A local student has a lot to look forward to, as he excels in tennis on a national level.
Mark Vasat, 14, is competing this week in the National Clay Court Championship, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He qualified for it by winning all of his singles and doubles matches in his age category at a Junior USTA tennis tournament in Yakima.
Vasat’s top placement at the Pacific NW USTA event also qualified him for the Zonal Team Championship July 24 through July 28, in Colorado Springs.
“I enjoy competing at a national level,” he said Friday, from Florida. “I am physically and mentally challenged at each match, and I meet new friends from around the U.S.”
The tournament in Fort Lauderdale began Sunday and will continue through Saturday.
Vasat started to play tennis at the age of 4, but he became serious about it two years ago. He used to also play soccer, but he decided to focus on tennis exclusively.
“I like the individual aspect of it, more than being on a team,” Vasat said. “It’s not a sport many people want to play.”
In Florida, he was adjusting to the clay surface. Vasat is used to playing on a hard court, similar to cement.
He is coached by Brent Waddle, Steve Robertson and Sanja Lemes.
Vasat’s goals include attending a Division One college or university and playing on the tennis team.
“I want to go to a good academic school,” he said. “A dream of mine would be to play professional doubles on the men’s circuit tour.
“I am inspired by the Bryan brothers definitely,” Vasat added. “They’ve been the best in the world for a long time. They’re Americans. I can follow in their footsteps and learn from them.”
Through tennis, he has learned the value of working hard in order to succeed.
Challenges include practicing two to three hours, four days a week.
“It’s definitely a challenge to want to go on the court and work hard, but I know I have to do it to succeed on the national level and win matches,” Vasat said.
As a student at Skyridge Middle School, he practiced at the Vancouver Tennis Center. Vasat, son of Jiri and Irma Vasat, is transitioning over to another club, PDX High Performance, owned by Robertson.
Vasat is looking forward to representing Camas High School on the tennis team.
“It’s a very hard sport,” he said. “Going to a challenging school such as CHS, having the homework load and still being able to play tennis on a regular basis is tough. You have to be able to fit both in.
“Traveling to tournaments can be quite tough,” Vasat added. “There are a lot of sacrifices. The sport owes nothing to anyone. I have to work hard to achieve anything. My coaches tell me that.”