Cortassa said his backhand always came more naturally to him, but the forehand took longer to develop. He played doubles in seventh grade, singles in eighth, then doubles throughout high school.
“It has made me learn to move my feet a whole lot more, and move up at the net and volley a whole lot more,” Cortassa said of playing doubles.
McAlester’s boys’ tennis teams have made the Class 5A state tournament all four years Cortassa’s been at MHS, but this is his first year breaking into the varsity. He plays two-doubles, and while the doubles lineups have changed this spring, current partner and fellow senior Kolten Koonce seems like he’ll be Cortassa’s partner for the rest of the season.
“We’re just seniors, and we want it more,” Cortassa said of Koonce. Their pairing also completes a circle, as in seventh grade, they were also doubles partners.
Cortassa and Koonce have already had some success together this season. They placed fourth at the McAlester Burn Out tournament April 18, giving top-seeded Claremore a battle before losing to them in the semifinals and then Durant in the third-place game.
“I’m hoping to win Regionals for (two-doubles) and the team, and be a solid team at State,” Cortassa said.
“It feels amazing when you win.”
To achieve his goal, Cortassa said the key will be “working as a team, mostly, and just not getting upset when we lose a game or miss a ball.” That’s a lesson he’s had to learn in his five years of competitive tennis, and one he said Waller really helped him with.
“He knows that we go to State every year, and he wanted to have a shot at it,” Waller said. “It worked out for him this year that he made the team, so he’s getting his shot.”