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Plesha working hard for an education

Some prep athletes are dedicated to the idea of having an outstanding collegiate career in their chosen sport. Others dream of a professional career one day. Anyone who has ever seen Sunnyside High School standout Danny Plesha play the sport of tennis might think he is gearing up for the latter.

Instead, he is getting himself ready for a professional career of a different kind.

Plesha, 17, who will be a senior at Sunnyside High School this fall, is working on being the very best he can, but his ultimate goal is to be the best in the classroom.

Towards that end, Plesha has been putting in hours upon hours of work on the tennis courts in hopes of nabbing a college scholarship.

"I have been playing a lot of tennis," said Plesha.

Since he was 11, Plesha has been part of the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The USTA features players from around the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia.

"They (the tournaments) are pretty much all over," added Plesha.

Plesha has kept busy with USTA events this past season. He has played in a couple of tournaments in Vancouver Wa., as well as in Yakima, Wenatchee, Ellensburg, Walla Walla, Puyallup, Federal Way and Beaverton, Ore.

So far in singles play for the season, Plesha is 28-9. Plesha claimed singles crowns this year in Puyallup, Wenatchee and Ellensburg and also took the Yakima Valley Junior Championship. He is 12-7 in doubles play, claiming titles in Wenatchee and Ellensburg. Plesha won the doubles title with another outstanding Lower Valley tennis player, Kevin Floyd.

Plesha has had his hands full on the USTA circuit with Tristan Biesecker of Stanwood, dropping all three of his matches.

"He is just really good," said Plesha of Biesecker, who is the top ranked tennis player in the 18-year-old champs division in the Northwest.

Plesha said he met up with Biesecker all three times on the inside courts, where he doesn't necessarily play well.

Plesha's biggest win of the season came back in March when he defeated Ric Mortera, who was the top ranked tennis player last season in 18 champs division.

"I kind of had the match of my life that day," said Plesha.

Plesha got his start in the USTA from his brother, Mike.

"He just thought it would be a good idea for me to get started competing at a young age," said Plesha.

Pretty soon, playing on the USTA circuit sort of became habit for the young tennis ace.

"Now, I have to play to get a scholarship," said Plesha.

Plesha is aiming to impress college scouts on the USTA circuit in hopes of nabbing a scholarship for college. Plesha is planning to visit Eastern Washington University in October and would also like to stop by Gonzaga University to look at the two schools.

Plesha wants to study math after high school in hopes of entering the engineering field.

"I am just good at it (math)," said Plesha.

Next high school spring season, Plesha will be going it alone on the Sunnyside tennis courts. This past year, Plesha and his older brother, Johnny, took third place at the State 3A high school tennis tournament. Plesha said playing doubles has really helped him become a better singles player because of the way one has to perform at the net.

Playing on the USTA circuit will help Plesha gain a scholarship more than the high school scene, said the Grizzly senior, because of the quality of competition.

"There is just really good competition there," said Plesha. "You have to play your best."

Plesha reached a milestone this year on the USTA circuit, obtaining his highest ranking ever. Plesha is currently ranked number six in the 18 champs division, after finishing last year ranked 14th in the 16 champs division.

"It has been a breakout year," said Plesha.

Plesha will be competing in a tennis tournament in Tacoma this weekend.

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