GLENDALE — Through nearly the first month of the season, it’s been enjoyable for the members of the St. Francis High tennis team to arrive at the court ready to compete.
Backed with a steady group of singles players and more depth than its had in recent memory, St. Francis is looking to make a charge for a top-three spot in the Mission League and a postseason appearance for the second time in three seasons.
“They have that confidence and it starts with coming to practice prepared,” said St. Francis Coach Ron Zambrano, whose team registered a 15-3 league home win against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame on Thursday at Fremont Tennis Center. “That confidence level can take them a long way.
“It’s easily one of the deepest teams I’ve had in the last 12 years. We realize it’s a journey and that we haven’t yet accomplished anything, but we are on our way.”
St. Francis improved to 8-1, 2-1 in league and topped Notre Dame (1-6, 0-2) in the first of two head-to-head meetings. St. Francis and Notre Dame will meet again April 8 at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana.
On Thursday, St. Francis turned to its singles trio of Kristian Esteve, Mostafa El-Harazi and Alex Kevakian, all of whom swept their three sets. Esteve won, 6-1, 6-1, 6-0, followed by El-Hazari’s line of 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 and Kavakian’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 tally.
Esteve, a senior, said St. Francis is seeking to improve on its fourth-place finish in league from last season.
“I think we have a lot of potential,” Esteve said. “I think we have a good shot at second place.
“One thing you realize about tennis is that’s it’s normally a dogfight. You learn that you can’t be worried and just go out there having fun and trying to make big shots. We have a better overall team than we’ve had in the last three years. We’ve always seemed to have some good singles teams, but now we seem to be a lot stronger in doubles.”
St. Francis won six doubles sets. It received sweeps from Greg Alle and Jack Freer (6-0, 6-2, 6-2) and Sam Hood and Leo Amatullo (6-2, 6-3, 7-6(7-1).
St. Francis, which has posted nonleague victories against La Cañada, Crescenta Valley and Flintridge Prep, will next compete in a league road match Tuesday against Loyola at Sycamore Courts in Los Angeles.