Yurconic reaches PIAA quarterfinal
Salisbury senior John Yurconic had already traveled to Hershey for the state tennis championships in the previous two seasons. Last year ended with state gold in the Class 2A doubles tournament along with his cousin and teammate Mason Groff.
This year’s trip to Hershey, however, would be a bit different for the Falcon senior. Yurconic qualified for the Class 2A singles tournament for the first time in his career, and he was able to put together a successful run against Pennsylvania’s top talent.
After defeating Bedford’s Jess Hampton in the opening round 6-1, 6-0, Yurconic’s inaugural trip on the state’s singles tournament came to an end. Carlynton’s Luke Phillips, District 7’s second-place finisher, defeated Yurconic by a 6-0, 6-2 final score in the PIAA Class 2A Singles quarterfinals.
“Qualifying for the state tournament in singles has always been my goal since freshman year,” Yurconic said. “I’ve experienced many other successes throughout my high school tennis career, but going into this year my main goal was winning the district singles tournament so I could compete against the best players in the state at Hershey.
“It definitely felt different simply because singles is so much different than doubles. Going up against the best players in the state is always a challenge, and I just looked to embrace it and compete to the best of my abilities.”
Yurconic knew just how tough the competition would be at Hershey. But he also knew he possessed the abilities to compete with the very best.
He opened his first round match with little trouble against Hampton despite his nerves being through the roof.
“To be honest, my nerves were off the charts in the onset of the match,” Yurconic said. “Even though I won the first set 6-1, just the feeling of finally being in the singles tournament was kind of overwhelming. After the first set though, my coach talked to me and settled me down.”
But then came Phillips, who nearly earned a spot in the championship before he lost to eventual runner-up William Wanner. Wanner, the District 3 champion, ousted Phillips in three sets (4-6, 6-4, 6-4).
After a back-and-forth first game, Yurconic struggled to generate a rhythm against Phillips.
“I’ve seen many of the players at tournaments outside of high school and I knew anything could happen, so I just wanted to prepare myself as best I could to succeed,” Yurconic said. “Getting a state medal for the third straight year was definitely a major goal for me.
“Right out of the gate the first game was very tight, probably five deuces. But unfortunately I dropped the game on my serve. After that I really just couldn’t get back to the game plan. Luke was playing well moving the ball around. I would win points here or there, but I wasn’t able to consistently put enough points together to win the games I needed to win, which was frustrating.”
Despite the loss that ended his season, Yurconic’s career may go down as one of the best in Salisbury history. He and Groff brought Salisbury its first state medals (the two earned silver in the 2015 doubles tournament and gold in 2016). The duo won districts as a doubles tandem in each of the previous two years, and Yurconic added this year’s district singles gold medal to his collection.
“My tennis career at Salisbury was quite a journey, full of unexpected surprises like the state championship and team success,” Yurconic said. “I am more than happy with the legacy Mason and I left at Salisbury, bringing the school its first tennis state title. I hope our efforts can help grow the tennis program to new heights in the future.”