Girls tennis: Calm approach helps Episcopal Academy net share of Inter-Ac title

Marple Newtown — Following his team’s heartbreaking 3-2 loss to his Haddonfield on Sept. 26, Episcopal Academy girls tennis coach Whitaker Powell could sense the disappointment on the faces of his young team.

“I wasn’t pleased with the overall effort and commitment to each other,’ Powell said. We had a real heart to heart talk as a team following the match and after that the attitude in practice was better and they were more invested in team success. Sometimes a team needs to face adversity to see what their character is and we considered that the start of our season. I was so proud of the way they rebounded and recommitted themselves to the team.’

Entering each season with the goal of seeing his team develop their own unique personality and improve, Powell firmly believed this match served as the turning point his young but experienced team needed to help lift the Churchwomen to a share of the Inter-Ac title with Agnes Irwin; win the Inter-Ac tournament and earn the decisive point to help EA win “The Banner’ on EA/AIS Day.

The share of the Inter-Ac title was the 12th time in the past 14 years (10 outright and 2 shared) that Episcopal claimed at least a share of the crown.

“I think the important thing is to allow the team to develop its own style and personality,’ said Powell. “No two teams are alike and I have to take a step back and let it develop. I’ve learned to be patient and not rush or force it. That’s something I’ve learned over the years and something that is not always easy because of my personality. This group came together at the right time because of how close they were as a group.

“The Inter-Ac title, along with our win in the Inter-Ac Tournament and our culminating victory over Agnes Irwin (on EA/AIS day) to help bring home ‘ The Banner’, all wove together to shape the best season I ever had on this team,’ said senior co-captain Genevieve McCormick, who will be joining her brother at West Point in the fall. “The results reflect all of our hard work and the way we came together.’

Junior Bella Echevaria added, “Winning a share of the Inter-Ac title was incredible. We came together quickly and I believe a key is Coach Powell’s coaching style. He allows us to form our own unit but he is there anytime we need his advice.’

Armed with a talented but young roster, the only concern was could the younger players learn from last season and pass their knowledge about the tradition EA has established over the past 14 years.

To help ease some concern was the fact most of the younger players had at least two years experience on the varsity ladder.

“As experienced players we did our best to include the younger players and take the pressure they may have felt into upholding the tradition. Our younger players did a great job of competing and playing with heart.’

McCormick added, “I was confident in this team from day one because I saw the determination immediately during the first days of preseason. As a senior it was kind of bittersweet, I could not imagine it ending any other way and I could not be happier with my final season. It truly means the world to me.’

With McCormick, the Churchwomen will lose a special player but they will return the majority of their lineup including junior Nadiyah Browning who played No. 2 singles this year; Echevaria who played No. 3 singles; junior Haley Potter and Kaity Tarte who played No. 1 doubles; sophomores Mimi deLisser and Nina Stavropoulos at No. 2 doubles; sophomores Emily Beinkampen and Eloise Nimoityn, who played No. 3 doubles and freshman Sam Macrides and 8th grader Bella Calastri, who played No. 4 doubles with the other senior Kara Madey who also played No. 4 doubles.




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