McALESTER — McAlester senior Dominic Cortassa has a bright future ahead. He’s already been accepted to the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he’ll major in microbiology.
Then he wants to go to medical school and become a doctor like many other members of his family. Maybe he’ll be a radiologist, or an emergency room physician.
With such a grand plan, it’s understandable why Cortassa left tennis as a junior to focus on academics.
Unfortunately, Cortassa just couldn’t stay away.
“When it started, I told my mom, ‘I made a mistake, I made a mistake, I made a mistake,’” Cortassa said Wednesday. “So I said I have to play this year.”
Though born in Tulsa, Cortassa grew up in McAlester. He went to Tannehill through the sixth grade, then transferred to Puterbaugh Middle School.
Cortassa started playing tennis competitively at Puterbaugh, but his first exposure to the sport came when he joined McAlester’s summer tennis camp as an 8-year-old. Ashley Duff, Cortassa’s cousin and a former Lady Buffalo, worked at the camp and convinced him to come.
“I was just like going through the motions,” Cortassa said of his first tennis camp. “I was a basketball player then, but I thought I might as well do it and see if I liked it.”
Cortassa started playing basketball at about the same time he started tennis, playing small forward for the Braves. He said that introduced him to future McAlester players like Zach Skimbo and Eli Boyle, which in turn made it easier when he came to Puterbaugh.
Though he stuck with basketball through junior high, by high school Cortassa said he wanted to focus on one sport. After having some success at the junior high level, he chose tennis.
“Dominic came out with some real promise, actually, in junior high,” Buffs coach Chad Waller said. “He was actually better than Chance (Sistrunk), (Kolten) Koonce; he beat them all and went to junior high State.”