NORTHEAST GLENDALE — It’s been a long time, longer than anyone in the Flintridge Prep boys’ tennis program can recall, since the Rebels won a match in the Prep League.
Thus, when first-year Coach Ron Catano said before the season that his team’s goal was to win a league title, it appeared to be folly.
But the Rebels grabbed their first league win in a very long time on Thursday afternoon and, in the process, showed their league title aspirations might not be so far off after all, as they dismantled Chadwick, 14-4, at Scholl Canyon in both teams’ league opener.
“I have no idea actually,” admitted Catano when asked if he knew when the Rebels last claimed a league win. “It’s kind of surprising because I didn’t think it was gonna be this easy.”
The easiest day was to be had by No. 1 singles player Alex Wood, who as a freshman last year was part of the last in a string of winless Prep League campaigns.
“Everyone got better and no one left that played,” said Wood in explanation of the Rebels’ improvement. “[Chadwick] lost a lot of seniors and we all played well. It was a good win definitely.”
Wood swept with 6-0 tallies across the score sheet.
“I was playing pretty good,” he said. “It was fun.”
Wood led the Rebels singles bracket to six wins, including 6-1, 6-4 victories from junior Reza Gheissari.
“Overall, everybody’s playing well,” Catano said. “The doubles, they’re slowly coming along, they’re figuring it out.”
On Thursday, however, doubles was dominant, taking eight of nine sets.
Prep’s No. 1 tandem of juniors John Lee and John Kim showed its resolve, battling to a 7-5, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) sweep.
The No. 2 tandem of sophomores Kent Byun and Eric Kazangian, who are usually in the singles bracket, swept, 6-3, 6-1, 6-0.
Freshman John Chu and Krishan Sutharshana added 6-4 and 6-1 wins.
Prep (6-2, 1-0 in league) opened up the match with a 5-1 first round and was off to a dominant 10-1 start. Lee and Kim provided the match-clinching set win, but it was a match that was never truly in jeopardy, with the Dolphins (1-6, 0-1) reeling from the get-go.
While Prep handily defeating a Chadwick squad that beat it by double-digit margins last season is evidence that times have changed for the Rebels, Catano knows every league match won’t be easy.
“I’m looking forward to our next match cause I don’t think this is an indication of how it’s gonna be,” Catano said.
Rival and perennial league power Pasadena Poly hosts Prep on Tuesday before the Rebels travel to face league favorite Webb on April 18.
While Catano knows a league crown won’t be easy, he’s still optimistic about reaching the goal.
Said the coach: “It’s right there.”