There can be a tinge of bittersweetness for City League teams that share titles in sports in which the overall champion is determined by putting equal worth on round-robin dual results and the season-ending league tournament.
Yet Kapaun Mount Carmel boys tennis coach Chip Reed figured the Crusaders would have to make room for Bishop Carroll last spring despite defeating the Golden Eagles and the rest of the league in duals.
“Last year, I kind of knew we really had a good dual team,” Reed said. “There wasn’t much difference between (Nos.) 1 and 5, and 6 was a good player. But we didn’t have a good tournament team.”
Carroll won the league tournament by 23 points over Kapaun to join the Crusaders as co-champions. This year, with a new player on board and an old one back in the fold, Kapaun hopes to have all of its competitive bases covered.
Reed said Tommasso Domeniconi, an exchange student from Italy, earned the No. 1 singles spot in team challenge matches. He will miss Thursday’s season-opening dual at East due to a prior commitment with his host family, but is expected to boost the Crusaders when he returns.
“I was surprised when I hit with him,” Reed said. “I’ve seen other foreign exchange students from places like South America. They’re really good singles players, and tend to hit the ball with a lot of top spin.
“We played some doubles, and he’s really good at that, too. He hits a good, deep ball, and approaches and does everything right at the net.”
Domeniconi will be backed by junior Mason Born, who played for Kapaun as a freshman before transferring to Andover for a year. Born finished second at No. 1 singles in the CL meet two years ago. He was 10th in 5A singles with Andover.
“He’s a lot more mature now,” Reed said. “When he played with us before, he was a freshman and the rest of our team was older. When I hit with him, I could just tell he’s stronger.”
The Crusaders also return senior Dustin Herman, who paired with Kaleb Peaden to finish ninth in doubles at last year’s 5A tournament. Peaden has since graduated.
Reed, who doesn’t like to cut players, credits Herman’s dedication to the sport for his success.
“Simply put, Dustin was horrible as a freshman,” Reed said. “He has put in the work. After that freshman year, he was hitting three or four hours a day off the wall. He kind of made himself into a player.”
A potential replacement as Herman’s doubles partner is sophomore Jason Searl, who is out for the first time after playing golf last season.
“He’s played a lot of tennis and decided to switch over,” Reed said. “That’s a real break for us.”
Juniors Peyton Miller and Bruce Moore will get chances to contribute, as well. Miller, a former baseball player, has “hit tennis hard the last 18 months,” Reed said. Moore has battled pneumonia and will miss Kapaun’s opening dual, but like Herman, his commitment has paid off.
“This year, I feel like we’ve got a tournament team and a dual team,” Reed said. “Our top four are really strong, and 5 and 6 have played all winter and all year. Those six should be really good.”