Yokopenic set to compete in boys singles WPIAL tennis finals

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Boys tennis captain Braden Yokopenic takes the court for his WPIAL practice.

Evelyn Esek, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, junior Braden Yokopenic will do something no other Baldwin boys tennis player has done in recent years: compete in WPIAL boys tennis singles finals.

Yokopenic qualified for finals last week. In his first section match, he played Plum’s number one seed and won 10-0.  In the second round, he played Central Catholic’s number two seed and won 10-4, which moved him on to WPIAL semifinals. 

Yokopenic then played Shady Side’s number one seed and lost 2-6 and 0-6. In his final seeding match, to compete for third place, he lost to Shady Side’s number two seed. Yokopenic is currently seeded 15th and will have to play the number two seed in the WPIAL bracket, who is from North Allegheny. 

Despite being the first Baldwin boys tennis player to compete in WPIALs in recent years, he is not exceptionally nervous. 

“I am definitely more excited than stressed to be there,” Yokopenic said. 

Yokopenic also has to battle another obstacle: injury. He has a torn labrum in his shoulder from overuse of the muscle, and has to alter his game because of the injury.

“I do whatever I can to keep myself in the match,” he said, “slowing down my swings or not using a certain shot at all.”

For this year, Yokopenic is looking to gain experience with the WPIAL matches and to enjoy playing challenging opponents. 

“I am very excited to play,” he said. “It will be my first time playing in WPIALs so I’m just looking to have fun being there.”