One faced an old rival, while the other, once a freshman phenom, stared across the net to find an heir apparent.
Though the final scores suggest an easy Thursday for Jacob Pfab of Powhatan and Raine Weis of Hanover, both expressed relief as well as exhilaration after winning the Class 4, Region B singles tennis championships at Hanover High School.
Pfab, a junior, took a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Hanover’s Ethan Belote, using a dominant run late to grab the first set, then surviving six tiebreakers in the fourth game of the second set to help seal his first region championship.
“He didn’t make any mistakes, he didn’t have any weaknesses,” Belote said of Pfab’s performance. “He was fast, had strong ground strokes, he’s just an all-around great player.”
For Pfab, who remembers losing two of three matches to Belote when both were freshmen in 2019, the long journey through a COVID-canceled season to a region championship was very consistent.
“To be a good tennis player, you know, you’ve got to put in the work,” Pfab said. “You can’t just come out here expecting to be a good tennis player when you don’t put in the work.”
Pfab’s power played a major role in winning eight of the final nine points of the first set, turning a relatively close 4-2 set into a 6-2 victory. Using that momentum, he won the first three games of the second set, breaking Belote’s service twice.
In what felt like his last push, Belote battled Pfab’s service, finally succumbing after the sixth tiebreaker of the game. Pfab used a devastating combination of power strokes and perfectly timed drops to wrap up his first region title and a berth in the Class 4 state semifinals next Thursday in Newport News, where he’ll face the Region 4A winner, which will be determined Friday.
Belote was able to regroup with doubles partner Charles Adams, Jr. to end the Cinderella run of Mechanicsville’s Preston Edmonds and Matthew Lavinder with a 6-2, 6-2 triumph for the region doubles title.
Edmonds and Lavinder had knocked off Pfab and partner James Frame of Powhatan 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in a semifinal earlier to advance to the title tilt.
Earlier in the afternoon, Weis, a senior, faced sophomore Miranda McCoy of Eastern View, who learned much from her 6-0, 6-0 defeat to Weis during Hanover’s 5-0 region team championship win over the Cyclones last week.
“She’s a freshman, almost, because she didn’t have last season,” Weis said of McCoy. “She was more consistent (today), and she told me she’d been practicing two to three times a day preparing for this.”
A sign of respect to the defending Class 4 state champion created a much more competitive atmosphere, Weis occasionally frustrated by her inability to close points as well as committing some unforced errors.
But her experience shined through in the latter portions of both sets, winning 6-2, 6-3 on a day where emotions ranged from “what if” to “finally.”
“Today, I don’t think I would have done as well if I didn’t have the match experience,” Weis explained. “Even over COVID, I was playing different matches. I’d get (Facebook) memories then from a year ago, two years ago, and I’d want to cry just seeing them.”
Though coronavirus nixed Weis’ dream of playing on four straight team state champions at Hanover, now the elder statesman on a squad filled with sophomores, she’ll lead the Hawks into battle for her team’s fourth consecutive state crown, and her third, Monday at Jamestown in a Class 4 State semifinal. She also seeks back-to-back singles championships.
Weis teamed with sophomore Juliann Webster to defeat Julia Bassett and Caroline Knick of Monacan 6-0, 6-0 for the region doubles crown.
Weis seeks her third Class 4 doubles title, winning in 2018 and 2019 with Madison Moore.