At an early practice, the Mount’s three returning varsity singles players could not keep their game faces on for very long before dissolving into merriment. Senior Sahar Ali (center) is flanked by juniors Elizabeth Christine and Stow Weiss. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Two-time defending Catholic Academies tennis champion Mount St. Joseph graduated six seniors from last year’s roster, but the Magic are still in good shape at the top of the team ladder.

Current junior Stow Weiss has been playing first singles for the Magic since her freshman year. Her classmate, Elizabeth Christine, went undefeated at third singles in 2015, then moved up to the number two spot early last season. In addition, senior Sahar Ali broke into the MSJ singles line-up during the 2016 campaign.

The standard match format in the AACA consists of three singles and two doubles bouts, and while Mount St. Joe has brought back an intact singles line-up, it will have to replace the four players who made up its 2016 doubles flights, since all of them graduated this spring.

Ali is joined on this year’s team by fellow seniors Bridget Mallott and Emma Mirabella (who appeared in some non-league bouts last fall), Rebecca Koestler, and Mary Skobleranda. Malott and Skobleranda are the team co-captains for the 2016 season.

Juniors Christine and Weiss have company in their class with Liz Meister and Lilly Doyle. Meister has been in the Mount tennis program since her freshman year, while Doyle is new to the court crew.

Joy Grafenstine, now in her third season as head coach of the Magic, has her eye on some promising freshmen. Nancy Mabry, Maggie Newell, Alexis Tran, and Rachel Zilligan are ninth graders who could have an impact on the structure of the varsity.

The Mounties only have a few more practices to hash things out in challenge matches before league play gets underway. They’ll already be facing their first AACA opponent this Wednesday, when they travel to Bryn Mawr to face Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.