During a surprisingly upbeat season, Delone Catholic narrowly missed sending its boys’ tennis team to the District 3 Class 2A Championships. Matt Steinberg made sure it wasn’t a complete wash by advancing to the YAIAA 2A finals on Friday.
Steinberg cruised by Littlestown’s Nate Remington and West York’s Jack Citrone by identical 6-1, 6-1 scores on Friday at Wisehaven Tennis Cennter, following a pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins in Thursday’s opening rounds. He’ll have his stiffest test today when he faces West York’s No. 1 and tournament top seed Augie Citrone today at South Western.
“It’s shocking. I still haven’t taken it all in yet,” he said. “I’m going to districts, no matter what. Last year I had to play a qualifier. This is a big relief to just go out and play tomorrow.”
Steinberg was the only Times Area tennis player to survive the quarterfinals. In Class 2A, Evan Brady followed an upset of Delone teammate 2 Paul Tily on Thursday with a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Augie Citrone. Berm’s Nate Edmonson was knocked out, 6-3, 6-1 by Susquehannock’s Andy Snyder and teammate Brett Laughman fell to Jack Citrone 6-3, 7-5.
In Class 3A action Justin Gruver fell to Dallastown’s Sebastian May (6-4, 6-2) and Gettysburg’s Drew Heinzelmann was dropped by York Suburban’s second-seeded Parker Lando, 6-0, 6-1.
Augie Citrone won the previous matchup against Steinberg, 6-0, 6-2 on April 1. Steinberg believes he’s made improvements since then.
“He played a good match,” Steinberg said. “It was not great for me. I was missing a lot. He knows my game because we’ve played four times. I feel like I can go out there and play my best and we’ll see what happens.”
Though the scores made Steinberg’s performance look easy, his sweat-drenched undershirt told a different tale after a pair of matches at Wisehaven.
“I was grinding. Consistency won overall,” he said. “It’s not about who’s biggest and strongest, it’s about who stands out there the longest — who wants it more.”
Steinberg said he plays tennis several times a week for three hours per day in all different seasons. Delone head coach Denise Dunn has watched his confidence soar throughout the season.
Steinberg, Tily and Jeremy Snyder were expected to be constants for the Squires this year, but Dunn wasn’t sure what kind of fortune they’d have with little experience on the team.
An infusion of athletes from other sports helped the Squirettes finish the season 11-3, one spot out of districts in the 2A power rankings.
“The team supports me and I support them,” Steinberg said. “It was definitely a boost to come out here with a lot of seniors who became good players.”
No one was more influential than Brady, who had only picked up a racket a few times prior to joining the team. Dunn wasn’t sure what she’d get out of a 1,000-yard passer in football and 1,000-point scorer in basketball, who joined the squad on a whim. She was overwhelmed by his positive influence.
“He’s so coachable, it’s amazing,” Dunn said. “His court sense is impeccable and he moves well. He’s just the nicest kid, too. He came out and was so humble, wanting to learn. He’s been playing extremely well. It’s just unfortunate he didn’t come out a couple of years ago. All four seniors who came out rose to the occasion.”
To make the quarterfinals, Brady outworked Tily in a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 marathon match in which he came from behind in the third set.
“We play each other in practice every day, pretty much,” Brady said. “It was tough, but it was a lot of fun. It was one of my toughest matches this year.”
Dunn hoped that Brady would continue with the sport, adding that he could improve his topspin. His placement is superior to that of most first-year players, she added.
Brady will attend Loyola next fall, but does not plan to play anything competitively for the school. He said he hasn’t seen the last of tennis.
“I’m not playing sports next year so I figured I’d try something new,” he said. “Once I picked it up, it was awesome and now I love it. Everyone was really supportive. They say this is a lifetime sport, so I feel like I’ll be playing for a while.”
Adam Michael can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at @GoodOleTwoNames