Toussaint helped Mounts make the climb

By Jay Monahan - For Times Leader
Dallas’ John Touissant earned Boys Tennis Player of the Year honors by helping lead a young Mountaineers team to success as just a sophomore. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

It is impossible to explain Dallas’ sudden rise to a boys tennis power house.

After all, the Mountaineers had never won a district championship. Better yet: no public school had ever won the Class 2A team trophy.

The recipe to Dallas’ success is unconventional, to say the least. There were no upperclassmen on the courts. Leading a group of freshmen and sophomores, John Toussaint guided Dallas to conference and district titles, in addition to a state tournament berth.

For his superior play and leadership, Toussaint was selected the Times Leader Boys Tennis Player of the Year for 2018.

“I think physically I’ve grown and gained a lot of muscle mass to help with my shots and control, and mentally I’ve grown a very great amount,” Toussaint said. “My ability to stay grounded and remain level-headed and calm has improved immensely. I’m extremely excited for next year and all that may come.”

Toussaint sent the Mountaineers into the district team finals with a victory at No. 1 singles. The sophomore battled Holy Cross’ Logan Gregory to a grueling 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-5 win that sealed the match.

“By the end of the match, it was a tough and hard fought win,” Toussaint said. “Also, I don’t have that much pressure during matches. Aside from the physical pressure tennis puts on every player, I try to remember that it’s a game and even if I lose, I know I played my best.”

Dallas claimed the Wyoming Valley Conference title with an undefeated 10-0 record. Toussaint nearly fended off Scranton Prep’s Jack Habeeb, winning the first set before falling 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Teammate Alex DeRome endured a three-hour, three-set match to clinch the Mountaineers’ 3-2 win over the Cavaliers.

“To lead the team to victory at the first seat is a very large responsibility, but it’s so fulfilling in the end,” Toussaint said. “I look back on our year and how close our team got this past season, and I realize that leading our team to victory was only half of the fun. The other half was being with my team and knowing they have my back — win or lose.”

Toussaint had to overcome setbacks in the postseason. He was paired with rival Will Ziegler, of Wyoming Seminary, in the singles quarterfinal round. Toussaint broke three consecutive racquets in the match. He was unable to keep his composure after his second racquet shattered and fell 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Ziegler.

In the doubles tournament, he and Alex DeRoma came short to the Wyoming Seminary team of Ziegler and Duncan Lumia in two sets.

The son of John and Eileen, he did not have any difficulties with taking over the top singles spot in the Dallas lineup as a sophomore. Toussaint credited his teammates — DeRome, Dom Rizzo, Matt Roginski, Matt Dillon, Joe Fioti and Pat Yurish — for helping him with the transition.

“Of course No. 1 singles is a big responsibility, but it’s also just a seat and a name,” he said. “I led my team through our season, but not without help from my teammates. Being a leader is who I am too, which makes it easier.”

With a full returning lineup that will have more experience under their belt next season, Toussaint is looking forward to contending the team title and advancing farther in the singles and doubles tournaments over the next two years of his high school career.

“I am beyond ecstatic for not only my career but Dallas’ career for the next two years,” he added. “My only goal, and this has also been what I strive for, is to better myself as a tennis player and enjoy the game.”

TIMES LEADER BOYS TENNIS ALL-STARS

Nick Bazadona

Wyoming Valley West, Senior

The Bloomsburg-bound senior captured the No. 6 seed in the Class 3A singles tournament, where he reached quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-1 win in the second round. He paired with Aidem Temple to also advance to quarterfinals in doubles.

Alex DeRome

Dallas, Sophomore

DeRome sealed the Mountaineers’ first district championship in school history by outlasting Scranton Prep’s Rhys Kelly in a grueling three-set match. His 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win took over three hours to complete. DeRome teamed with John Toussaint to reach doubles semis with a three-set quarterfinal win.

Nick Harth

Pittston Area, Senior

Harth led Pittston Area to a Wyoming Valley Conference Class 3A championship with a 7-3 team record. He upset Abington Heights’ Owen Holland for an improbable 0-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory to reach semis in district singles. Harth and Matt Costello made it to quarterfinals in doubles.

Chris Kocon

Holy Redeemer, Senior

Kocon leaped into the singles semifinal as a No. 6 seed. He downed third-seeded Logan Gregory, of Holy Cross, by 6-2, 6-2 scores in the quarterfinals. Kocon took the Royals to a 8-2 overall record in WVC team play.

Duncan Lumia

Wyoming Seminary, Senior

Lumia captured a silver medal in the district doubles tournament along with teammate Will Ziegler. Lumia was the lone unranked player to advance to the singles quarterfinals, knocking off No. 7 Alex Riccio (Dunmore) and shutting out Kyle Creedon (Riverside) for his two wins.

Dominick Rizzo

Dallas, Sophomore

Rizzo went undefeated throughout the year at the No. 3 singles position. Along with helping the Mountaineers to a WVC title, he won both his semi and final matches in quick fashion to propel Dallas to its first district team championship. Rizzo also won his state match versus Central Columbia.

Will Ziegler

Wyoming Seminary, Senior

Ziegler cemented his spot as one of the area’s top players with a silver medal in doubles. Ziegler teamed with Duncan Lumia to beat Dallas’ top doubles team to reach the championship round. He reached the semifinals with a resounding three-set win over the Mountaineers’ John Toussaint.

Dallas’ John Touissant earned Boys Tennis Player of the Year honors by helping lead a young Mountaineers team to success as just a sophomore.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_TTL080318John-Touissant.jpgDallas’ John Touissant earned Boys Tennis Player of the Year honors by helping lead a young Mountaineers team to success as just a sophomore. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Dallas sophomore named Boys Tennis Player of the Year John Toussaint; all-stars announced

By Jay Monahan

For Times Leader

TIMES LEADER BOYS TENNIS ALL-STARS

Nick Bazadona

Wyoming Valley West, Senior

The Bloomsburg-bound senior captured the No. 6 seed in the Class 3A singles tournament, where he reached quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-1 win in the second round. He paired with Aidem Temple to also advance to quarterfinals in doubles.

Alex DeRome

Dallas, Sophomore

DeRome sealed the Mountaineers’ first district championship in school history by outlasting Scranton Prep’s Rhys Kelly in a grueling three-set match. His 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win took over three hours to complete. DeRome teamed with John Toussaint to reach doubles semis with a three-set quarterfinal win.

Nick Harth

Pittston Area, Senior

Harth led Pittston Area to a Wyoming Valley Conference Class 3A championship with a 7-3 team record. He upset Abington Heights’ Owen Holland for an improbable 0-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory to reach semis in district singles. Harth and Matt Costello made it to quarterfinals in doubles.

Chris Kocon

Holy Redeemer, Senior

Kocon leaped into the singles semifinal as a No. 6 seed. He downed third-seeded Logan Gregory, of Holy Cross, by 6-2, 6-2 scores in the quarterfinals. Kocon took the Royals to a 8-2 overall record in WVC team play.

Duncan Lumia

Wyoming Seminary, Senior

Lumia captured a silver medal in the district doubles tournament along with teammate Will Ziegler. Lumia was the lone unranked player to advance to the singles quarterfinals, knocking off No. 7 Alex Riccio (Dunmore) and shutting out Kyle Creedon (Riverside) for his two wins.

Dominick Rizzo

Dallas, Sophomore

Rizzo went undefeated throughout the year at the No. 3 singles position. Along with helping the Mountaineers to a WVC title, he won both his semi and final matches in quick fashion to propel Dallas to its first district team championship. Rizzo also won his state match versus Central Columbia.

Will Ziegler

Wyoming Seminary, Senior

Ziegler cemented his spot as one of the area’s top players with a silver medal in doubles. Ziegler teamed with Duncan Lumia to beat Dallas’ top doubles team to reach the championship round. He reached the semifinals with a resounding three-set win over the Mountaineers’ John Toussaint.