The Fenwick High School boys tennis team featured several outstanding student-athletes in Colin Fitzpatrick, Mike Cahill, David Hausken and John Mullen last season. Mullen and Cahill have moved on to Notre Dame while Fitzpatrick is at Indiana.
While it’s never easy replacing a class of that caliber, head coach Gerard Sullivan loves the mix of players currently representing Fenwick.
“Last year’s seniors were just great guys. They were very reliable and consistent on and off the court,” Sullivan said. “This year’s group is greener but actually more talented in terms of tennis. I’ve been impressed with them because they are gamers. We reloaded well with a nice blend of players. The next couple of years look promising.”
Much of Sullivan’s optimism emanates from the Friars’ tandem of underclassmen singles players, Carlos Gutierrez and Billy Bruce. Gutierrez, the younger brother of Fenwick senior tennis star Laura Gutierrez, has the potential to be an impact freshman.
“Carlos is a little above the rest of my players,” Sullivan said. “He has a lot of tournament experience. He’s a big kid, too, for a freshman. I think he can handle the workload.”
Sophomore Billy Bruce is slotted to play No. 2 singles. Bruce is a natural athlete who went downstate with the Fenwick golf team and also played on the undefeated sophomore basketball squad before being called up to the varsity for the state playoffs.
“Billy has played tennis for years but because he’s a multi-sport athlete, he’s not playing tennis every day.” Sullivan said. “When he does play tennis regularly during our season, he gets really good. He developed very quickly over the course of last season and competed in the sectional meet.”
Junior Nico Halter could see No. 3 singles action as well as playing No. 1 doubles. Along with Halter, team captain Danny Reardon and Kevin Donahue are top doubles players. Those three could play doubles together in assorted combinations.
“Danny is a high-energy player and all-around leader,” Sullivan said. “Kevin went to the No. 3 singles championship match in the Catholic League last year. He’s a very athletic kid who improved a lot over the summer and will play more doubles this season.”
Juniors Antonio Bosco, Jeff Cappelli, Ryan Castellano and Mike Prabhu, plus senior Pat Ebzery, provide enviable depth. They could all be in the mix for playing time at second and third singles and doubles.
Fenwick has fared well early this season with a fourth-place finish at the TroyTriad Invite and a 3-2 Chicago Catholic League dual meet win over Brother Rice.
Although Loyola is the favorite to repeat as CCL champs, Fenwick and St. Ignatius have a shot at dethroning the Ramblers.
“We were neck and neck with Loyola last year in the conference finals,” Sullivan said of the Friars’ runner-up showing. “Loyola, St. Ignatius and we are the three top teams. We’re going to do our best to hang with these teams and give them good matches.
“I kind of know where our players rank, but the lineup is flexible. We have a really wide range of players which I really like about this year’s team.”
The Friars take on host University High in Chicago on Wednesday, April 6 at 4:30 p.m. Fenwick then welcomes Montini to Taylor Park on Thursday, April 7 for a 4 p.m. nonconference dual match.