PHILADELPHIA –Thursday afternoon at the Legacy Tennis Center, Cardinal O’Hara’s girls’ tennis team found themselves in a familiar position – center court with the Philadelphia Catholic League trophy in hand.
The Lady Lions defeated Lansdale Catholic 3-2 to claim the rights to their fifth consecutive PCL title.
In years past, O’Hara relied on their strong doubles play to secure two matches in the championship. This season, singles reigned supreme and proved to be the deciding factor in the Lion’s victory.
“This win is a little different because our singles won, we didn’t have the doubles to back us,” said O’Hara senior Anna Marie Degnan. “Normally we have them (doubles), but this time our singles pulled through. A lot of us were down during our matches, but we came back and pulled through. We all really wanted to win, and now that we got the win it feels amazing and it’s really exciting.”
Playing in the No. 1 singles spot, Degnan defeated Lansdale Catholic’s Shannon Carr 6-0, 6-1. O’Hara also claimed the No. 2 singles match, as Caroline Lynch defeated LC’s Casey Meenan 7-5, 6-4. No. 3 singles player Mary Clare Hayden won the final match in Thursday’s championship, defeating Lansdale’s Lindsey Echelmeier 7-6, 6-1. Hayden and Echelmeier’s first set was decided by a 7-3 tiebreaker.
“I felt like I was in a good place because I won the first set and was winning 5-0 in the second set when Caroline (Lynch) got off the court,” said Hayden. “Everyone was watching and cheering along so that helped.”
The Crusaders, who finished the regular season with a 7-0 PCL record, prevailed on both doubles courts. LC’s No. 1 doubles team of Hannah Radi and Becca Tiley defeated O’Hara’s Kathryn Toal and Michelle DiScala 6-3, 6-4. Emily Handschuh and Katie Duffy won the No. 2 doubles match for Lansdale 6-1, 6-1 against O’Hara’s Stephanie Huseby and Mya Bellopede.
Members of Cardinal O’Hara’s championship team were asked to reflect upon their season, noting what attributed to their success and sharing their most memorable moments:
Amanda Shaughnessy (sophomore):“Definitely support. Supporting one another has been a key to our success…Today is most memorable and when we won our last game (vs. Wood), because we were all around and we were all so nervous and were excited to win and move on…I’m going to miss our seniors because they were the best to get to play with and taught me everything I need to know.”
Eileen O’Toole (senior, first year on team):“I definitely had an interest in tennis. My friend Mya (Bellopede) plays on the team and I saw her success and how much fun she had, so I decided to try out. It’s been super fun and fun getting to know all of the girls and playing with my partner Elena (Coffey) and working on our bonding. We really clicked and worked well as a team. It was such a great experience.”
Elena Coffey (sophomore):“We are all just really good friends and we always help each other out, and we goof off, but we also are there to correct each other when we do something wrong…Winning this (the PCL title) is my most memorable moment.”
Mya Bellopede (senior, No. 2 doubles):“To my returning teammates, I would just like to say to give it your all and don’t focus on the past. There is no guarantee that you are going to win the next year. You just have to keep up with yourself and be there for your team. On and off the court you just have to be there for each other.”
Cardinal O'Hara 2018 PCL Champions - PSD Photo
Stephanie Huseby (junior, No. 2 doubles):“My most memorable experience was probably the last match when we played Archbishop Wood. It was such a big game and everyone was working hard. It came down to me and Mya (Bellopede) at the end and we were the only ones left on the court and just stayed mentally tough. It was a huge win for us…As to our success, Patty (Fitzgerald) is such a great coach. All of our drills in practice pertain to our weaknesses and we just get better each day.”
Kylie Seeger (junior):“Our support for each other has attributed to our success, I feel like we are really close together. We help each other win and build up each other’s momentum…Winning this (the PCL title) is my most memorable moment.”
Mary Clare Hayden (sophomore, No. 3 singles):“Our teamwork has attributed to our success, it’s not just one player, it takes the team to win…I felt less nervous this year. I also played singles this year instead of doubles, which is different. I felt more confident.”
Caroline Lynch (senior, No. 2 singles):“We have been practicing so hard the past couple weeks and it has really helped us…It was tough to keep it positive (in my last set) because you know that she (LC’s Casey Meenan) is going to work just as hard as you are. So you just have to win the point…This is my third year winning it (the PCL title), it’s pretty exciting and really fun.”
Anna Marie Degnan (senior, No. 1 singles):“Being a senior, I was really nervous because I’ve been on the team for three years now and we’ve won every year. So, I really wanted to get one more win before I leave and getting it is the best feeling ever. It’s such a relief. I knew my team could do it. Throughout the entire season we just played so well, every single match they tried their hardest and I couldn’t be more happy with my team.”
Cardinal O'Hara 2018 PCL Champions - PSD Photo
Kathryn Toal (senior, No. 1 doubles):“Our coach (Patty Fitzgerald) really knows what she’s doing. In practice, she gives us all the drills that we need. So, my advice (to my younger teammates) is practice hard because Patty knows what she’s doing…Because this win was my last made it more special. In years past, I always had something to look forward to the next year, winning again, but this was it.”
Michelle DiScala (senior, No. 1 doubles):“This win sticks out mostly because I got to play this year (in the final)…My advice for my returning teammates would be to just try your best. Last year, I was fifth doubles and came all the way up to play first doubles. Try your best in practices and I agree with Kat, Patty knows what she is doing and she will help you get better.”
Kayleigh DellaVecchio (freshman):“I’m so excited, this was my first year on the team. I’ve known Anna (Degnan) and she’s really been helping me and I’m just so excited for her, it being her senior year, and for me being my freshman year. It’s just so exciting…My main takeaway for my first year is to constantly remember to move my feet and to take every shot you can, go for every ball that you can and do your best.”
Erin Lynch (Team Manager, freshman):“They all worked really hard and practiced a lot. It was exciting to see my sister win (Caroline Lynch). I’m really happy for her.”
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