Family has been at the core of Malchu Pascual’s tennis game most of his life.
While he’s appreciative of the support and guidance received from his parents and older brother Patrick, Pascual also desires to chart his own path in the sport. He’s achieving that to a degree this spring, having sufficient success to be named The Mercury’s All-Area Boys Tennis Player of the Year.
The Spring-Ford sophomore took a big step toward his own domination of the local scholastic court scene, winning the Pioneer Athletic Conference Singles championship. He also teamed up with Nolan Schweitzer to finish second in the PAC Doubles tournament, bested only by Methacton’s duo of Krishna Suraesh and Harsha Santhanam.
“Since the beginning, I felt anything is possible,” Pascual said. “You have to be able to believe you can do things. From the start, I took it one match at a time and didn’t look ahead of myself.”
He’s facing a bar set quite high by Patrick, the gold standard of PAC boys tennis during his time at Spring-Ford. The older Pascual, a 2016 graduate, won three conference singles championships — the first PAC player to accomplish that feat — and was part of two doubles titles. He was also the PAC’s Player of the Year multiple times.
“That definitely motivated me, to do what he did and do kind of better,” Malchu said. “But I see things in me as an individual. I don’t like to compare my situation to his.”
Off a freshman season that saw him reach the PAC’s fifth-place consolation round before being stopped, Pascual breezed past the opposition through the dual-match schedule, not tested by the requirement to play third sets. That roll continued into the PAC Singles’ early rounds, Malchu handling Owen J. Roberts’ Sam Savage and Upper Perkiomen’s Adam Dockery by identical 6-0, 6-0 scores.
“This season, I looked to play smarter and play more consistently,” Pascual said. “I’d come out every match looking to play a good level of tennis.”
Pascual reached the championship match with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Upper Merion’s Jaden Mayer in their semifinal. That set up a rematch with Phoenixville’s Graham Light, who won their April 5 duel 6-3, 6-4 to help the Phantoms edge the Rams, 4-3.
This time, however, Pascual held the upper hand. He dispatched Light in straight sets, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
“Graham was probably my toughest match,” he said. “The further you go (in a tournament), the harder the opponents get. I looked forward to it and got ready.
“I played at a pretty good level,” Pascual added. “Obviously, I could have done a lot better, but I played well enough to win the tournament.”
He moved up another notch in doubles play, too. After teaming with T.J. Cruickshank to place third in PACs his freshman season, the pairing of Pascual and Nolan Schweitzer emerged as runners-up this spring.
Pascual and Schweitzer won their early matches in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1 over Perkiomen Valley’s Aaron Fry and Carter Young and 6-4, 6-2 over OJR’s Savage and Jason Sawicki. Going against Light and Danny Soh in the semifinals, Pascual/Schweitzer rebounded from a 1-6 first-set loss to win out, 6-4, 6-1.
In the finals, Pascual and Schweitzer were topped by Suraesh and Santhanam 6-2, 6-3.
“I tried to stay positive and be focused,” Pascual said. “I have the drive to play the best all the time. Sometimes, it’s hard to sustain that level all the time.
“Nothing is given. I knew I had to play well. If you’re not ready, anybody can be dangerous.”
John Brennan has been in the enviable position of having the Pascuals on his team the past six years. From that vantage point, Spring-Ford’s head coach is an authority on the brothers’ comparative skill and mindsets.
“I saw last year two different people,” Brennan said. “Both want to win. They go about it differently.
“It’s tough for Malchu to live up to his older brother. He’s handled pressure and setbacks well, for being a sophomore in high school.”
The younger Pascual brother got his start in the sport around age 5. He had the benefit of a tennis court at home on which to practice.
“Usually, when the weather is good, I’d play tennis,” he said. “It’s easy to go out and play tennis (with court at home).”
Outside the school season, Pascual played in United States Tennis Association (USTA) sectional tournaments.
“There’s a lot of good competition there,” he noted. “That’s where I’d get better, refine my game.”
Malchu and Patrick practiced with their father, Pancho, through the years. Malchu noted “that helped me get better the past 10 years.”
Maria, the boys’ mother, also offered support to their tennis endeavors.
“They both helped a lot,” Malchu said. “They all had a part in getting better, doing well in tennis. Mom and Dad were there to help.”
Pascual’s plans for the summer include participation in more USTA tournaments. He’s also focused on stepping upward from his sophomore-year performance … not just reaching the District 1 singles and doubles tournaments, but advancing beyond the opening round.
“I’m hoping to get in a good amount of tournaments,” he said. “I hope to improve my game and be better next summer.
“Obviously, next year I want to do better … repeat as PAC champion and do better in districts.”
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