Kshatri earns gold
A year ago, Nick Kshatri came up just short of playing in the PIAA Singles Tournament when he lost in district finals to Emmaus’ Matt FitzMaurice. This season, he turned the tables on FitzMaurice, his best friend and fiercest rival, and will make a trip to states after recording a 7-6 (7-2), 4-6, 7-6 (7-2) win over FitzMaurice.
While last year’s battle between the two top players was good, this year’s was a classic, that lasted over two and a half hours.
“One day, Matt will win and the next day, Nick will win,” said Parkland coach Mike Hingston.
In the first set, the duo battled through three deuces, with FitzMaurice taking a 6-5 lead, only to see Kshatri use his big serve to tie the set and go to a tiebreaker. Kshatri dominated play in the tiebreaker to take the opening set.
It looked for a while like Kshatri might take a straight set victory, which would have been unusual for the two senior players. Kshatri again used a strong serve and had a 4-2 lead in the second set, but FitzMaurice wasn’t done and battled all the way back, winning 6-2 to tie the match at one set a piece.
“We both knew it was going to be a battle, it always is between us,” said Kshatri. “A lot of it today was just being mentally tough. I have a couple blisters on my foot that were bothering me, but I just had to fight through that, because this was so big.”
The third set saw FitzMaurice leading 5-3, but Kshatri cut it to 5-4, again with a daunting serve. While FitzMaurice served well, Kshatri was able to break his serve and tie the match 5-5 in the third set.
FitzMaurice wasn’t done and returned the favor, breaking Kshatri’s serve for a 6-5 lead before the Parkland senior raised the stakes with another service break and a 6-6 tie. The tiebreaker was when Kshatri really kicked it into high gear and again, dominated, taking a 7-2 win over FitzMaurice.
“It’s been great the way this played out, because I lost in quarters as a freshman, then lost in the semis the next year and last year, lost to Matt in the finals,” said Kshatri. “Now, to get to this level is something I’m really proud of. It turned out great.”
As for any advice that FitzMaurice would give his friend as he travels to the Hershey Racquet Club for his first round match against the third-place finisher from District 7, it’s a simple plan.
“Not that he needs my advice, but I would just say have fun and enjoy the moment,” said FitzMaurice. “He’s a great player and I’ll be cheering for him.”
Next up is the continuation of the District 11 Team Championship, which opened Saturday, with Parkland as the top seed. Parkland downed Whitehall and Emmaus downed Bangor to set up a semi-final match between the two rival teams. Parkland grabbed a 5-0 win over Emmaus and advances to the finals against either Liberty or Nazareth, whose match was postponed Tuesday by bad weather. The District 11 team finals will be played Thursday afternoon at 3:00 at Lehigh University.
FitzMaurice and Kshatri also have a match to play to determine the EPC Champion, but that match was postponed for a second time on Monday, because of bad weather. There is no immediate make-up date set for the conference match.
Seedings for the District 11 Doubles Tournament were announced Tuesday, with Parkland’s Aneesh Kapoor and Nate Lyman coming in as the sixth seed, the highest seed for the Trojans in the tournament.