There are few high school sports teams and individuals in Harford County that have had a decent amount of success when it comes to state level play and culminating with a coveted state championship.
Tennis is not one of the few.
Meadow Santoriello, a junior at Patterson Mill High School, was hoping to change that, but like all others, the coronavirus pandemic put a halt to it.
Santoriello is the defending Class 1A state champion in girls singles, having won the title as a sophomore last May, 6-0, 6-0 in the final. “It was very, I’m very proud of it, I worked really hard for it and I’m glad that I could represent my county and my school and myself,” Santoriello said. The win was the first-ever in girls singles for a Harford player.
The title was just the fifth for any Harford County public school tennis singles or doubles player in tournament play that began in 1975.
John Graybeal of Bel Air won the first title (boys singles) for Harford County in 1977, while Bel Air teammates Patty Owen and Kim Fleming were girls doubles champions in 1978.
Danielle Hess and Timothy Rohrbaugh, also from Bel Air, were mixed doubles champions in 2000, while the C. Milton Wright girls doubles team of Jessica Ahn and Anita Sahu were champs in 2004.
All of those championships came in an open tournament format with all school classifications competing against each other. In 2019, the state tourney was broken down into the state four school classifications.
So, Santoriello had a real strong chance to make more history this Spring. Another win will make her the first Harford County player with multiple sate titles.
“Of course it’s the disappointment that I’m not gonna be able to defend my title this year, because it’s something I looked forward to, but I am looking forward to having that chance, senior year and I’m going to focus really hard in order to achieve it,” Santoriello said. “It’s going to mean everything to me, especially now, that nobody’s done it, and I know that. I want to, hopefully push that goal and show people, that people from Harford County can defend it, twice and if this didn’t happen, maybe, possibly three times.”
Like everybody else, though, Santoriello saw her season stopped and canceled. "This year, because of basketball, we made it to the regional final so, even though tryouts and practice already started I was even late to that, too, so my already short time was shortened furthermore,: she said. “So, when I started I was really determined to defend my title and I knew that was achievable since I’d done it last year, but at the same time, I knew I was going to have to work twice as hard because people have already seen me play at that level.”
Still, Santoriello was ready to go. “I was really excited and really ready to work, I had an awesome team this year and practices were going great, but then all of this happened and obviously I understand, it got cut short.”
As a freshman, Santoriello nearly won a girls doubles state title with older sister Brooke Santoriello. The pair was beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Annie Dong and Ellie Esterowitz of Thomas Wootton. The older Santoriello attends and plays tennis at Loyola University where she is a sophomore.
Meadow Santoriello misses school. “I obviously miss my friends, I miss the school in general, I miss my teachers. We all made tight relationships and you see somebody every day and now you don’t see them for over a month and it’s crazy,” she said. “I do miss all of them and I miss the school environment of everybody just working together and since it is my junior year, this is a very important academic year for me as well. It’s disappointing that I won’t be able to be in school with the people that I know are around me to support me for that every day."
As for the future, Santoriello hasn’t locked down a college yet and whether that will include tennis. “I’m keeping my options open, I’d obviously be open to playing tennis in the future, but I’m not relying on it for right now,” Santoriello said. Unsure of the school, Santoriello is sure on her studies; Law.
As for tennis, “I’m gonna continue to play throughout my whole life, because it’s one of those sports that travels with you anytime, any age, but right now I don’t really know,” she said. “Before the house order came out, I was going over and playing tennis with my sister because she was home from college.”
Santoriello has obeyed the stay home order, but she will be ready in 2021. “Since we’ve had the stay at home order I haven’t been hitting as much, but I’ve been staying active by doing walks, doing at-home workouts,” she said. “When this order does get lifted, I will definitely be out on the tennis courts again.”