Joe Tomasi is looking for 21 to be his lucky number.
The varsity tennis coach at San Dieguito Academy (SDA), who is in his 21st year with the school, said he hopes the team has a repeat championship victory, following last year’s success.
Last year’s season – which started with the opening of a new tennis facility at SDA in October 2015 – included the first championship win for the team in more than 20 years.
The SDA boys squad, seeded fourth, won four straight playoff matches last spring to take the SDS Division II title. For that performance, the Mustangs’ first team championship since 1993, Tomasi was named the section’s Coach of the Year.
In the championship contest against San Diego High, SDA won the first 11 matches to clinch the title just one hour into the outing.
Tomasi credits the 12-member team’s confidence levels and determination for earning them the recognition.
“I think the boys, toward the end of our season last year, just finally believed that they could compete with anybody,” he said Feb. 16 during tryouts, a week ahead of the start of the season. “They had great attitudes and confidence levels that got them a little motivated. Everything just fell into place last year.”
All of last year’s players are returning to the team, except for one person who graduated, Tomasi said.
Colton Dils, an 18-year-old senior who described the team as “underdogs,” said they do not see each other as competitors, but as friends.
“We can always tease each other and mess around, but because we have such a good relationship, we can cheer each other on more,” said Dils, who has been on the varsity team since his freshman year.
Cole Urcelay, a 16-year-old junior, agreed.
“Instead of competing with each other for a higher spot on the team, we’re able to come together and just compete against the other teams,” he said.
Cole said the team winning the championship meant they would move on to Division Three, which has six competing schools.
Tomasi said he was not worried about the team competing in a higher division.
He said when his team gets worried about playing against other high-caliber schools, he reminds them what they’re capable of. He added that he believes the team can finish within the top three schools.
“The kids say, ‘Oh man, we have to play these schools,’ and I say, ‘No. We’re one of those schools,’” Tomasi said. “Schools look at us and say, ‘Oh no, we have to play San Dieguito now.’”