Kapaun boys complete City League tennis sweep
A sweep of the top singles and doubles brackets helped Kapaun Mount Carmel’s boys complete a City League tennis championship season Saturday.
Singles player Tommaso Piani and doubles partners Fred Oxler and Dustin Herman helped Kapaun win the league tournament, which combined with an unbeaten regular-season record completed the overall league title.
Kapaun coach Chip Reed said it was important to win the league title outright after sharing it with Bishop Carroll last year. Carroll finished second Saturday.
“We faced a lot of adversity, and for those guys to come through and still win it with our JV guys playing the tournament today, that is just huge for me, and huge for them,” Reed said.
Oxler typically isn’t partnered with Herman, but the two worked well together to take the first-place spot with a championship victory over Carroll’s Patrick McKenzie and Jozsef Szucs.
Reed said Oxler was concerned about getting hit in the back by Herman because of how hard he hits the ball. Herman nailed him in the first match, but that didn’t stop the two from taking the championship.
With Carroll ahead 5-2, Kapaun battled back as an ace by Herman tied the set at 5. The teams exchanged points, but Kapaun came out on top in a tiebreaker to win the set 7-6.
“We broke their serve and held ours and went into the tiebreaker and just carried it from there,” Herman said.
After Carroll took a 2-1 lead in the second set, Oxler kept the ball alive with difficult shots and high lobs to tie things up. Oxler said lobbing the ball over the net man and keeping the ball going back and forth was one of his biggest strategies in the match.
With a 5-4 lead, Herman started the final game with another ace to give Kapaun the momentum to win the second set 6-4.
In singles, Piani defeated West’s Derek Drew to win 6-3, 6-3. After getting behind 3-1, Piani won the next five games of the first set.
Piani carried that energy forward to win the first three games of the second set before Drew tried to mount a comeback.
“The beginning of the second set I felt really good, and then my energy dropped all at once and I felt like I needed to come back some way,” Piani said.
With the 3-2 lead, Piani won the next two points, showing good range both at the net and from the baseline. Drew won another game, but Piani came out on top to win the set.
Reed said he thinks Piani, a foreign-exchange student from Italy, has taken to tennis because of the lack of team sports where he comes from.
“I think he really likes being part of the team, the team likes having him,” Reed said. He’s just having fun at practice and being with the boys and all of the team stuff that I think he misses out on in Italy.”
Reed was satisfied with the results of the meet after bringing up a pair of seniors to play at a higher level than they were accustomed.
“For those kids, to do everything right, to get a chance to play in the City League tournament, to be a part of this championship, I’m so happy for them,” he said.
Team scores – Kapaun 62, Carroll 58, Northwest 46, West 37, Heights 33, East 21, Southeast 16, North 14, South 5.
No. 1 Singles – 1. Piani, Kapaun, def. Drew, West, 6-3, 6-3; 3. Dunn, Heights, def. Law, Carroll, 6-2, 6-1; 5. Powers, Northwest, def. Gridley, East, 8-1.
No. 2 Singles – 1. Nguyen, Carroll, def. Quintana, NW; 3. Khan, North, def. Tran, Heights; 5. Garza, Southeast, def. Bhakta, West, 8-7 (7-6).
No. 1 Doubles – 1. Herman-Oxler, Kapaun, def. McKenzie-Szucs, Carroll, 7-6, 6-4; 3. Hewitt-Wakim, Northwest, def. Thomas-Bhakta, West, 6-3, 6-2; 5. Wimes-Barnes, East, def. Swearinger-Dakis, Southeast, 8-7.
No. 2 Doubles – 1. Ward-Thom, Carroll, def. Miller-Moore, Kapaun, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2; 3. Wittse-Minter, Northwest, def. Coell-Carrillo, Heights, 6-5 (retired); 5. Branstetter-Hetrich, East, def. Stujillo-Strifler, North, 8-0.