Connect with us

Girls Tennis

Mercury All-Area: Spring-Ford’s Matriccino comes with more aggressive approach in follow-up to flying freshman year

Remarkable only begins to describe the rookie season of Mia Matriccino with the Spring-Ford girls’ tennis team.

Between winning the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship and leading the Rams to District 1 and PIAA Class 3A team championships, 2020 was a storybook season.

A year later, Matriccino and the Rams said goodbye to being the hunter. This fall, they were the hunted. But Matriccino, now a sophomore, was prepared and ready to bring the fight.

“I’m still trying to learn so many new things so whatever I could gain from after the season last year I wanted to bring to the team this year,” Matriccino said. “I improved my game a lot from last year. I play differently, a lot more aggressive than I did before, which has been a major help.”

Mercury All-Area: 2021 Girls Tennis Teams

Matriccino used her newly-enhanced attacking approach to great success this fall in a 28-1 season that was again worthy of Mercury All-Area Player of the Year honors. She repeated as PAC singles champion and was undefeated against league competition.

Matriccino was even better in team play, going 23-0 during team competition while leading Spring-Ford to a third-straight PAC title and deep run in the postseason by reaching the semifinals of the PIAA Class 3A tournament.

For a sport that largely requires toiling in solitude over hours on the practice court – which Matriccino certainly does with her year-round training at Frog Hollow – she loves the team atmosphere of high school play.

“I was so excited to come back,” she said. “I really missed the girls and I was really excited because we were really successful last year. I was excited to see what we could bring this year.”

There were more team matches this fall after the pandemic-abbreviated schedule of 2020, but that just provided more opportunities for Matriccino to put a marker down for the Rams.

“We got more matches this year and while Mia got some good matches with Alice (Liang) at Methacton and Allison (Root) at Owen J. Roberts, and she plays enough outside of school that it’s not entirely needed, there’s something different about being at a tournament by yourself with a couple people you know versus when you’re here and there’s 29 girls and you’re part of something bigger,” said S-F coach Todd Reagan.

“Getting to play some of the better teams that ended up in districts in the regular season, it was good for her to get the experience of playing tough competition while doing it next to your teammates. There’s that extra bit in your belly that makes you want to win your match for the team.

“You look through her whole season, she didn’t drop a set when she was playing for the team.”

Though never a passive player, Matriccino’s turn into a more attacking, all-court player began with her work with coach Jared Morgan at Frog Hollow in Lansdale and went to another level when she spent a month at the Van der Meer Tennis Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., over the summer.

“I got to play so many different people. I had a match everyday,” said Matriccino, who visited the academy alongside friend and Berks County champion Emma Perkins (Conrad Weiser). “It was just practice but I got to apply all the techniques I was working on here and I got a lot more comfortable quickly because I was playing all the time. I stuck with it because it opens so many new opportunities in a point instead of waiting for errors.

“I was taking all the things I learned and brought it back to my training here and applied it in my tournaments. The week I came back I won my tournament. And I won the tournament after that. It was all starting to make more sense because I was able to apply it so well. Those tournaments gave me more confidence to bring it into the fall season.”

Matriccino wasn’t immune to the pressure Spring-Ford felt after achieving the unprecedented success it had in 2020. After never before winning a match in postseason team play, the Rams rolled through the pandemic-abbreviated postseason to District 1 and PIAA crowns.

But with five of its top 7 – Matriccino, Isabel Mejia and Cady Krause back at Nos. 1-3 singles and doubles team Alexis Luo and Evelyn Mejia – returning, Spring-Ford was in great shape for another big season.

Matriccino famously gave a pep talk ahead of last year’s state final that rallied the Rams. With that sort of history of success, there was no asking out of the vocal leader role she was thrust into this fall.

“It makes me feel really good to be able to help my teammates. Every single match we would come together before our cheer and they would tell me it was my job that I had to give a speech before every match,” she said. “I often said the same thing but it was really about being in the moment and trusting your ability.”

Though out of her comfort zone, she’s shown a desire to help her teammates since joining the Rams. If prematch advice is what’s asked of her, Matriccino is happy to help, even if she never imagined being a motivational speaker.

“No, I never really thought people would want to hear that from me,” she said. “I don’t want people to (perceive) that I’m better than everyone else and that I know more so they should listen to me. They just wanted some help and I just wanted to pitch in. That ended up making me become that role of the team. I didn’t expect that, but I like being that person.”

Matriccino repeated as PAC singles champion on Sept. 25, downing OJR’s Allison Root 6-3, 6-1 in the final.

“I’m very happy with my PAC win,” she said. “I was nervous for PACs because I was playing the same girls that I’d already beaten multiple times in the past but that just puts more pressure on. I was proud to be able to execute what was necessary.”

The one loss on Matriccino’s record was a costly one with her missing a spot in the PIAA singles tournament after a three-hour battle, a 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Council Rock South’s Dasha Chichkina in the second round of districts.

“Districts was definitely disappointing,” Matriccino said. “That was definitely a really tough loss for me, but I ended up being able to bounce back from it.”

Matriccino was 8-0 following the setback all in team matches, including three wins over eventual District 1 and PIAA champion Conestoga, but the Pioneers had the Rams’ number on three occasions, including the season-ending result in the Final Four in Hershey.

“I’m happy with how I did with the team. I went undefeated in singles with the team, which was my goal. Of course we wanted to win states again but I think we still did very well,” Matriccino said. “It’s tough to win states and then get to the semifinals again the next year. I was proud of the whole team for being able to do that.”

Matriccino is already in rare company. Yet the best is likely still to come.

“She’s gonna play a ton of tennis between now and next season and she’s going to come back better, more intelligent, more focused, more determined than this year, which is amazing because she’s the most determined, focused player I’ve ever had in my 18 years here,” said Reagan. “You just know she’s going to come back better in all those facets.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Recent News


More in Girls Tennis