Boys Tennis: Joey Leto a leader for Downers South
Updated: April 10, 2012 11:26PM
Joey Leto wants his senior year to be one that he will remember for a long time. The Downers Grove South tennis captain has put in the time and training that he hopes will bring himself and his teammates to unprecedented heights in his school’s history.
Leto shed 10 pounds before the season started and then along with his teammates went through grueling training sessions at Get Fast, Inc., in Willowbrook. The early results have been promising for the Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit.
‘‘It’s ridiculous the stuff they put us through,’’ Leto said. ‘‘Each and every one of us, their goal is to make us fail during workouts. It’s helped my overall confidence.’’
‘‘The conditioning is huge in improving his game,’’ Downers South coach Peter Freischlag said. ‘‘In the past, he would have a hard time just making it through those sessions but this time he led the way.’’
Leto finished tied for 13th in the state in singles last year and helped lead his team to a 10th-place finish. In his three years on varsity tennis, he has helped the Mustangs to three sectional titles and a school-best, eighth-place finish in his freshman season.
He thinks both he and his team can do even better.
‘‘We basically have our whole team back plus my brother [Tony], who is playing [No.] 2 [singles] for us, which is really good,’’ Leto said. ‘‘We feel we’re a top-five team in the state on our best day.’’
Leto started the season 10-0, including a recent victory over Hinsdale Central’s Sam Bloom. It was the first time that Leto has beaten Bloom in several matches.
Leto had to rally after dropping the first set and then won on a tie-breaker in the decisive third set.
‘‘You can’t worry about what did happen or will happen in a match,’’ Freischlag said. ‘‘That’s maturity on Joey’s part. Joey was very calm throughout the entire match.’’
Leto was mentored by his father Jim, who never played tennis in high school or college, but picked up his love of the game as an adult and has spread it on to his sons. The role of mentoring other players has now fallen to Joey as the leader of his team and he has adapted to it well.
‘‘The other day at Edwardsville, he walked up to our young sophomore and put his arm around his shoulder and talked to him about what he did well in a loss,’’ Freischlag said. ‘‘Joey has really stepped up and embraced that role of teammate.’’
‘‘My best friends are right here,’’ Leto said. ‘‘We have a great feel on our team. It’s just fun and representing your school; it’s just cool. It’s nice to be out here helping a team.’’