The only opponent keeping the Bryn Mawr tennis program from an even more perfect regular season Thursday was Mother Nature. Two varsity matches against Archbishop Spalding were called off because of afternoon rains; instead of 45-0, the Mawrtians were only 43-0 after their nine matches. “Undefeated,” some smiling players said softly after a session lasting less than 45 minutes.
But the junior varsity hadn’t even gotten to play. Which meant … what, exactly, for its own unbeaten season?
“They were worried, a little bit,” co-coach Matilde Taborda-Almaguer said. “They were asking if they were still undefeated or whether that would put a damper.”
“Oh, we’re just going to be 8-0 instead of 9-0,” co-coach Kate Brendler recalled saying.
“Technically,” Taborda-Almaguer said, “it wasn’t a loss.”
Not that they’d be able to tell you what one looks like. After Thursday’s 3-0 home win, sweetened afterward by slices of cake honoring the team’s three seniors, Bryn Mawr heads into next week’s Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championships at McDonogh without a defeat this season in any of the standard five matches (two singles, three doubles).
It’s a mark without recent precedent. According to IAAM A Conference standings dating to 2010, the team closest to a perfect regular season was Roland Park, which in 2012 went 44-1 in its nine wins. The Mawrtians are undefeated since 2015, but neither of their past two teams approached this year’s goose-egg excellence.
“They feel the pressure, in a good way, to carry on,” Taborda-Almaguer said. “They feel pride in that. With that comes a little responsibility. They don't want to be the team to drop the ball. That is also an added incentive to an extent, to really keep that going for as long as they can.”
Every perfect season needs a moment of adversity, and Bryn Mawr’s came Sept. 28 at Garrison Forest. The Grizzlies lost, 5-0 — they are otherwise 40-0 this season — but on another day might’ve won. And more than one match, too. Three of the matchups were decided in a tiebreaker. “Very lucky,” Taborda-Almaguer said of the result.
“What we keep telling our girls is, every match, anything can happen,” Brendler added.
But when the toughest work comes in practice, as it often does for the Mawrtians, the outcomes become self-perpetuating. The junior varsity’s undefeated streak is up to five years now. Half of this year’s eight-girl team were newcomers to varsity. All five IAAM championship entrants are expected to be No. 1 seeds. What comes next seems inevitable.
“I hope we end undefeated and finish what we started,” sophomore Abbey Hurlbrink said. “I think that we just have to stay focused on our goal from the beginning and just keep going, keep winning.”
Lindsay Thompson d. Alaina Ashbeck, 8-0
Jasmine Abass vs. Paige Gunning suspended (rain)
Emily Zhang/Sona Kukreja d. Kate Woynerowski/Julia Jenings, 8-3
Hrithika Bhambhani/Abbey Hurlbrink d. Grace Bledsoe/Audrey Donahower, 8-0
Cynthia Somers/Camilla Schreiber vs. Emily Dodd/Sara Rumpler suspended (rain)