NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA— Episcopal Academy hosted the Inter-Ac girls’ tennis singles and doubles championships on Tuesday, October 16th.
The day began in a round-robin format, with each Inter-Ac team participating in a series of matches, which ultimately determined the pairings for the semifinal rounds in the afternoon.
It was an extremely exciting day for the Churchwomen as they not only won the overall tournament championship, the team also clinched the Inter-Ac due to their undefeated season.
EA was in the finals in all seven tournament matches and won six of them.
The Baldwin School’s third doubles team managed to take a first-place victory against EA with a match score of 8-5.
The Churchwomen then turned around the next day and beat The Baldwin School (4-3) for the Inter-Ac Title.
The deciding match came down to forth doubles as senior MacKenzie Lee and junior Natalie Johnston defeated Baldwin 7-5, 6-4.
EA had quite an amazing season going undefeated (13-0 record, 6-0 league), in an extremely exceptional environment.
“We play a very competitive league and non-league schedule so anytime you go undefeated is quite an accomplishment. We play in a tennis-rich area with outstanding public and private school teams,” said Episcopal Academy head coach Whitaker Powell.
“Lawrenceville is always considered one of the top teams in the area. As a boarding school, they are able to recruit globally so they have a wide range of talent on their team. We beat them for the first time in a number of years.”
Whitaker lauded his team for their dedication and most of all their willingness to step up when needed most.
EPISCOPAL ACADEMY 2018 INTER-AC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
Above: Front row (L-R): captains Bella Calastri and Grace Hennigan. Second row (L-R): Ella walker, Madison Hansenns, Mackenzie Lee, Parisa Afsharian, Cara Harty, Eliza Aldridge. Third row (L-R): coach Powell, Natalie Johnston, Ashley Kennedy, Caroline Burt, Maddy Mitchell. (photo by Zamani Feelings for PSD).
“I think what stands out to me is the selflessness of the girls. My captain, Bella Calastri, played 1 singles two years ago and due to some fortunate circumstances, we brought in two top notch USTA players each of the past 2 years that moved her to 3 in the lineup. She never complained or asked to rotate. “Whatever I can do to help the team win.” She went and did an amazing job at 3 singles all year. Talk about leadership,” said Powell.
Bella Calastri has been a part of this team since 8th grade, now a senior captain, Calastri knew this year was something special.
"At the beginning of our season, we realized that we had a very talented team. However, what led to our successful season was not as much the pure talent as it was the work ethic that our team had. At each practice and match, everyone on the team brought excitement and positive energy and was ready to work hard,” said Calastri.
EA captains Bella Calastri (left) and Grace Hennigan. (photo - Zamani Feelings for PSD).
The Churchwomen adopted the mantra “Train for Thunderbolts”. This statement, according to Powell, became the essence of his team.
“That mantra means, prepare and practice as if anything that possibly can happen will happen and, you are ready for it. Someone wakes up sick the day before a big match and can’t play, we’ve practiced and prepared for all situations. It basically means to be able to roll with the punches but practice with a supreme focus as to never be distracted or allow excuses to creep into your approach when the “plan” goes awry’,” said Powell.
"In our case, our biggest thunderbolt came in our last match against Baldwin. One of our key players was unable to play due to illness and we had to change our lineup to compensate for the loss of one of our best players. Although we had to change our lineup at the last minute, we did not feel in any way discouraged about the match or our ability to pull through with a win, because we had been taught all season to train for a moment similar to this one," said Calastri.
Calastri offered these words of wisdom to her team for next season.
“I would tell them to keep up the hard work and continue to support each other. Tennis, especially singles, is fundamentally an individual sport, yet, high school tennis teams create a unique atmosphere of teamwork. We take the individual sport and make it a team one. Therefore, I think it is very important to emphasize the value of camaraderie and teamwork and its relevance to success.”
“To the underclassmen, I would say believe in yourself, because you will be amazed at the things you can achieve. Each person on the team is vital to the success of the team as a whole. Ultimately, if each person trains hard and has the right attitude, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished,” said Calastri.
Inter-Ac Championship Tournament Award presentation by EA head coach Whitaker Powell.
1st Singles: Champion: EA, Finalist PC
2nd singles: Champion: EA, Finalist BS
3rd singles: Champion: EA, Finalist PC
1st doubles: Champion: EA, Finalist AIS:
2nd doubles: Champion: EA, Finalist BS
3rd doubles: Champion: BS, Finalist EA.
4th doubles: Champion: EA, Finalist GA