Depth is a key component to the success of any sports team, but having a substantial amount of talent on a tennis team is even more rewarding.
OPRF’s tennis team is stocked with experienced players this season, and the Huskies have one goal in mind: A Top 10 finish at state.
It’s far from a lofty goal, for OPRF finished 18th overall at the IHSA State Meet last year. Several players from that team have returned to the court this season. Jake Cappel is back at the No. 1 singles position. Cappel is nationally ranked and, according to OPRF head coach John Morlidge, playing some of his best tennis right now.
“He’s really on top of his game,” said Morlidge of the senior. “I’ve been impressed with his play in the preseason.”
Luke Mansour will also take on a singles spot this season. Mansour was on the varsity squad last year as a freshman.
Doubles players Kevin Walsh, Aaron Press and Jared Connelly also return to the lineup. All three competed at state last year.
The last time the Huskies finished in the Top 10 at state was the 2000-01 season. They finished fifth, mirroring their mark from the year before.
“I think this team is certainly capable of accomplishing its goals this season,” said Morlidge. “They need to stay healthy and stay focused.”
Morlidge has a secret weapon in freshman Mike Jacobs, who is slated to play both singles and doubles throughout the season. Jacobs will pair with Connelly in doubles action, said Morlidge. The duo is currently ranked No. 1 by the Chicago District Tennis Association.
Other players expected to make a significant impact this season include Tim Martin, Hari Vigneswaran, James Kutil, Seth Sankary, Jean Luc Mosley, Mike Haeiferman, Charlie Mueller and Doug Goodsmith.
First and foremost the Huskies want to win the West Suburban (Silver) Conference. The team will need to go through Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township, who finished third and sixth respectively at state last season. Both teams return the bulk of the players that competed at state.
“It won’t be an easy task, but this team can make a run at it,” said Morlidge of a conference title. “There won’t be a whole lot of room for error.”
Other “killer” challenges for the Huskies this season include the Hersey Invitational at the end of this month, and the Hinsdale Central tournament in a few weeks.
“Those will be some tough tournaments,” said Morlidge, “especially the Hinsdale tourney because eight of the top teams will be there.” Defending state champ Deerfield and runner-up New Trier will be at the tournament. “It’ll be interesting,” said Morlidge.
The Huskies served up a walloping in its season opener on Saturday. The team
finished first with a score of 52 at its own Rudy Witsman Invitational, outplaying Evanston (34), St. Ignatius (32), Loyola (26) and others.
Cappel won at No. 1 singles, defeating Mark Maciuch of Loyola 6-3, 6-4, while the first doubles team of Connelly and Jacobs won their title match 6-4, 6-2.
Other winners included Aaron Press and Kevin Walsh, who defeated St. Ignatius 6-2, 6-1 to win at No. 2 doubles, and the third doubles duo James Kutill and Tim Martin, who defeated Evanston 6-2, 6-2.