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HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS: Mahon and Gresko served up excellence

Walt Mahon ended his high school career as one of the best tennis players to ever compete for James Monroe.

Freshman Josie Gresko appears well on her way to earning a similar distinction at Stafford.

Mahon and Gresko were both outstanding in 2014, enjoying individual success while also contributing to their teams’ strong campaigns. For their accomplishments they earned The Free Lance–Star’s boys and girls tennis player of the year awards, respectively.

“I left it all out there. I did everything I could do. I didn’t miss any opportunities,” Mahon said of his stellar senior season.

Said Gresko: “I wasn’t really sure what the competition [in high school] was going to be like, but I heard there were some pretty good players. I thought I would do pretty well, but I didn’t expect to do as well as I did.”

Both players took over their teams’ No. 1 singles spots this year and went on to affirm those top billings with near-flawless seasons.

Mahon finished with a 20–3 record and advanced to the semifinals of the 3A state singles tournament. Gresko went 16–2 and made it to the 6A–South Region quarterfinals.

Mahon’s Yellow Jackets went 17–1 as a team, won the Conference 27 championship and made it to the semifinals of the 3A East Region. Gresko’s Indians also went 17–1, won the Conference 4 championship and made it to the quarterfinals of the 6A–South Region.

“I didn’t realize how strong we would be [with the addition of Gresko],” Indians coach Kate Breen said. “And then when we played our first match I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, we have an amazing team.’”

Gresko’s success came after taking a break from the sport for a while. She was burned out a bit on tennis and decided instead to give soccer and volleyball a try.

She enjoyed playing those other sports, but she was drawn back to tennis as she approached her freshman season at Stafford. That was lucky for the Indians, because Gresko was every bit as good as she was billed.

Breen knew she had a special player when she first saw Gresko play.

“I said, ‘Holy moley. Oh my gosh.’ I turned to my assistant coach and said, ‘You didn’t lie. You told me she was good, but oh my gosh, she’s amazing,’” Breen said.

Gresko earned the No. 1 singles spot during the first week of the season, and according to Breen, Gresko inspired her teammates to play better.

“She brought all my players on the Stafford team up a notch with her great play,” Breen said. “The other girls looked over at the No. 1 court and said, ‘Wow that’s awesome,’ and they stepped up. They worked harder.”

Gresko, who attends the Commonwealth Governor’s School in Fredericksburg, said she owes her success to her father, Anthony, who is an accomplished player and the only personal tennis instructor she’s ever known. The two spend hours honing her game, which features just about every shot in the book.

“He’s a great player, and I really want to be like him some day,” Gresko said.

The future is bright for Gresko, who wants to compete for region and state championships before her high school career is over. She also would like to have the chance to compete at the college level.

Mahon was presented with some opportunities to play in college, but he chose to put competitive tennis on hold when he decided to attend University of Georgia in the fall.

Like Gresko, Mahon does not spend all his free time on the tennis court. He has other interests, which will include enjoying college life.

“It’s been fun. It’s been a big commitment,” Mahon said. “I’m certainly going to miss it, but I’m looking forward to college.”

Mahon finishes his career as one of the most accomplished tennis players in the history of JM’s successful program.

All told, Mahon had a combined 146–12 career mark between singles and doubles. He won a Group AA doubles championship with Fitzhugh Johnson last year and was a state semifinalist in singles play this season.

“Someday I think he could be in the James Monroe hall of fame with his wins,” JM coach George Christoforatos said. “He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever coached, and one of the greatest people. His family is fantastic. He’s in my hall of fame.”

Mahon said one of his biggest improvements this season was in his service game, and he gained some seasoning from tough competition during training sessions.

It all paid off with a successful senior season.

“He’s one of the greatest players to ever play at James Monroe High School,” Christoforatos said. “His record speaks for itself.”

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442




This week, The Free Lance–Star unveils its spring All-Area high school sports team. Here is the schedule:

TODAY: Tennis

Tomorrow: Lacrosse

Wednesday: Track and field

Thursday: Softball

Friday: Baseball

Saturday: Girls soccer

Sunday: Boys soccer