennis and volleyball are similar in the way that both require you to be mentally strong because when you make a mistake, everyone knows it was you. Also, one mistake can be the difference between a win and a loss. There is a cross between some skills as well, such as a spike in volleyball is similar to an overhead smash in tennis, or a tennis serve is similar in some ways to a volleyball serve. They are also very different too because tennis for the most part is an individual sport and requires you to hype yourself up, while volleyball is a team sport and you rely on the people you play with a lot more.
What did you learn from last year’s singles tournament that helped you this year?
Last year was my first year of playing in high school tennis, so it really gave me the confidence to know that I can compete with other players with more experience. Another thing I learned was that seedings don’t really mean much if you play your best, and at some point, everyone is talented. I was an underdog last year at qualifiers, too, so my mindset from last year carried over to this year. I also felt more prepared going into the WPIAL singles tournament this year because I know how tough the competition is, and I feel more prepared to make adjustments when necessary.
How much do you watch tennis and what is your advice for younger players?
My family and I like to watch the Tennis Channel. My favorite tournaments to watch are the majors like Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Some of my favorite players to watch are Coco Gauff and Taylor Fritz. My advice for newer tennis players is to have fun playing matches with friends and family and use these matches to develop the skills and mental strength necessary to succeed in tennis.
What is one thing that people may not know about you?
I come from a very athletic family. We like to play all kinds of sports including basketball,volleyball, tennis and golf. I carry a St. Sebastian medal with me to every volleyball and tennis match and my faith along with my family is what keeps me level headed.
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