Susan Wagner’s Standout Jackson Looks to Build on Freshman Success
Susan Wagner’s Shawn Jackson enjoyed a phenomenal freshman campaign a season ago. Jackson went undefeated in singles play during the PSAL regular season and was a semifinalist in the PSAL individual tournament.
But his big accomplishment came in New York City’s top tournament: the Mayor’s Cup. Jackson defeated fellow freshman Jonah Jurick of Bronx Science, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to capture the championship.
“It was a pretty awesome moment,” Jackson said of his Mayor’s Cup victory. “It definitely gave me a boost of confidence that I could play at that level consistently. I tried not to over think things before the matches and just played my game.”
Jackson said that his Mayor’s Cup run was some of the most consistent tennis he has played, match in and match out, and that was something he wanted to ensure he did all season long in 2016.
“Consistency is definitely something I want to improve on,” said Jackson. “I also wanted to work on my serve, making it more of a weapon. If I am able to hold serve, the return game will become easier. I did a lot of physical fitness to get stronger. It’s a key component to tennis. You need to be able to withstand a long match. I played outdoors at tournaments in the offseason which helped me prepare for the high school season matches this year.”
Jackson already has the firepower on his shots and that will only continue to improve as he gets older and stronger.
His strategic and tactical game has improved also, something he credits to his training at the John McEnroe Tennis Academy (JMTA).
“I think the main thing I’ve improved on since being at JMTA is working points,” Jackson said. “When I first started, I was really fast and getting to a lot of balls, but I really didn’t have a strategy in keeping the ball in the court, whereas now it is coming along. I’m able to work the point, and they’ve taught me a lot about dictating and winning the points.”
The sophomore has now set his sights on the 2016 season.
“I want to make it to New York State championships,” said Jackson. “I feel like I can. I did really well last year, and I feel like my game has improved a lot so making it to states is my goal.”
Jackson will lead Susan Wagner in a tough Staten Island Division that features formidable opponents such as Tottenville and Staten Island Tech, but with Jackson at the helm, Susan Wagner will make some noise this year in New York City.
Other players to watch
Lantis Wang ♦ Bronx Science
As a freshman last season, Lantis Wang anchored the top singles spot for a Bronx Science team that reached the PSAL semifinals. Wang will once again lead the Wolverines at first singles in his sophomore campaign.
Jonah Jurick ♦ Bronx Science
Jonah Jurick, a freshman a season ago, had a phenomenal campaign, playing second singles for Bronx Science and advancing to the Mayor’s Cup finals.
Chris Kolesnik ♦ McKee/Staten Island Tech
Chris Kolesnik held down the top singles spot for the Seagulls of Staten Island Tech last season, and will once again lead a Staten Island Tech team that is capable of making a deep run in the playoffs.
Kemal Aziz ♦ McKee/Staten Island Tech
Right behind Kolesnik was Kemal Aziz last season. As a freshman, he went undefeated in the regular season and looks to continue that success in his sophomore campaign.
Philip Raytburg ♦ Brooklyn Tech
As a junior last year, Phillip Raytburg played second singles behind one of the best players in the city, William Trang. With Trang having graduated, Raytburg will be the one leading Brooklyn Tech in his senior season.
Igor Maslov ♦ James Madison
Igor Maslov will lead the James Madison squad at first singles in a highly-competitive Brooklyn Division.
Teams to watch
Beacon won its second consecutive city championship a year ago, and despite losing five of its seven starters to graduation, will be led by a group of young but talented players, such as Amer Hosain to defend the title.
Bronx Science sent out an incredibly young lineup a season ago, including three freshman in the top three singles spots. The talented freshman, including Mayor’s Cup runner-up Jonah Jurick, helped lead the Wolverines to the semifinals and with more experience this season, should make Bronx Science a contender.
McKee/Staten Island Tech
The Seagulls of Staten Island Tech are led by Chris Kolesnik and Kemal Aziz at the top of the singles card, making SI Tech a contender despite graduating three starters from one year ago.
Stuyvesant High School
Stuyvesant High School will be led by a deep and young singles lineup that includes Nicholas Pustilnik, Derek Lung, Michael Kaydin and Isaac Rose-Berman, all of whom were just freshman a year ago.
Cardozo will lose top singles player Marcus Smith to graduation, but return the rest of its starting lineup from a year ago, plus a new talented crop of freshman, should make Cardozo the favorite in Queens.
Key dates to remember
►Monday, March 21: 2016 Regular Season Begins
►Saturday, April 16: Qualifiers for PSAL Individual Tournament
►Monday-Thursday, April 18-21: Main Draw of Individual Tournament Begins
►Friday, May 13: “A” League Playoffs Begin
►Monday, May 16: “B” League Playoffs Begin
►Wednesday, May 25: “A” League Finals
►Friday, May 27: “B” League Finals
►Thursday-Saturday, June 2-4: 2016 New York State Championships
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org