HERSHEY Improvement is the name of the game in any sport, and Northwestern tennis player Henry Paiste is certainly playing along.
The back-to-back Disrict 11 AA Champion took his talents to Hershey Friday for the PIAA AA State Tennis Singles Championships. Paiste's goal was to improve on his first round exit of last season and it was mission accomplished for the sophomore.
The number three seed Paiste faced off against freshman Blaise Casselbury the runner up from District 3 playing out of Lancaster Country Day in the first round of the tournament. Paiste took care of Casselbury in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 accomplishing his goal of making it past the first round of play.
"The most important thing coming into the tournament this year was to improve from last year," said Paiste. "I did just that today and I was really happy with the way I played."
Paiste's style of play has changed drastically since he last competed in state play and he thinks that's why this year he was able to advance past the first round.
"I think I forced my game upon him today and I really didn't let him get going," said Paiste. "I just played my game and played tennis the way I know how and the match went in my favor. I just felt really confident coming into the match and I didn't let any outside distractions affect me."
Paiste has been working to change his game over the last nine months, which he feels has attributed to his elevated level of play.
"I've been working hard on becoming less of a defensive tennis player and more of an all court player," said Paiste. "I think it has really made me a better tennis player overall and I'm excited to keep working at it."
Paiste would face off against the number four seed Kyle Seelig from Plumstead Christian in the second round where he lost in straight sets 6-2, 6-0.
"In the second match it was more of him doing things right than me doing things wrong," said Paiste. "He was really attacking me well and he had me confused at times, but in the end I will definitely learn from my mistakes and come back next year ready to improve once again."
The season is far from over for Paiste, who competes in United States Tennis Association tournaments regularly and plans to continue to get better.
"I just want to continue getting better and improve my ranking in the USTA Middles States region," said Paiste. "I just want to stayed focused and become the best tennis player I can be."