Even on a cold Thursday afternoon, it's never too early to think of the conference meet.
The Naperville Central boys tennis team swept host Glenbard North 7-0, winning all of the matches in straight sets and continuing to make the progress needed to remain a contender for the DuPage Valley Conference title next month.
"We're doing real well. We're getting better each meet. Today was the best I've seen the guys play on the singles court all season," said Redhawks coach Dan Brown.
The match that got the biggest audience Thursday was the No. 1 singles battle between Naperville Central's Danny Albert and Glenbard North's Matt Krzyzaniak, both candidates for a high seed at the league meet.
Albert, who finished second in conference last season, won 6-4, 6-0 over Krzyzaniak, who placed third in 2012.
"Matt has a lot of power and I just tried to stay more consistent with my shots," Albert said.
He returned this season after going to state last spring, reaching the seventh round of the consolation bracket in doubles with Wesley Lo and going 5-2 overall.
"I'm probably more developed and I've improved my serve. And I have a lot more experience," Albert said.
What Brown was particularly happy with regarding Albert was the way he bounced back after losing Wednesday to his Wheaton Warrenville South opponent in the Redhawks' 6-1 victory.
Glenbard North coach Doug Clark said Krzyzaniak is capable of winning against the rest of the DVC foes he'll face and potentially finish 5-2 and still be one of the top singles players at the DVC meet. His only two losses are to Naperville Central and Naperville North.
No. 2 singles player Sid Swamy and the rest of the Naperville Central lineup all remained undefeated in conference play.
Swamy missed a repeat trip to state last season because of injury after qualifying at singles as a sophomore and winning a match.
"Wherever coach wants me to play, I'm happy to do what I can do," Swamy said.
Kevin Wang won at No. 3 singles and Vishwas Jena prevailed at No. 4.
Lo is paired this season with another returning state qualifier, Justin Gillette, who reached the fourth round of the consolation bracket going 3-2 in doubles with the now graduated Matt Mason.
"I think we know each other a lot more on the court. We're facing teams that bring out different strategies against us and that will help at the DVC meet and sectionals," Lo said of this season's pairing..
Daniel Delgrosso and Tommy Wu won at No. 3 doubles and Uzair Khan and Josh Dunne earned a victory at No. 4.
After the Pitchford Tournament on Friday and Saturday at Hersey, the Redhawks return to DVC play Monday by hosting West Aurora, traveling to Wheaton North on Tuesday and closing out the league regular season with a home meet Thursday against Naperville North, which will have an obvious affect on the DVC meet seeding.
The Panthers play host to Glenbard East on Friday and face Wheaton Warrenville South, West Aurora and Wheaton North next week to close the regular season.
"Naperville Central and Naperville North will battle for the title. We're fighting for third. The Wheatons will be tough this year. I think we could finish anywhere between third and fifth," Clark said.