October 6, the Mounties earned their seventh consecutive AACA title, remaining undefeated with a 4-1 victory over visiting Villa Joseph Marie.
Scholastic sports programs have returned to relatively normal function this fall, but for some teams, normal never really left. In the game of tennis, where social distancing is pretty much built in, the Mount St. Joseph Magic played a regular double round of league matches last fall, and won their sixth straight championship in the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies.
Last Wednesday, October 6, the Mounties earned their seventh consecutive AACA title, remaining undefeated with a 4-1 victory over visiting Villa Joseph Marie.
The Jems' lone victory against the Mount came at first singles, where Cassie Gibbs overcame Magic junior Dylan Conroy, 6-2, 6-1. A lot of rival teams in the league are able to field one talented tournament player, and these are the girls that Conroy (a multi-sport athlete who also plays basketball) has to face. Her efforts help make possible the success of her teammates along the team ladder.
The other two MSJ singles players, also juniors, remained undefeated after tackling the counterparts from Villa Joe last week. Beth Murray beat visiting number two Sarah Taylor, 6-3, 6-2, and in the third spot the Magic's Megan Martin swept Erin McFadden, 6-0, 6-0.
Mount St. Joe's first doubles team recorded the same score against the Jems; seniors Ellie Devine and Shanele Tamulevicius maintained their unbeaten streak, as well. At second doubles were two more 12th graders for the Mount. Here, a 6-0, 6-1 victory was recorded for Sarah Fedders and Ellida Meitner.
Mount St. Joseph head coach Joy Grafenstine has been guiding the Magic since the start of their current streak of championships, in 2015. For her first four seasons she had a dominant number one player in Stow Weiss, who is now playing the second singles spot at St. Joseph University. In the same class was Elizabeth Christine, who started out at third singles and then moved up to become a strong number two for the Mount.
"That was beautiful, it made my job very easy," Grafenstine said.
Once that era ended, the Magic would have to rely more on their team depth to overcome league adversaries.
"To be honest, going back to when Stow left and also Elizabeth, I think the girls who were still here had a lot of questions in their heads. When they realized they could still win, that sort of lit a fire under them. They're driven and they're determined to keep our streak going."
This fall, the Mounties won just about all of the AACA matches by scores of 4-1 or 5-0. The one exception occurred in the first match of their season series against Gwynedd Mercy Academy. Gwynedd, which hosted that bout in early September, is coached by Lupe Prince, who coaches the Germantown Academy boys' tennis team during the spring season.
As usual, Mount St. Joe won at second singles and first doubles, but the host Monarchs prevailed in the first singles and second doubles flights. The last match on the court was third singles, where the Mount won the first set and Gwynedd won the second. A 10-point super-tiebreaker was played instead of a full third set, and the Magic's Martin had to go all the way to 12-10 to win the breaker and the match.
In the rematch between the teams at Mount St. Joe's later in the month, the Magic reversed the earlier outcome at second doubles, and won the contest overall, 4-1.
UPDATE: A Mount duo prevailed in the AACA postseason doubles tournament, which determined who will represent the league in the PIAA District 1 tournament. Dylan Conroy and Beth Murray teamed up to form the winning tandem, advancing to the finals and then defeating a twosome from Villa Joseph Marie, 6-2, 6-2.