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TENNIS: Can We Say Three-Peat? St. Joseph's Prep Wins PCL Title Times Three

By James Williamson, 05/05/23, 9:45AM EDT


St. Joseph's Prep Wins 3rd Consecutive Championship Against Familiar Opponent La Salle


(Photos & Video by James Williamson for PSD)


SPRINGFIELD, PA--The three peat is one of the most difficult feats to accomplish in sports. Winning a championship is hard enough but winning three straight can seem almost unthinkable. For St. Joseph’s Prep, (SJP) the impossible became reality on April 26th as the Hawks defeated the La Salle College High School Explorers to secure their third straight Philadelphia Catholic League Title.

It was a gray and gloomy Wednesday afternoon, but inside of the Springfield YMCA, the lights were bright, and the air was crisp with championship energy. For the third straight year the PCL Championship saw St. Joseph’s Prep and La Salle duking it out for the plague. After years of championship competition, each team was very familiar with their opponent. But despite the familiarity, La Salle would be unable to change past storylines.

The Hawks would strike first, capturing a win in the third singles matchup. St. Joseph’s Prep’s Connor Kryst was able to beat La Salle's Drew Pensabene in straight sets 6-0, 6-3. They would take another victory shortly after in the first doubles matchup as SJP’s Jordan Sztejman and JP Hayden defeated Nic Llopis and Dachi Bogveradze 6-2 6-4.

It was looking as though St. Joseph’s Prep was ready to run away with the PCL title, but La Salle wasn’t going to go down without a fight. After capturing the first two victories, the Hawks went up a set in the second singles and second doubles matchups, 6-1 and 6-3, respectively. However, La Salle would battle back on both courts, evening each match at a set a piece.

As La Salle drew even with St. Joseph’s in the second singles and doubles matches, they were able to capture their first victory of the afternoon in the first singles match as Matt Porreca defeated the Hawk’s Pete Bae in straight sets, 6-3 6-2. Down only one point and even on both of the remaining courts, it was beginning to look like either team could come away with the PCL title.

Ultimately, St. Joseph’s Prep’s early lead proved to be too much for La Salle to overcome as the Hawk’s Sam Seneca and Matt Schuenemann defeated Logan Keough and Harrison Haviland in a marathon of a final set to capture victory in the second doubles match, 6-3 7-6 (9-7), and with it, the PCL title.

SJP Junior 3rd singles player Connor Kryst said it feels great to win since freshman year. (video/ James Williamson)

SJP Senior 2nd singles player Luke Gallagher said this title win is especially significant. (Video/ James Williamson)

As the Hawks began their celebrations, the team huddled around the second singles court to cheer on Luke Gallagher in the final match of the day. Gallagher had no idea his team had already won the PCL title, so this was a must win set in his eyes. He managed to get the victory over La Salle’s Andrew Gaylord, 6-1 4-6 6-1, and officially seal the 4-1 victory for St. Joseph’s Prep and the three-peat.

SJP Senior 1st Doubles team Jordan Sztejman & JP Hayden talk about team win and strict competition. (video/ James Williamson)

SJP Junior 2nd doubles team Matt Schuenemann & Sam Seneca said hard work paid off. (Video/ James Williamson)

While St. Joseph’s Prep will be losing several players to graduation, like Gallagher and first doubles pair, Jordan Sztejman and JP Hayden, the Hawks should still be in prime position to go for a fourth straight title next season. La Salle should be square in the PCL title picture once again next season alongside the Hawks, setting up the strong possibility of a fourth straight championship match up and a chance for the Explorers to get the chip back. But until then, the Hawks will hold the title for yet another year.

2023 Championship Plaque presentation to St. Joseph's Prep. (video/ James Williamson for PSD)

PCL Championship Final Score

1st Singles:

(SJP) Pete Bae  vs  (LCHS) Matt Porreca 

Score: 6-3 6-2 (LCHS WINNER)

2nd Singles:

(SJP) Luke Gallagher  vs  Andrew Gaylord (LCHS)

Score: 6-1 4-6 6-1 (SJP WINNER)

3rd Singles:

(SJP) Connor Kryst  vs  Drew Pensabene (LCHS)

Score: 6-0 6-3 (SJP WINNER)

1st Doubles:

(SJP) Jordan Sztejman / JP Hayden vs Nic Llopis / Dachi Bogveradze LCHS

Score: 6-2 6-4 (SJP WINNER)

2nd Doubles:

(SJP) Sam Seneca  / Matt Schuenemann vs Logan Keough / Harrison Haviland LCHS

Score: 6-3 7-6 (9-7) (SJP WINNER)


Final score: SJP wins 4-1