Girls Tennis Player of the Year: McCormick upheld family tradition at Episcopal

NEWTOWN SQUARE — The way Episcopal Academy senior Genevieve McCormick remembers it, it was older brother Harrison who started the tennis thing going with the McCormick siblings.

“My parents didn’t play, they’ve always been  runners,” McCormick said while looking back at her senior campaign at the Episcopal tennis pavilion recently. “One day Harrison picked up a racket and the next thing you knew, we were all playing.”

McCormick is joined on the All-Delco team, chosen by the Daily Times in consultation with county coaches, by teammate Nadiyah Browning, a junior, Agnes Irwin junior Camille Smukler and Agnes Irwin sophomore Catie Burkhart and Garnet Valley freshman Marina Zhang. McCormick and Smukler, the two best players in the Inter-Ac League, are repeat selections on the All-Delco team while Browning, Burkhart and Zhang appear on the team for the first time.

McCormick has been clear all along about wanting to attend West Point, just as she has been focused on playing winning tennis on a winning team. She knows how tough it is, having seen her brother survive his brutal plebe year. But she knows she’s tough enough.

“The military thing always appealed to me, both of us really,’ said McCormick, who plans to study Chinese and international relations. “Our grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and that was a big influence on us growing up.’

Genevieve is not the last of the McCormicks at Episcopal either. Younger brother Tristan made the All-Delco second team last spring as a freshman.

But this fall belonged to Genevieve. She was the lone senior on a team that had to outfight archrival Agnes Irwin for the title a year ago. She battled it out with Agnes Irwin’s No. 1, Smukler, on three different occasions, prevailing twice, including a convincing 6-1, 7-5 victory on EA-AIS Day Nov. 7 in McCormick’s final scholastic match.

It’s been that way throughout her career as she went at it with 2013 Daily Times Player of the Year Ryshena Providence of Agnes Irwin for two seasons and then Smukler this year, usually with the Inter-Ac team title or Inter-Ac Tournament title or EA-AIS Day bragging rights hanging in the balance.

“The rivalry between Agnes Irwin and us these last few years has been awesome,’ said McCormick following an 11-1 campaign. “It’s usually the two best players in the league at No. 1 singles.’

McCormick is always working to improve her game. She continues to consult Ari Datta at the Aronimink Tennis Center and Punch Maleka at the Julian Krinsky School of Tennis at the Gulph Mills Tennis Center.

Her Middle States 18s ranking has risen from the 50s to 25, the result of several tournament successes over the summer, including one that stoodmccormick out in her mind.

“I was in a back draw and it was hot,’ McCormick said of her trip to the Mercersburg Junior Open. “It’s not often you play three matches in day, but it happened that day. I won twice and my third match was against a really good player and I beat her in three sets. That was a good day for me. It showed me what I’m capable of doing.’

When the fall season began, McCormick and her teammates had their sights set on claiming an Inter-Ac title that has eluded Episcopal only once since McCormick was first put in the lineup at No. 3 singles as an eighth-grader.

With Smukler out of the lineup with a sprained ankle, Agnes Irwin dropped an early season decision to Penn Charter. But the Owls denied Episcopal the outright crown with a 4-3 win over the Churchwomen that featured an epic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory for Smukler over McCormick.

McCormick, however, bounced back to edge Smukler, 8-5, in the first singles final at the Inter-Ac Tournament, helping the Churchwomen to the team title.

“Genevieve is our emotional leader and our inspirational leader,’ said Episcopal coach Whitaker Powell, who taught McCormick as a youngster and has watched her become Delco’s top female scholastic player. “But it’s more than that, she’s so involved and invested in the team, at practice, off the court.’

All of which made the EA-AIS Day match so important. It had no bearing on the title, but it meant everything to McCormick and her teammates. This was her team and they had every intention of sending her out a winner.

“It was an emotional day,’ McCormick said. “We had played well in the tournament and it meant a lot, on EA-AIS Day from a team perspective. And it was my last match. I got a little emotional before the match in our huddle.’

And then the Churchwomen went out and rolled to a 7-0 victory, McCormick setting the tone with her victory over Smukler.

“What went on in that huddle is that the rest of the team told her they were winning the match for her,’ Powell said.

And that’s exactly what happened. Genevieve McCormick ended her tennis career at Episcopal just the way she has been all along — a winner.


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