YORKTOWN – For Powhatan Boys Tennis on Friday afternoon at Grafton High School, a historic season came to an end.
While they fell to Grafton 5-0 in the state quarterfinals, the Indians were taking on their first state tournament in program history. Powhatan’s six competitors in the singles matches were no. 1 Brendan Pfab, no. 2 Jacob Pfab, no. 3 Ryan Steinruck, no. 4 Connor Lindhjem, no. 5 Ben Wojcicki and no. 6 Michael Washburn.
This Powhatan team – head coach Lee Kelley said – was special.
“Every coach knows when they have a special team,” Kelley said, having added earlier: “To have a team of guys at this age that’s willing to listen is incredible.”
It took a lot of effort for the players to get to this point, he noted.
“When we first came together as a team, we were a bunch of individuals, but then, all of a sudden, everything just started clicking,” Kelley said. “The leadership was there, the hustle was there…I couldn’t have asked for a better team, but I can ask for the same team next year.”
Returners to next year’s group should include juniors Michael Washburn and Ryan Steinruck, as well as Jacob Pfab, who impressed in his no. 2 singles match by winning his first set in a tight battle with his Grafton opponent. The freshman reached the tiebreaker set by battling to a 6-6 draw with the help of hard-hit, fast-travelling returns. His hustle shone through in one particularly dash to the ball, in which he skidded to a halt while firing the incoming shot back over the net in time, and the opponent returned Pfab’s rushing strike too deep, thus tipping the first-set lead to Pfab at 6-5.
Pfab went on to win the set on a dominant tiebreaker game of 7-1, with his opponent returning most of his shots – including a second serve – either into the net or outside of the court. Pfab also delivered one deep return that landed over his opponent and inside the baseline for a point in the second set.
Kelley has asked the players to establish a legacy – to pass it on, and to convince the right personality – a person who has good hustle, obedience and discipline, and is willing to listen – to come out for the team.
After all, those traits are what helped make working with this year’s players such a great experience for Kelley.
“It’s just been wonderful,” he said. “The parents just gave me a bunch of great kids – so fortunate – so, so fortunate.”