Mount tennis begins quest for seventh consecutive championship

by Tom Utescher
Posted 9/4/21

Last Tuesday the tennis team at Mount St. Joseph Academy officially began its quest to capture a seventh straight Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship.

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Mount tennis begins quest for seventh consecutive championship

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Last Tuesday the tennis team at Mount St. Joseph Academy officially began its quest to capture a seventh straight Athletic Association of Catholic Academies championship.

On their home courts, the Magic took down AACA rival Merion Mercy Academy, 4-1, winning everything except the first singles match. While the AACA still abides by a three-singles, two-doubles match configuration, the Mount has no trouble finding extra players for matches that follow the PIAA's standard three-four format.

During the last full week of August, the Magic knocked off two nearby public school teams in scrimmages, defeating Abington High School, 4-3, and Plymouth Whitemarsh, 7-0.

Five seniors graduated off of Mount St. Joe's 2020 team, including longtime singles mainstays Grace Walker and Rachel Zilligen. Last year's first doubles combo has been split up, since junior Beth Murray has moved into the singles flights while senior Shanele Tamulevicius continues on in pairs play. The second doubles tandem from 2020 evaporated as one of the partners graduated and the other, currently a senior, decided to lay down her racquet.

Now joining forces with senior classmate Ellie Devine, Tamulevicius returned to first doubles play in the league with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Merion Mercy's Grace Dever and Katie Gallone. The second doubles flight is also staffed by a pair of 12th graders; Sarah Fedders and Elida Meitner downed Sarah Maloney and Olivia Currier of the Merion Golden Bears, 6-2, 6-3.

Fedders and Tamulevicius are the Mount team captains for 2021.

Beth Murray, meanwhile, has moved up to second singles, marking her league debut by taking two 6-1 sets from visitor Katherine Wert.

Another junior, Dylan Conroy, has moved up from second singles to first singles this year. Last Tuesday she encountered one of the top players in the league, and she fell to Merion sophomore Ashley Gomes, 6-0, 6-0.

This would be the Magic's only setback, though, as a third junior, Megan Martin, took a pair of 6-0 sets from Merion number three Willoughby Galbraith. Martin came out for the MSJ tennis squad for the first time this season.

Two new administrators at the Mount, Principal Elizabeth Blessing and Dean of Student Life Elle Rupert, turned out for the Merion match to support the team and get to know their student athletes.

Joy Grafenstine is back for her seventh season as the Magic's head tennis coach, and it's the third season for assistant Kate Murray (mother of Beth).

In addition to the players slated for league matches, the Mount mentors assigned half-a-dozen other athletes to participate in the recent bouts against public schools, with their four doubles flights. They are seniors Anna Emma and Maggie McMorris, and juniors Claire Costigian, Mia Ferraro, Mary Regan, and Emma Stromberg.

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