Masterman tennis star Jonathan Nottingham is experienced enough not to plan too far ahead.
“Throughout the year, I try not to think about too much," said Nottingham, a four-star recruit who is ranked third in Pennsylvania and 203rd nationally in the Class of 2019 by tennisrecruiting.net. “I try to focus on the match I’m playing.”
But when the regular season is over and the PIAA state tournament rolls around, the senior, headed for the college team at Carnegie Mellon University, raises both his game and his mental outlook.
“Once I got [to the state final], obviously I do have high expectations for myself,” said Nottingham, who won the 2018 Class 2A state singles championship last year as a junior. “That was something I had to ignore for the most part [this year] and treat [the final match] like a regular match. I think, with me and my family, we knew that if I played well I would have a good chance of taking it again.”
Nottingham did take the Class 2A state championship for the second straight year, defeating District 1′s Robert Cercos Gonzalez of Dock Mennonite Academy, 6-3, 6-0, on May 25.
“Being a part of his success and his journey was a pleasure and a treat,” said Tracy Tooke, the second-year head coach at Masterman. “He’s definitely going to be missed. His overall engagement, interest and motivation to win is always going to be with us."
Though Nottingham celebrated the most after the victory in the final over Cercos Gonzalez, his quarterfinal match against District 3′s Jonah Rebert was likely his most notable of the tournament. Rebert, of Lancaster Country Day School, pushed the defending champion in the first set, but Nottingham won the match 7-6 (3), 6-3.
“I think he got pumped up to play me, and he came out really hot,” Nottingham said of Rebert. "He was playing aggressive and hitting all his shots. I think I was just a bit too passive in the beginning, maybe trying too hard not to miss and giving him easy balls. I generally play better under high-pressure situations, so, with my back against the wall, I picked it up.”
Tooke knew what to expect.
“Once he gets to a tiebreaker, Jon just turns on a switch," she said.
Perhaps the only blemish on Nottingham’s back-to-back title run was that Masterman lost in the first round of the team tournament for the third straight year.
“He really wanted the team to make it up to Hershey" for the championship round, Tooke said. “Getting to the first round was a great accomplishment in itself. We thought for sure we’d get through that first match. I think he did, too. I guess that played a part in [motivating Nottingham to win his second individual title]. But he definitely wanted to finish his senior year with back-to-back titles, and he brought it home."
Nottingham’s next step will be at Carnegie Mellon.
“It all comes back to being in a team environment being my favorite thing about the sport," Nottingham said. "I always enjoy tennis more when I’m on a team. That’s the main reason I’m looking forward to college tennis. ... I really think that with the right program, a consistent practice schedule, good coaching, and a good group of guys, I can really take my game to the next level hopefully.