PHILADELPHIA – Around 4:45 PM Tuesday afternoon, La Salle senior Owen Williamson was seen with a broom in hand sweeping off another Philadelphia Catholic League Plaque.
The La Salle Explorers left the court at Chestnut Hill College as PCL champions yet again after defeating St. Joseph’s Prep 5-0. This was the team’s 12 consecutive title.
“I think our success is attributed to the stability of the program. There’s six seniors on the team, so we have a lot of veteran leadership,” said La Salle’s head coach Gerard Brett. “The guys practiced in the offseason on their own…They always had a really strong work ethic, they are really positive. When their matches are finished the guys stick around and root for each other and it just translates into the consistency of the program.”
The championship also marked the team’s 50th straight win, as the Explorers swept the Catholic League this season without giving up a single match.
“It is impressive. It’s the mental aspect that they have,” said Brett. “There were a couple times this season when our guys were down, and we saw that today in the first doubles match, and they battled back. I think as the regular season wore on and they saw that they hadn’t given up any points that it became a source of pride for them.”
While the Explorers remain steady next season with returning talent in second and third singles players Dan Porreca and Owen DeAngelis, longtime rival St. Joseph’s Prep is relying on a familiar face in order to regain control of the Catholic League.
The Prep re-hired Bobby Boyle to coach the Hawks this season and instill a new set of values to the program.
“We went into this season with the same expectation as we did in the past, and that was to try and win a championship this year, knowing full well that La Salle had a great team,” said Boyle. “A big thing in tennis is just trying to get the players to commit to playing the right way and playing hard, knowing that results take care of themselves if you practice the right way. I think we did accomplish that in the first year and it sets the right tone for the future.”
Hawk’s third singles player, Russell Seneca, said that Boyle has already made an impact in improving his as well as his teammates' on-court techniques.
“Our coach is really good at tennis actually and he gives us a lot of pointers,” said Seneca. “He really helps us to improve our game.”
Boyle graduated from St. Joe’s Prep in ’87 and was a two-time Catholic League MVP. He previously coached the Hawks in ’99 and led St. Joe’s Prep to three consecutive PCL Championships from 2000-2002. While winning additional championships remains a key objective, Boyle’s main goal is to create a positive lasting memory of Prep Tennis for his team.
“The gratifying thing when you coach at the high school level is seeing the progress that can be made. You are really making an impact (on the players), not only on their tennis, but on their life,” said Boyle. “It’s just very special. A lot of times when athletes look back 20 years later, they look back on their high school career. These are the moments that they really think the most about. So, hopefully we will leave good memories for them.”
Words of Wisdom:
Rivalry aside, both teams’ seniors came together to offer advice to any underclassmen aspiring to improve their physical and mental tennis game next season.
Rob Denny, LCHS Doubles, Univ. of Richmond: Advice - “Don’t be discouraged by defeat. It’s a pretty competitive league, especially amongst the top two to three teams. Always stay positive because a lot of the time you won’t be playing, so you just need to have a positive attitude about it.” Most Memorable Moment as an Explorer – “Winning the District Championship sophomore year, it was great to be part of that team.”
Nicholas Towers, LCHS Doubles, Penn State Univ.: Advice - “Don’t be intimidated and be ready for any kind of competition that you may have. Don’t be afraid going into anything, but stay confident and stay positive because the attitude that you bring into this will really affect what position you play on the team.” Most Memorable Moment as an Explorer – “Definitely last years’ PCL Championship. It was a close one down to the wire, it was 2-2 and Owen DeAngelis came in clutch and won the third set. That was just so exciting, we all stormed the court and that was my first PCL Championship so it was a really happy and cool moment for me.”
Patrick Morrison, SJP Doubles, George Washington Univ.: Advice – “I think it’s just to fight. No matter how much you are down by in a match, you can still win. I’ve been down a lot in matches and came all the way back to win. I think that it’s definitely possible. Tennis is a physical game, but it’s also very mental. If somebody gets the wrong idea in their head, they can easily lose a match just based on what they think.”
Most Memorable Moment as a Hawk – “We’ve had a couple rough years in the PCL, but I think my favorite memory would be when I played JV my sophomore year playing with one of the Stahl brothers. We beat the La Salle JV team and had a three-set battle and we won in the final match. That win was a lot of fun, it was a good one.”
Andrew Lutschaunig, LCHS Singles, Ohio State Univ. Commit: Advice – “I think that the most important part is being a team even though tennis seems like it’s an individual sport. When it all comes down to it, we are a team and the support is what matters the most. I think we developed that from the start when nobody really knew each other, and now we all have kids on the sidelines cheering us on and that really helps when you are on the court.” Most Memorable Moment as an Explorer – “That’s tough! Probably freshman year when I went to states and I had a really close match. I ended up losing in the next round pretty badly, but that first match was really cool.”
Owen Williamson, LCHS Doubles, Tulane University: Advice – “Just love the battle. It doesn’t really matter if you win or lose, just have fun. Battle it out and have a good time.” Most Memorable Moment as an Explorer – “Definitely the party last year after we won the PCL. It was a good team bonding experience. We went to the third singles – Owen DeAngelis’ house, had a good time and celebrated the season.”
Looking ahead, La Salle will compete in the District XII City Championship on May 10, 2018 against Abraham Lincoln High School in order to advance to the PIAA state tournament on May 15.
This afternoon, Lutschaunig won the District XII singles tournament and will move on to the PIAA singles state playoff tournament in Hershey on Friday, May 25.
2018 PCL Tennis Championship Match Results:
1st Singles – Andrew Lutschaunig, LCHS vs. Joe Wahba, SJP (A. Lutschaunig 6-0, 6-0)
2nd Singles – Dan Porreca, LCHS vs. Aidan Harvey, SJP (D. Porreca 6-3, 6-0)
3rd Singles – Owen DeAngelis LCHS vs. Russell Seneca, SJP (O. DeAngelis 6-1, 6-4)
1st Doubles – Jordan Daris & Jose Fernandez, LCHS vs. Rich Stahl & Mark Stahl, SJP (Daris & Fernandez 6-3, 6-4)
2nd Doubles – Owen Williamson & Matt Catanzarati, LCHS vs. Pat Morrison & Will Sarponis, SJP (Williamson & Catanzarati 6-0, 6-1)