Josh Masuda Peninsula High tennis

Josh Masuda follows through with a serve during his junior year at Peninsula. Masuda, who committed to MIT in March, was excited about chasing a CIF Southern Section title his senior season.  (Photo courtesy of John Shigekawa)

Josh Masuda was looking forward to a championship to cap his tennis career at Peninsula High School.

Having played his first three years on varsity, Masuda had already helped the Panthers to a pair of CIF Southern Section Open Division finals appearances, and an appearance in the CIF SoCal Regional championships.

Before the Panthers season could get rolling, it was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic in early March. The CIF State organization officially canceled all spring sports April 3.

"Throughout the school year, I look forward to the tennis season," said Masuda, who began playing tennis at age 8. "I love competing against other schools, and playing tennis as a team member is a much different experience than individual tournaments."

In late March, Masuda made his college commitment to MIT.

"I'm really into doing research, especially doing lab research," Masuda said. "I know they have the best resources and equipment."

MIT will also give Masuda an opportunity to play tennis at a NCAA Division 3 level, and he feels it's a perfect fit for a collegiate student-athlete.

"Playing division 3 seemed like the best balance between the academic and athletic experience in college," Masuda said. "It's important to have both."

But getting into MIT wasn't easy.

"The recruiting process started when I was a sophomore, and all they do is look at your tournament results," Masuda said. "But they don't really take you seriously until they see your test scores and GPA. Even if you're an excellent athlete, having good test scores is the only way you're getting in."

What Masuda accomplished academically in high school paved the way for his acceptance into MIT.

While boasting a weighted 4.97 GPA, Masuda was president of The Peninsula High Math Team and was a member of Technology Students Association (TSA).

"With the math teams, I was in charge of grading tests, organizing study groups and making a testing schedule for competitions," Masuda said.

Peninsula's TSA advanced to nationals in Orlando, Florida three years in a row. A possible fourth trip was canceled due to the novel coronavirus.

One thing Masuda had worked on was testing tennis strings for a science project during his junior year.

"The project tested the effect that different tennis strings have on an ulnar wrist strain," Masuda said. "That particular strain is a problem I've dealt with for a while."

During quarantine, Masuda has stuck to a home workout routine, and he has an ace in his back pocket—a tennis court in his Palos Verdes Estates backyard.

"I play tennis every afternoon, even if I have no one to play with," Masuda said. 

While he was initially disappointed with his senior season getting canceled five games in, Masuda understood the severity of the situation surrounding COVID-19.

"These are different times, and it's really important that we stay in our homes and be quarantined," Masuda said. "I think it's the right decision, but it's disappointing I can't have a normal senior year experience."

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