SERVING IT UP – Masami Surisawa kept himself pretty busy throughout all three days of last year’s New York State Boys Tennis Championships at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, and he hopes that will be the case this weekend as well in the 2023 event.
A junior at Albany High, Surisawa won the Section 2 Individual Championships last week, defeating Albany Academy’s Dhev Jammula in the finals, 6-3, 6-4. But if he’s still playing tennis this Sunday, he just might be on the verge of winning the state championship. Last year as a sophomore, he lost his first match at states, but then captured the consolation event for those boys beaten in the first round.
“Even though I lost in the first round, I ended up going all the way in the backdraw, so it was really cool to be there right to the last day,” said Surisawa, “I know what to expect and I hope I do well. There’s no backdraw event this year so if I want to keep playing I can’t afford a bad day or a slow start.”
Surisawa won all of his 14 singles matches at No. 1 for the Falcons this year with the exception of a close three-set loss to Saratoga’s Vincent Devito. Heading into the Section 2 event last week at Central Park, he was the No. 2 seed in the singles behind Jummula, the defending champion. It was Jummula who ousted Surisawa in one of last year’s sectional semifinals.
“I feel like if I play really well, I can beat anyone in this area,” said Surisawa, who plays doubles with Jammula in various junior tournaments during the high school offseason. “I went three sets with Dhev last year, so heading into the match I knew, if I played my game and played very well, I could beat him.”
Surisawa said his all-around game seemed to be running on all cylinders against Jummula.
“I’m comfortable at the baseline, but I consider myself an aggressive player,” said Surisawa. “I love attacking, and I love coming into the net on a short ball. I have a big serve and I like to use that serve to get a short ball and then attack the net.”
Surisawa is a one-sport athlete. Tennis has dominated his free time since he was a young boy growing up in Albany, going to Montessori School before heading off to Myers Junior High and then Albany High. He originally took lessons from Derek Marsden before he started working with Mike Amico at Sportime when he was in junior high. Directing the Albany High tennis program is Anthony Omogaragbon.
“It’s always been tennis for me, for as long as I can remember,” said Surisawa. “I think I picked my first tennis racquet up when I was 3. I had a few friends who were just messing around with a tennis ball like little kids do, and one of them handed me a racquet and I didn’t know what to do with it. They ran me around in circles. But I devoted everything, early in my life, to playing tennis. I wanted to get better so I could hit with my friends.”
Surisawa defeated Niskayuna’s Zain Choudry in the sectional semifinal, 6-3, 6-2, while Jammula got past Liam Chartrand of Saratoga High, 6-4, 6-2. Choudry and Chartrand were the third and fourth seeds, respectively, in the tournament, and Choudry earned a trip to the state tournament by defeating Chartrand for third place, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In the doubles competition, Shaker High’s Devraj Singh and Renat Gosmanov defeated their Shaker High teammates, Rosha Mehta and Abhinav Thati in the final, 7-5, 6-3.
Singh and Gosmanov play No. 3 and 4 singles for Shaker during the regular season, and were seeded ninth. Along with upsetting their higher seeded teammates, they also surprised the top seeded team of Saratoga’s Devito and Will Frasier.
Shaker High advances
In the quarterfinals of the New York State Team Tennis Tournament Tuesday in Utica, Section 2 champion Shaker defeated Jamesville-Dewitt of Section 3, 5-2. The win puts the Blue Bison into next Friday’s state semifinal at the National Tennis Center in Flushing.
While Shaker’s top two players, Roshan Mehta and Abhinav Thati, couldn’t quite pull out victories, their teammates showed just how strong the Blue Bison are as a team, dominating the rest of the Jamesville-Dewitt lineup.
Devraj Singh and Renat Gosmanov didn’t give up a game at the No. 3 and 4 singles, and Shaker’s three doubles teams also posted convincing victories.
The Blue Bison are coached by long-time area teaching pro Gerard Cuva.
Sportime/Schenectady on the mend
Life at Sportime/Schenectady hasn’t returned to normal yet after April’s fire destroyed a substantial section of the building’s interior.
Returning to “normal” however, may not be the right choice of words for the facility that used to be called the Schenectady Racquet Club when it first opened back in 1973. According to general manager Sarah Sharpe, a more appropriate choice of words might be “better than ever.”
“We are going to have virtually a brand new facility with an enhanced lobby, spectacular viewing on two levels, an expanded day care, and the courts will be beautifully restored with new surfaces,” Sharpe told me earlier this week. “The contractors are working quickly and the progress has been incredible considering the fire happened just over a month and a half ago.”
The club’s eight outdoor courts along with two inside the bubble are all being used, while the fitness center, formerly on two floors, is now just on the ground level while the upstairs is temporarily being used as the day care center.
“Using the outdoor courts and the bubbled indoor tennis and pickleball courts has been key to continue our operations and provide as much normalcy to our members and Sportime community as possible,” said Sharpe. “The employees and staff have been so patient and adaptive throughout the transitions, and the Sportime company has been very supportive and instrumental in keeping everything on track.”
Junior tennis events will return to Sportime this month under the direction of Peter Green.
On Saturday, June 10, there will be a Level 6 tournament for boys and girls in the 12, 14 and 18-year-old divisions. Players will be guaranteed at least two matches.
On June 17, Sportime will host a 10 and under event, and on Sunday, June 11 and 18, a WTN (World Tennis Number) Banded event will take center stage. For more information, contact Green at [email protected].