Prep Notebook: Spalding tennis team came up aces

Everything just fell into place this year for the Archbishop Spalding girls tennis team.

Two main factors contributed to the team’s championship season. The first was the team moving down to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference. The second was a talented freshman who enrolled at the school.

Head coach Jon Jacobson knew he had a serious new tennis player when he found out she previously trained with Nick Saviano in Florida. That player, freshman Sofia Zafiropulos, played No. 1 singles all year and didn’t lose a match. She went 10-0 in the regular season and won her three IAAM B Conference matches, including a 6-0, 6-0 decision in the final. She lost just five games in B Conference play during the regular season.

“We get very few people like Sophia,” Jacobson said. “I knew she was good, especially when I found out she was training with Nick Saviano. When I found out she enrolled, I knew we were going to be pretty good.”

Zafiropulos wasn’t the only player who was dominant for the Cavaliers. The team went unbeaten in B Conference play, winning 34 of the 35 individual matches. Paige Gunning at No. 2 singles and the doubles teams of Grace Bledsoe/Julia Jennings and Kyra Farley/Allison Braatz also went undefeated during the regular season. The No. 1 doubles team of Audrey Zarzuela/Kate Woyneroski lost just one match in conference play during the regular season for the Cavaliers, who dropped just six sets in B Conference play.

Archbishop Spalding didn’t request to move down from the A Conference to the B this year. Though the team went just 1-8 last year, four of the losses came by a 3-2 score. Jacobson recalled several of the team’s individual matches last year went three sets.

“We don’t recruit. We have a nice group of kids and the athletic department is very supportive,” Jacobson said. “We’re right where we belong. We’ll get enough players every year to be competitive in the B Conference.”

While Jacobson was thrilled with how the team performed on the court this year, he calls the highlight of the season the Oldfields match. At the end of that match, which the Cavaliers lost just one game in the five matches, the team was presented with a character coin for the outstanding sportsmanship they showed during the match.

The character coin program was implemented by the IAAM and is meant to honor athletes who demonstrate good character, good spirit, integrity and honesty during a game or match.

CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONS: When the St. Mary’s girls cross country team won last week’s IAAM B Conference championship, it wrapped up a dominating season for the Saints. St. Mary’s went 8-0 in the conference, with an average margin of victory of 28 points. In winning their first conference title since 2009, the Saints used their depth once again at the conference meet at McDaniel College. St. Mary’s had the No. 6 through 8 finishers in Lyndsey Whynock, Grayson McKenzie and Abby Gendell. Amanda Spence was 11th, Annabell Ackerson was 14th and Maeve Riley was 15th, giving the Saints six of the top 15 finishers. Lauren Warfield added a 17th-place finish for the Saints.

“One of our strengths this year was our depth,” said head coach Tom Smith, who’s assisted by Mary Morgan. “Staying in a pack seemed to be an advantage. We really had the girls ready, and they peaked at the right time.”

This could be the start of a multiyear run for the Saints, who will lose just one senior in Ackerman. She was the team’s most valuable player last year before battling through an injury this year.

Of the 16 runners on the varsity team, six were freshmen this year, led by Whynock, who won seven races during the regular season.

At last week’s championship race, the Saints finished with 46 points, 20 points ahead of second-place Glenelg Country.

“We were thinking it was going to be a really close race,” Smith said. “The fact that we won the championship by a larger margin that I anticipated says a lot about their heart.”

  • Qualifiers form the 16 region meets will head to Hereford High School on Saturday for the public-school state cross country meet. South River’s Sam Keeny and Annapolis’ Anna Coffin were the top finishers from the county in last week’s Class 4A East Region meet at Arundel. Keeny finished in 16 minutes, 25 seconds and finished 12 seconds ahead of Severna Park’s Samuel Martin. Rounding out the top 10 were Jacob Molina of Arundel (16:42), Severna Park’s Jake Gelfand (16:46); Tanner Piotrowski of Arundel (16:50), Nick Benedict of Severna Park (16:56), North Point’s Josh Doughty (16:57), Severna Park’s Nick Engleman (16:59) and Matthew Bateman (17:07) and Broadneck’s Spencer Tate (17:10). Severna Park was the team champion, followed by Arundel and South River.
  • Leonardtown’s Nelle Ray won the girls competition and finished in 19:11, six seconds ahead of Coffin. Rounding out the girls top 10 were South River’s Bronwyn Patterson (19:46), Broadneck’s Mollie Fenn (10:01), Severna Park’s Kelsie O’Neill (20:09), Broadneck’s Anna Janke (20:20), Severna Park’s Kamryn Eveleth (20:27), Arundel’s Lindsay Wingeart (20:27), Allysa Combs of Severna Park (20:31) and Parker O’Brien of Leonardtown (20:39). Severna Park won the team competition, followed by Broadneck and South River.

Chesapeake came in fifth in the boys Class 3A East Region meet, led by Dylan Wolfe, who finished 13th in 17:34. Northeast was ninth. Chesapeake was sixth on the girls side, with Bailey Healy leading the Cougars with an 11th-place finish in 21:30.

Southern finished 10th in the boys Class 2A South Region meet.

GOING FOR REPEATS: The St. Mary’s and Annapolis Area Christian School football teams will try to repeat as their respective conference champions this weekend. St. Mary’s, which got off to an 0-3 start before beginning MIAA B Conference play, won six of its last seven games and finished 5-1 in conference play. The Saints will face Pallotti, the only team they fell to in the conference this year. Pallotti, which won the teams’ regular-season meeting, 14-0, also finished 5-1 in conference play.

The Eagles will also look to avenge a loss during the regular season when they face Concordia Prep. The teams actually met twice this year, with Concordia Prep winning both, 24-6 and 24-22. AACS finished 3-2 in conference play, while Concordia Prep was 6-0.

As of press time, the exact date, time and location of the games was not available.

FREE SOCCER CLINIC: St. Mary’s High School boys soccer invites current seventh and eighth grade students to a free soccer clinic on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 2 to 4p.m. The clinic will take place at Pascal Field on Bestgate Road.

To register, go to stmarysannapolis.myschoolapp.com/podium/default.

For any questions about the clinic, contact St. Mary’s head coach Corey Childs at cchilds@stmarysannapolis.org.

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