Mount tennis tri-captains (from left) are Maddie Koestler, Maureen Gallagher, and Maddie Kohler. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The tennis team at Mount St. Joseph Academy started pre-season practice last week with most of the top talent from 2010 back out on the court and eager to seize an Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship. Last fall the league title narrowly eluded the Magic, who made a 15-0 run to reach the finals of the AACA tournament, but were upset there by Villa Maria Academy.

This year the winner will be determined by the outcome of regular-season matches; the AACA playoffs have been eliminated due to the numerous past conflicts with the PIAA district tournaments.

Three athletes graduated from the 2010 MSJ team, and the only singles player among them was number three Catherine Baldasano, who has moved on to Fordham University. However, one of the top returning players, junior Jessica Bonet, has suffered a muscle tear that could have her out of action for the entire season.

Another junior standout, Mary Gorman, is ready for duty, and 7th-year coach Ron Mutchnik indicated that seniors Maureen Gallagher and Emily Marley will also be contenders for the singles spots. In the nick of time, in light of Bonet’s mishap, a new star has arrived on the scene. An experienced tournament player on the USTA junior circuit, incoming freshman Morgan Weiss has made a strong showing in the initial week of practice.

Mount St. Joe’s top doubles team of a year ago returns intact, with Maddie Kohler now a senior and partner Allison Murray a junior. Seniors Maddie Koestler and Kaitlin Kiernan have also played together in the past and should form the second pair for the Magic.

The other seniors on the squad are Elizabeth Marley (Emily’s twin sister), Annemarie Ellman, and Tatiana Ramos, and the returning juniors (in addition to those already mentioned) are Sarina Carr and Morgan Devine.

The Magic are already engaging in important matches this week, meeting with defending AACA champ Villa Maria and fellow league member St. Basil Academy, as well as taking on a nearby non-league team, Plymouth Whitemarsh High School.