Young St. Francis squad gaining experience
The St. Francis boys tennis team is aiming to make a run in the final month after dealing with some adversity and tough defeats.
The Spartans have won two of their 11 matches, playing a tough schedule against much larger schools.
"This has been a challenging year for our boys team as we compete with mainly big schools even though we're a small school," St. Francis coach Tom Castronovo said. "The varsity has only five players back from last year, so this is a very young and inexperienced team which includes two freshmen. We simply don't have the needed depth that many other teams have and, it shows in our record. Fortunately, all of our guys are getting much needed match experience for which there is no substitute."
Number one singles player Kory Carlson, a top-flight tennis player, has been one of the bright spots early in the season. He's won 10 of his first 11 matches to earn a quality ranking in the state.
"Kory did well last year earning all-state and all-conference honors and finished in the top 16 at the state championships," Castronovo said. "I expect that he will improve on that performance this year as he has matured and is playing smart, confident tennis. I expect that he could crack the top 10 in the State's TRPR Singles Power ratings by the time the regular season is over.
"We're just getting to the halfway point of the season and we've got another 13 matches to go before our conference championship. I'm optimistic that we will show continuous improvement at each match."
Timothy Christian boys update:
The Timothy Christian boys team is getting solid production from a number of players, including at No. 1 singles where Tommy King has won eight of his nine matches. Seniors Winston Chen and Sammy Valeo have posted an 8-2 record at No. 1 doubles, with their lone loss a three-setter against Hinsdale South.
"The top of the lineup has reached expectations with the three seniors leading the way," Timothy Christian boys coach Keith Mills said. "They've set the tone and been key to many of our wins. Our only team losses were to St. Ignatius, when we were without Tommy King and a 3-2 loss to a deep Lemont team. I'm always proud to say we play against much bigger schools and can not only compete but win. Tommy King has led the way and a big hitter who overpowers most opponents. Sammy Valeo has also focused on doubles this year and is a perfect compliment for Chen's power game with consistency and quick hands at the net. Sophpmore Hendrik DeVries plays mostly at number two doubles. He's improving his confidence with and riding his aggressive net play.
Mills said he's rounding out his lineup for the final stretch of the season, mainly looking to a combination at number three doubles.
"I need our match strategy to improve knowing when to go for winners and knowing to play defense."
Neuqua Valley update:
Neuqua Valley hasn't played many dual matches this season, but the boys team has been productive. The Wildcats have won three of their four dual matches heading into this weekend's Pitchford Invitational.
"I'm hoping my guys are able to showcase their quality to schools we do not get to see very often," Neuqua Valley coach William Rose said. "This will be every Neuqua Valley player's first time at Pitchford, as well as mine, so we're all a little unsure of what to expect, but we are very excited for the event.
"But our team is playing to my expectations. We're a team that strengthens as the season goes on, so I'm looking forward to seeing our elevated play level these upcoming weeks."
Through the first month, the Wildcats have dealt with some tough losses at singles and doubles, Rose said. Number two singles player Divyye Chawra and No. 2 doubles team of Kai Sun and Tyler Yu are players that Rose mentioned.
The Wildcats lost a key DuPage Valley Conference dual to Metea Valley this season, but Rose said the team might be able to use the defeat as a turning point.
"Some of those matches were pretty tight, but I think that match shows how our conference is really solid across the board," he said.