If you ask Will Prillaman, he'll modestly say the level of boys tennis in the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools was lower than usual this season.
Maybe. But this is certain: Prillaman himself was about as high as a player can go in the TCIS.
Prillaman is the 2018 Daily Press Boys Tennis Player of the Year after compiling a scintillating senior season: 16-0 in singles, all at No. 1, and 14-1 at No. 1 doubles with eighth-grader William Fan. It was heady stuff for a guy already held in high esteem around the area for his sportsmanship.
"I got a little bit lucky with the rest of the TCIS," Prillaman said. "I think the TCIS was down compared to past years.
"Into the state tournament, I was probably playing my best tennis. We were slowly getting better and better until this year."
Like his team, under the guidance of coach Marvin Hedgepeth, Prillaman gradually climbed up the TCIS ranks. Until this season, he was overshadowed by stars such as Cape Henry Collegiate's Conor Somers, now playing for Notre Dame, and Norfolk Academy's Romesh Kahatapitiya, now starting for Navy.
This year, though, after playing basketball for HRA, he went unbeaten in singles through the playoffs, which culminated for the Navigators in a 5-2 semifinal loss in Charlottesville to eventual Virginia Independent Schools Division II runner-up Covenant. He was the VIS D-II Player of the Year.
In the TCIS No. 1 bracket, Prillaman won 6-0, 6-4 over Norfolk Christian's Charles Hobbs in a semifinal and 7-5, 6-2 against Norfolk Academy's Arman Shekarriz in the final.
In doubles, Prillaman and Fan lost just one time, a 9-7 regular-season pro-set to Shekarriz and Max Steingold after holding a match point at 7-6. In the TCIS No. 1 flight, the Navigators avenged that defeat with a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
Regarding Fan, Prillaman said, "I had known how good he was coming into the season. He's got a great net game, so that was kind of surprising."
Having just graduated, Prillaman is getting ready to head to Dartmouth and plans to play at least club tennis there. He's considering contacting the coach of a Big Green varsity that finished the season ranked 31st in the nation.
"It took a lot of work, but all in all, (I'm) very happy with the result," he said. "It came down to Virginia, North Carolina, Dartmouth or William and Mary. I took a visit after I had gotten accepted, and I talked to some people and they kind of swayed me in that direction, and then I talked with my parents and they supported it, so I just ended up going with my gut feeling."
Daily Press Spring All-Stars
Monday, June 25: Boys Track and Field — E.J. Richardson III, Bethel; Girls Track and Field — Ryah Hinds, York
Tuesday, June 26: Boys Tennis — William Prillaman, Hampton Roads Academy; Girls Tennis — Natasha Novak, York
Wednesday, June 27: Golf
Thursday, June 28: Boys soccer
Friday, June 29: Girls soccer
Saturday, June 30: Baseball
Sunday, July 1: Softball
About this series: The Daily Press highlighted the Peninsula’s unique place in American history with the 2017-18 all-stars. We photographed the spring sports players of the year at Jamestown Settlement to complete our year-long series. The fall athletes were photographed at Fort Monroe, while our winter athletes visiting Colonial Williamsburg.
Dearth can by reached by phone at 757-247-4640 and is at twitter.com/sdearth.