The scenario at the City League tennis tournament was a familiar one yesterday afternoon at Jermain Park.
St. John's Jesuit and St. Francis de Sales would play for City League bragging rights.
The Titans swept the five championship matches from the Knights to secure a third straight league championship.
St. John's, which went undefeated in league play during the season, finished the league tournament with 51 points, followed by St. Francis with 45. Clay placed third with 32 points, followed by Central Catholic with 27, Start 26, and Waite 23.
"The St. John's and St. Francis tennis rivalry goes back a long ways," said St. John's coach Jim Davis, who played for St. John's in the early 1970s. "It's always been a big deal for the kids and it's always special."
Derek Than paced the No. 2-ranked team in the state by scoring a 6-1, 6-4 victory over St. Francis' Steve Cabanski in the No. 1 singles championship match.
Than, a junior, is playing in his first season of tennis at St. John's. Yet, he understands the magnitude of the St. John's/St. Francis rivalry and what it means to win a league team title.
"It is not just about getting the individual title, but the team title is just as important," Than said.
The Titans' actions on the court made it clear they had winning a third straight championship as the focal point of the day.
St. John's Dusty DeLelles stopped St. Francis' Eric Lindsley 6-0, 6-4 to claim the league's No. 2 singles title for the second year in a row.
"We had to take care of business and stay focused," said DeLelles, a senior who also won the No. 3 singles title as a sophomore. "We came in here and got it done."
Tyler Sbrocchi completed the Titans' sweep of the championship singles matches by defeating St. Francis' Casey Filas 6-0, 6-1 in the No. 3 singles title match.
St. John's' Brian Meyer and Rollin Urrutia outlasted the Knights' Jay Kenny and Casey O'Connell to record a 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 win to claim the No. 1 doubles title, while St. John's Eric North and Steve Smith handed St. Francis' Joe Bialorucki and James Joslin a 6-0, 6-1 defeat for the No. 2 crown.
"I think the kids have done a great job this year," said Davis, in his second season as the Titans' coach. "Winning another league championship is great. It never gets old and it's always fun."
St. Francis coach Mark Faber credited the Titans for claiming the league championship.
"All you can ask from your team is to come out and show intensity and effort," Faber said. "St. John's is a good team."
Than, who had defeated Cabanski earlier in the season, said the St. John's coach prepared the Titans for a competitive match from the Knights. He also instructed them to keep their attention solely on their opponents.
"Coach [Davis] told me BCSN [Buckeye CableSystem Sports Network] and the fans would be here for the tournament," Than said. "I just tried to stay focused on my game and block out the cameras and the fans."
For DeLelles, winning the team title completes a couple of his goals for the season.
"This is my last year so I wanted to go out with a bang," he said.
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