Foxes’ Tennis Stars Make PIAA History

Robby Shymansky and Sidd Rajupet made PIAA history over Memorial Day weekend when they won the bronze and silver medals at the PIAA Class AAA boys’ singles tennis championship held in Hershey, PA. It was the first time in state history that two teammates shared the singles’ winners’ podium.

“There are 3,000 players in high school tennis across the state,” says Alex Slezak, first-year head coach of the Foxes’ boys’ team. “No one can really understand the level at which these two play the game or how difficult it is to make to the final four, let alone have two kids from the same team do it at the same time.”

In the quarterfinals, Shymansky beat Xandy Hammitt, a junior from Strath Haven High School, 6-4, 6-4. He then won the semi-final match 6-3, 7-5, versus the number three junior in the state, junior Matt Chen from Lower Marion High School. His win was sweet revenge for his loss to Chen last week at the PIAA boys’ team championship.But the final match proved to be a little too much for the young player, who lost 6-4, 6-3, to last year’s runner-up Michael Dickerson, a junior from Downingtown East who is ranked the top junior singles player in the state. Shymansky finished his first season of high school tennis as the top-ranked freshman singles player in Pennsylvania, and is now ranked second among all PIAA age categories.

“There is no doubt that Robby will be ready to be the state champion next year,” predicts Coach Slezak. “He had opportunities to win in the final, but this was playing in unchartered territory and at a new level of tennis for him. But he’s a competitor and does not like to lose. He just wasn’t ready to be the state champ—yet!”

Rajupet, a senior and Case Western Reserve University recruit, won his quarterfinal match by beating Andrew Tran of Wissahickon High School, 6-3, 6-3. Tran is the fourth-ranked freshman in the state. In the semifinals, Rajupet lost to future gold medalist Michael Dickerson, 7-5, 6-3, but rallied to win his consolation match for third place, 7-6, 6-2, against Matt Chen. Sidd has had a great tennis career at Fox Chapel Area High School, including his fourth place finish at last year’s PIAA singles’ tournament.

“In the semifinals, Sidd had a very, very close match,” says Coach Slezak. “I believe both Sidd and Robby played their hearts out. For Sidd, placing third was a great way to end his high school career and now he can look forward to playing for Case.”

Coach Slezak also coaches the girls’ high school tennis team. Last fall, he led Robby’s older sister Laurel and Amanda Nord to a first-place victory in the PIAA doubles’ tournament. Laurel also won the state doubles title with a different partner in 2013.