1972 Tennis Team (2004)
It is a futile game comparing the greats of different eras, let alone those of the same era. Muhammad Ali or Joe Louis? Notre Dame football 1943, 1946, or 1949? Jim Brown or Jim Thorpe? Loyola Academy tennis teams have dominated the Chicago Catholic League since 1924, winning the title a remarkable 42 times. No teams were more dominant that those led by Father Eugene F. Dwyer, S.J. (Hall of Fame, 1985). His men captured fifteen Catholic League championships in his years, including a string of twelve straight between 1967 and 1978. One of the dominant teams of the Dwyer Dynasty, the 1972 Tennis Team now stakes its claim to the title of greatest ever. Let the arguments begin. The 1972 Ramblers ruled Chicago Catholic League play, defeating archrival Fenwick Friars four times en route to a perfect 14-0 record. The teams stretched its winning streak to 24 straight, a string begun the previous year after the famed 108-match streak was finally broken. At the Chicago Catholic League championships held at Circle Campus, Loyola's racquet men swept the finals to claim another crown and extend Fr. Dwyers and Loyola's stranglehold on the Catholic League. The 1972 Ramblers were paced by their senior captain, big Mike O'Donnell (Hall of Fame, 2004), who stood six-feet, six-inches and whose game towered over opposing teams. He proved unbeatable at number one singles, his massive serve-and-volley game overpowering the opposition. O'Donnell went undefeated, taking both the Catholic League and the Catholic/Public titles at seasons end. His domination of the league earned him the Lawless Award as the top player in the Catholic League for 1972. Domination was not his alone, however. The doubles teams also held complete command of the Catholic League courts. John Donahue, John Muller, Mike Narsete, Joe Ziegler, and Brian Dillon swept to league doubles titles to make the Loyola victory complete. Key contributions to the Ramblers undefeated record came from junior Bob Sierks and sophomores Peter Wallace, Mike Sierks, Mark Reiser, Sherm Reynolds, and Jim Crumley, all of whom gained valuable experience playing singles during the regular season. Any valid discussion of the greatest tennis teams in Loyola Academy must include the 1972 squad, which combined overwhelming firepower with overwhelming depth to keep the dynasty alive.