The Cathedral Prep tennis team traveled to Hilton Head, South Carolina, for the second straight year. Their Easter Sunday departure started a week of training at the prestigious Van Deer Meer Tennis Academy and playing various teams from around the area under the southern sun. During this time, the team worked to build their mental and physical strength to help them later this season.
The Rambler tennis team spent the first two days training both morning and night with an exceptional group of players and coaches who oversaw their workouts at the Van Deer Meer Academy. Team Captain Joe DeMarco thought there were a lot of benefits from the strenuous training regimen. “It was great for our team to feel the sun on our faces and to hit a lot of balls,” he said. “It’s important we sharpen up our fundamentals as we head into the heart of our season.”
The next three days, the Ramblers were tested by three state championship programs. In South Carolina, much like the PIAA schools, schools are placed into specific classes by enrollment, but public and private schools are also separated.
Their first march was against Hilton Head Prep School. The team boasted a Vanderbilt recruit and was coached by former ATP World Number 6 and Olympic Silver Medalist Wayne Ferreira. After the dust settled, the Ramblers came away with a 5-4 win, with Matt DeMarco’s single win clinching it. Other wins included Alec Thomas and Matt DeMarco in doubles play, and in singles, Alec Thomas, Howard Lang, and Thomas Pritchard all won in straight sets.
The team also squared off against Hilton Head High School. The Sailfish had a perfect record coming in against the Ramblers, and they are the favorite for the state title later this year. A hard fought battle on all courts earned the Ramblers yet another win. They swung their racquets well enough to down their opposition by a score 5-0. In singles action, Joe DeMarco, Matt DeMarco, Alec Thomas, Dave Estes, and Thomas Pritchard all contributed to the win.
“This was a great match for our guys,” said assistant coach Gary Pasqualicchio. “They were playing tough even though they were tired, and it’s these types of matches that will pay dividends in the future.”
In the final matchup of the trip, the Ramblers made a stop at Poter Gaud, a private school in Charleston, South Carolina. The team boasts one of the most impressive lineups in the country, including a Wake Forest recruit. The Prep team fought hard but ultimately fell 3-2 to the Cyclones. In singles, Joe DeMarco and Alec Thomas picked up wins.
“This is a match that leaves a sour taste in your mouth,” he said. “Our guys played tough, but a few points didn’t go our way, and that was the deciding factor. It’s good we get to compete against competition like this, so we can be ready for the state tourney in May,” said head coach Patrick Grab.
The Ramblers return to Erie with a challenging program ahead of them. They play University School, the defending Ohio State Champions on April 20 as well as the McDowell Trojans, the Ramblers’ District 10 rival, on April 23.
Alec Thomas is a former staff writer of The Rambler and a member of the Cathedral Prep Class of 2018.