Kshatri, FitzMaurice enjoy friendly rivalry
Imagine chasing your dream and the one person standing between you and that dream is your best friend. That’s the situation that Parkland’s Nick Kshatri and Emmaus’ Matt FitzMaurice find themselves in when they face each other in high school tennis. The two have been friends for most of their lives and were brought together by their love for tennis.
The two attend rival high schools and are each the number-one player for their respective team. In the offseason, they play as doubles partners and finished fifth in the nation in Team Tennis Doubles last Summer. During the season, it’s all competition though as the two have battled both in conference matches and in postseason situations.
“It’s always tough to play Matt,” said Kshatri. “I’m so close to him. He’s my main practice partner, so it’s tough to play him from an emotional standpoint, but I do know his game really well and it’s always a good match when we play.”
Last Spring, the two met in the finals of the District 11 Singles Tournament, with the winner advancing to the state tournament. Kshatri had the better of FitzMaurice in the conference finals, but in districts, it was FitzMaurice that came out ahead. Such has been the story with the two rival friends, who have fought some classic battles on the court, but never off the court.
“He didn’t really start beating me until a couple years ago,” said Kshatri. “In the beginning, it was more clear. But now, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Neither keeps score on how many times they’ve beaten the other, but both agree that Kshatri has a decided edge, even though FitzMaurice has made up some ground lately.
“I can tell you that he’s got a lot more on me than I’ve got on him,” FitzMaurice said with a laugh. “Other than that, I just go out and play that specific day and whatever happens, happens.”
Both are going to be playing college tennis, but not with or against each other. Kshatri is attending the University of Pittsburgh, while FitzMaurice will be at Loyola University of Maryland. The time away will be strange, but both know that during summers and breaks they’ll be right back to being the friends that they have been since playing in under-10 tournaments a long time ago.
“It’s going to be weird not having him to practice with and just hang out with, but we’ll adjust,” said Kshatri.
Both players are extremely respectful of each other and can fight hard on the court and then forget the match and move on the second one of them has won the match. They also know, and readily admit, that they make each other better on the court, having worked with and against each other for years.
“There aren’t many players at our level of the game in the Lehigh Valley,” said Kshatri. “So the fact that we have each other to practice with is really beneficial.”
As seniors, the two are embracing their final high school showdowns, with FitzMaurice having beaten Kshatri when the two schools met last week, for the only win of the match for Emmaus. There are two showdowns left for the two in singles play and both enjoy every chance they get to meet on the court.
“I do look forward to it,” said Kshatri. “It’s nice to play multiple times, because we’re so close that one time doesn’t really tell the story. I should get to play him in the EPCs and then I’m hoping we meet in the finals of districts again.”