Students at the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts are used to dress rehearsals. The school’s tennis team is considering this season’s pursuit of a Public League title just that.
The Pegasus established itself as a contender last week when it advanced to last Thursday’s Public League quarterfinals. CAPA lost 5-1 to Washington, a team it beat twice during the regular season. The Pegagus, who plays its home matches at The Lakes, advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Simon Gratz last Wednesday.
A little more work behind the scenes is sure to benefit the young team, which features one freshman, six sophomores and three juniors. CAPA plays in the Gold Division against some of the city’s top tennis programs, including Central and Washington. Coach John Dunphy, who just completed his fifth season with the Pegagus, is pleased with this year’s results.
"We showed a lot of maturity and growth," Dunphy said. "This was our first showing in Gold. We established ourselves as a major player."
CAPA has managed to thrive despite a lack of tennis courts on the school grounds. The team holds its practices at 10th and Lombard on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The Pegasus was promoted to the Gold Division after finishing 9-0 in the Silver last season. This year, the team exceeded Dunphy’s goal by finishing third with a 7-3 record.
With enough winning seasons, CAPA might just develop the confidence it needs to stage a championship run.
"I think when people think of CAPA, they think we are [just] dancers and actors," said sophomore Danielle Fontaine, a visual arts major. "Everybody did so well this year. Hopefully next year, we will work toward a championship."
Fellow sophomore Hasan Fazelbhoy, who grew up playing tennis in Pakistan, became the top singles player among the boys. It’s quite an accomplishment since he wasn’t even sure he would make the squad as a freshman.
"I just wanted to be part of the team, and I started out as the number-one player the first year out," said Fazelbhoy, CAPA’s captain.
In the Public League, tennis teams play a total of six matches — four singles and two doubles. The matches are evenly split between the boys and girls. Sophomore Joy Ransom, the girls’ top singles player, earned All-Public honors.
Her male counterpart, Fazelbhoy, said he likes the higher status of the Gold Division.
"The big difference is the number-one guys are more respected in the Gold," the player said. "It’s much more serious and more competitive."
For the second summer in a row, he is planning to work out at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center in Manayunk.
His teammates, including freshman Laila Kazi and juniors Dan Blessing, Steve Stonebush and Jake Kuklick, also plan to step up their game. Some of the CAPA players were hoping to earn individual recognition in the Public League’s singles and doubles championships, scheduled to start yesterday.
The successful year is sure to motivate the entire team during the off-season, and may help the athletes achieve their goal of winning a title. The boys’ volleyball team became CAPA’s first championship squad in 2001.
Since the tennis squad is expecting to keep its core intact for two more seasons, the players are actually planning for back-to-back championship runs. Fazelbhoy believes with a little coordination, the squad can have a winning routine.
"We play good as individuals, but we have to improve as a team," he said. Fontaine, who also plays volleyball for CAPA, agrees.
"All of us play really well," she said. "We just need to have a winning mentality and take every team seriously."