Phoenix fly past Gators to net first FSL tennis crown since 2008

From the moment Zoe Ginsberg came off the court following her loss at No. 1 singles in the Friends Schools League team finals against Shipley School’s Brit Lovett, her first thought centered on how the rest of her Friends’ Central team was doing in their respective matches.

After completing her match, Ginsberg congratulated her opponent and quickly raced off the court to cheer on the doubles tandem of Sophie Berger and Laura Barr who were involved in a tense match at No. 2 doubles that would decide the outcome.

“I knew it would be very tough for me to win today but I knew out of the whole team that both doubles teams and Madeline (Coss) at No. 3 singles had the best chance of pulling through for the team,” Ginsberg said. ““I actually paid more attention to the other matches more than mine.”

That team-first philosophy Friends’ Central coach Alex Margolies preached all season paid off with his young team bonding as one to defeat Shipley School 3-2 to net Friends’ Central its first Friends Schools League title since 2008.

“My goal this season was to have the girls believe they were playing for each other and not just themselves,” said Margolies, who attended Friends’ Central for 14 years. “Tennis is looked at as individual sport and I believed if I could establish a team atmosphere we could be successful. I told the girls I spent 14 years of my life at Friends’ Central and this school played a big role in making me who I am today and how I think.”

The title marks Friends’ Central’s fifth since 2004 and their third win over Shipley in the finals (2007, 2008 & 2015).

As the girls traversed through the season venturing through the peaks and valleys together, Ginsberg and fellow captain Madeline Coss followed in the footsteps of their predecessors who played a key role in the sustained success of the program.

“We’ve had amazing captains in the past,” Ginsberg said. “We just tried to mirror everything they did. Our biggest goal was to get them to look not just at this year but the future and the years ahead.”

Magolies added, “It means everything to have someone like Zoe as one of our captains. We are fortunate she is a junior and we will have her next year. She is a very talented player whose main attribute is her leadership. She wants to win as much as anyone.”

Friends’ Central quickly put the first two points up courtesy of Madeline Coss at No. 3 singles and sophomore Claire Coss and freshman Julia Nierenberg at No. 1 doubles before Shipley leveled the match at 2-2 thanks to Brittany and McKinley Lovett at No.1 and No.2 singles, respectively.

With a feeling that the match would come down to their position, the Friends’ Central No. 2 doubles team of Sophie Berger and Laura Barr tuned out the gathering crowd and calmed their nerves to earn the point that gave their team the title.

“As I saw the crowd starting to gather I had a feeling our match was going to decide the FSL title,” Berger said following the match. “Laura and I talked prior to the match about how our match would probably decide the match. I knew we had to focus and tune everything out. I am just glad we were able to pull the match out for the team.”

Barr added, “It was really cool. I had a feeling our match would decide the title and it felt nice to be able to pull this out for the team.”

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