Number one singles player Olivia Fiechter ’14 came off the court, having made quick work of her Westtown counterpart. Five minutes later, co-captain Anna Bezahler ‘13 emerged victorious from her bout with Westtown’s number two. By the end of the contest the Tigers had won four out of five matches, steamrolling their Friends School League rival.
Winning has been the norm recently for the Tigers. In 2011 they capped an undefeated fall season by winning the Friends Schools League title, and have roared to a 10-2 start this year, knocking off notable Inter-Ac squads Germantown Academy, Springside Chestnut Hill, and Penn Charter.
“We are one of the best teams in the Friends Schools League,” said first doubles player Hannah Ceisler ’14.
The team’s success has come after losing its 2011 top singles player, Joanna Booth ’15. Joanna, who won 17 out of her 18 matches last year, decided to leave the team to focus on her individual career.
“Colleges don’t really look at your high school career,” said Joanna. “I got way more practice outside of school. Also, when we had matches on Fridays, I would miss a lot of tournaments. I could do both, but in the end both sides suffered from being inconsistent.”
The time commitment of high school tennis, when coupled with her individual instruction, meant that Joanna didn’t start her homework until 9 pm on some nights. “Freshman year was really rough on my schedule,” said Joanna.
Joanna hopes her training and dedication will allow her to play in college and professionally, and appreciates the hard work, both physical and mental, involved in reaching those goals, admitting that “most of the matches that I’ve lost, it was because I was frustrated with myself and didn’t have a clear mentality.”
The team was disappointed to lose Joanna but respected her decision. It was apparent that “doing both wasn’t an option for her,” said Anna. As a result, team members had to fill the void left by Joanna.
“We all realized we just had to work harder and play even smarter than before,” said Hannah.
Olivia Fiechter slid into the number one spot and has excelled in that role. As a recent addition to the United States’ Women’s National Squash Team, Olivia’s racket skills are extremely polished.
“Her squash talents translate exceptionally well,” said coach Kim McMenamin. McMenamin offered high praise of Olivia’s slice backhand, which lands deep in the court and gives her opponents fits.
Another player who has risen to the occasion for the Tigers is junior Emma Clark, who has been a key asset to the team at the third singles position. “She’s been way more consistent and patient,” said McMenamin, which showed in a 6-3, 6-1 beatdown of her Notre Dame opponent.
Perhaps the most significant component of the Tigers’ success has been the leadership of Anna, co-captain Lauren Shinn ’13, and Ameena McKnight ’13. Their experience has been a valuable asset to the young team, and all have excelled in their matches this year.
Joanna has toyed with the idea of returning to the team, but has put off that decision until senior year. “I definitely miss the team…If I am committed to a college, or at least have everything planned out…I’ll definitely consider coming back to the team.”
“We would welcome her back,” said McMenamin, “with a certain level of commitment.” Joanna could only help the team, although with the way the season’s been going, she may not be needed.