Jun. 11—As far as his scholastic athletics go, JT Vendetti is done playing tennis.
The recent graduate of Conneaut High School will set his sights on college and preparing for his career.
Those traits he picked up on the court are the same ones he plans to continue to lean on for future success.
Traits such as work ethic, self-discipline, strategizing, and sportsmanship.
"Tennis teaches you so much," Vendetti said. "In the whole growing up and maturing process, tennis kind of gave me a jump-start on that aspect.
"When you're playing a singles match, you're out there by yourself. I know you have a coach, but when you're competing for a point, in the heat of things, you only have yourself and your own mind. You have to keep yourself in check."
Venditti kept in check all three years he was able to play for the Spartans. This season, he posted a record of 19-5 playing first singles and qualified for the Division II district tournament.
He made it to districts all three years that he played for Conneaut.
Vendetti has been named the Ashtabula County Player of the Year as agreed upon by the coaches.
"It's a huge honor," he said of the recognition. "I know there are other very well-deserving people of the award. Ashtabula County has some very good tennis players and I'm honored to receive the award."
Venditti was introduced to the game when he was just 9 years old. Within a few years, he fell in love with not just the challenge of continuously being able to return shots, but the uniqueness of the game and the strategizing required to become a good player.
"I found great enjoyment in the sport because it was something different and not a lot of kids were doing it," he said. "I became a fan of the strategy, play-making and all aspects of the sport. I wanted to do something different, so I gave it a shot."
Vendetti's shot took him from the local tennis courts in Conneaut to a racquet club in Erie where he received more coaching and faced many more players.
The experience taught him another aspect involved in tennis — humility.
"Not only are there many different strategies, but it was really a kind of humbling experience when I found out there are a lot of other kids out there that are a lot better than me," he said. "That really motivated me to get better at the sport."
Getting better meant not only working on his own game but studying other players to determine what strategy would work best against them.
It was a part of his game Spartans coach Doug Hedrick certainly appreciated.
"He studies opponents very well," Hedrick said. "What they're strong at, what they're not so strong at, and he takes advantage of their weaknesses. He's very aware of what's going on on the court and that is something that is one of the things that makes him an outstanding player. He's an awesome strategist."
Not only was he strong at preparing for a match, Vendetti also had the skill and ability to meet different players with a variety of tactics.
"He could adjust all the time," Hedrick said. "He would make adjustments to what he's against. He's never set on playing a specific way. He would adjust to what his opponents were doing, to what would give him the best chance to win."
Hedrick appreciated his ability to win matches for his team. But, even those that were tasked with competing against him, had the utmost respect for not only his game but the individual he was as well.
"JT is a great player and even better kid off the court," said Geneva's Tyler Perkins, who played Vendetti twice this season said. "His sportsmanship is phenomenal. He shows a lot of respect for his coaches, his opponents, and his teammates. He's just an all-around good guy."
Vendetti's demeanor, even after a loss, was something opposing coaches could appreciate.
"The one thing I really admire about JT is he really competes hard," St. John coach Todd Nassief said. "But,when the match is over, he's friends with you. He can really compartmentalize the match, then when it's over, he puts it on the shelf. I really admire him, Dave DiSalvatore, and Tyler Perkins. They've all been trying to beat each other, but they have all kind of formed a bond and a friendship."
Vendetti is heading to Columbus this fall to attend The Ohio State University where he'll study computer science.
He plans to attack his academics and career with the same mindset he used in tennis.
As for the game itself, it's something Vendetti still expects to enjoy.
"Absolutely, he said. "I've never lost my enjoyment and I never will lose my enjoyment for the sport. It's something that is just a part of me now."