The Varsity Tennis team dug deep, drew on their game plan, and maintained their composure to capture the 2021 Friends School League Championship. The second-seeded Tigers beat the top-seeded and 3-time reigning FSL Champions, Moorestown Friends School 3-2 in a riveting match that, once again, came down to the wire. Number Two Singles Mariel Kavanagh ‘22 clinched the Championship when she won her match 6-4, 6-1. Kavanagh's win echoed the last time Varsity Tennis won the FSL Title in 2014 when her sister Caroline, at Second Doubles, also won the clinching match, that time against Shipley.
"The team really gutted it out today. I couldn't be more proud of a team!" said Varsity Head Coach Chris Booth. "We were projected to finish third in the league, behind Moorestown and Westtown, but the team worked so hard."
Seven years ago when GFS Varsity Tennis won the title, Booth served as the Assistant Coach and was cheering on his daughter, Joanna Booth, at First Singles. Booth has served as the Assistant since 2013 and took the reins as Head Coach last year. The Championship victory for Booth -- and his team -- is a culmination of hard work built on a year of no competition due to COVID, focus, and determination.
"Mariel played the match of her life today with the Championship on the line," said Booth. "Her grandparents, who live in Moorestown and attend every GFS match, know the teams well and really believed the match would come down to Mariel. They were right. Mariel really played incredibly well to finish it for us."
The GFS winners in today’s match all beat the competition in two sets. At Second Singles, Kavanagh ‘22 won 6-4 and 6-1. First Doubles Cece Idinopulos ‘23 and Riley Helfrich ‘23 won handedly, 6-1, 6-1. And Second Doubles Madalyn Shen and Joanna Lin beat their opponents 6-2 and 6-4. First Singles Taylor Ford ‘22 and Third Singles Lucy Gerber ‘25 fell short in their matches today but were key contributors to the team’s success. Ford, in particular, locked the win in the Semi Final, earlier this week, in a highly competitive match.
Varsity Tennis boasts a tradition of excellence. Teams have advanced to the Finals eight of the ten last seasons but have fallen short. This season was different: in addition to winning the FSL Title, the team posted a 9-1 league record and 12-2 overall record falling only to Moorestown in the regular season and Germantown Academy by one match.
“It has been an honor to be a part of the Girls Tennis Championship journey," said Katie Bergstrom Mark, Director of Athletics. "I really enjoyed how each player stepped up in different scenarios in the playoffs! In the Semis, the team win rested on #1 singles Taylor Fords racquet. In the Championship, it came down to the matches being tied 2-2 with #2 singles player Mariel Kavanagh remaining on court versus a worthy opponent that she’s battled for her whole high school career! Fellow senior, Joanna Lin mentored 9th grader newcomer, Madalyn Shen at 2nd doubles to make a dynamic and strong duo that put a tally in the winning column. Experienced doubles Cece and Riley refocused from their loss the last time we matched up against MFS and quickly took care of business being 1st off the court. The tenacity of being the under-dog and coming in with a confident plan was on display all afternoon. This was a special day for the Tigers!”
top: Team celebrates FSL Championship!
bottom: Mariel Kavanagh '22