St. Viator coach Joe Lascon and Benet coach Mike Hand shook hands after the host Redwings won 5-0 in an East Suburban Catholic Conference dual meet Tuesday afternon and Lascon wished Hand and his team well.
He mentioned Benet's Thursday trip to Carmel and for good reason. The Redwings and the Corsairs are the two dominant teams in the ESCC, and the competition will be a preview of the conference meet May 10-11.
Hand said Benet is hitting its stride at the right time.
"Like every team, we've had problems with the weather and trying to find some consistency, and now I think we're doing that," he said.
Against the Lions the Redwings won all five matches in straight sets. Freshman Riley Marshall won at No. 1 singles and senior Alex Romano won at No. 2 singles.
Senior Grant Gatto and junior Noah Read played together two years ago and were paired up again for last season's sectionals. The pair went 3-2 at state, reaching the fourth round of the consolation bracket.
"I gave them the opportunity and they had to do the work and they have. They have performed wonderfully," Hand said.
The pair was just two points away in a tiebreaker against Libertyville from being undefeated this season. They have beaten the top doubles team from New Trier.
Gatto said fundamentals have been crucial to the pair's success.
"We're attacking the net well and having good serves," he said.
Both are aware of the opportunity they have been given that doesn't come along for everyone. They had a successful state meet and get a chance to go back the following season to improve upon it.
"We want to do as well as we can with it being our last chance to play together and it being Grant's last season," Read said.
Also winning at doubles for Benet were Matt Garvin/Stephen Kovach at No. 2 and Kevin Dawson/Conor Flynn at No. 3.
St. Viator dropped to 2-3 in ESCC with the loss. Lascon said it's been a season of getting valuable experience for a lot of young players.
"We lost 17 seniors from last season. There are a lot of new bodies on the varsity. They have a terrific attitude and work hard," Lascon said.
He complemented the play of junior No. 1 singles player Ryan Abuel.
"His won-loss record isn't that great, but we play a tough schedule. The last week or so, he has really started to build on his game," the St. Viator coach said.