DOWNINGTOWN >> For a high school tennis coach to net 500 wins means they have been doing the job for an extended period of time, accompanied by talented players that come together to earn the four points needed to win a match.
Conestoga girls tennis coach Fran Tomaselli fits both molds. Throughout her 41-year career Tomaselli’s teams have won 17 Central League titles and have made 10 appearances in the PIAA Class AAA state tournament.
On Monday afternoon at the Becky Desmond Courts on the campus of Downingtown West High School, Conestoga displayed its depth like it has done so many times registering a 5-2 win over the hosts to give Coach Tomaselli her 500th career victory. All of her wins has come at the helm of the Conestoga girls’ tennis team.
“I would be lying if I said this doesn’t mean anything,” Tomaselli said following the match. “It’s very special. However you can’t achieve a milestone like this without having a great program filled with talented players. This is a special time and its a very special goal that’s a tribute to the team.”
“This is awesome,” said Conestoga senior co-captain Maddie Wood who has played doubles and singles on the varsity team throughout her four-year career. “We really don’t get a chance to celebrate something she has accomplished. Usually she is celebrating something I or the rest of the team has accomplished. All four years I don’t think I have been a part of something this big for T-Bone (Coach Tomaselli’s nickname) and not us as a whole.”
“It was really cool to be part of such a successful team when I was in high school,” said Lauren Banner, who played first, second and third singles during her career at Conestoga. “During matches we would always hear Coach Tomaselli cheering from behind the fence and dig a little deeper. She created such a supportive environment that those wins meant something extra.”
Conestoga athletic director Kevin Pechin said, “Coach Tomaselli’s dedication and commitment to the students and athletes for 41 years is something you don’t see anymore. We are extremely grateful to have her as part of Conestoga community. She is a tremendous asset and this is a well-deserved accomplishment.”
On Monday, missing three players in her doubles starting line-up, Tomaselli made a couple of adjustments to her top two teams; moved her fourth team to third and a tandem that does not get a chance to play as much as they would like up to fourth.
Conestoga held a 3-2 lead with two doubles matches left on the court that had the chance to go either way. Things did not look good early for Minju Kim and Abby Frantz, who were paired together at fourth doubles and were staring at a 3-1 deficit in the first set. The pair just stayed composed to pull off the straight set win to clinch the match and Coach Tomaselli’s milestone victory.
“It’s great to see them get this win,” said Tomaselli. “It just speaks about the team concept we teach at Conestoga and it’s nice to see everyone get a chance to step up and contribute.”
“It’s awesome,” said Wood. “Coach Tomaselli is always encouraging us to work harder and get better because you never know when you will have that chance to step up and help the team.”
Banner, who now attends Tufts University added, “Coach Tomaselli taught us to play to win. Playing to win means how you play is more important than winning or losing. She inspired us to leave it all on the court for ourselves and for our teammates. I think that is what makes the Conestoga tennis team so successful.”
The Whippets got on the board first thanks to Jordan Bradley’s straight set win at first singles. Just as she has done many times throughout her career, Maddie Wood dug deep to dig out a win and produce Conestoga’s first point to even the match.
After Holly Koons gave the hosts a 2-1 lead with a straight set win of her own, the Conestoga doubles teams took over winning all four courts to send Conestoga home with a very important win with the district tournament right around the corner.