Central’s Girls Tennis: A Decade of Dominance

 Henry Chiles (282)

The Girls’ Varsity Tennis team has cemented itself as a pillar of athletic success at Central High School. The team has exemplified dominance over the better part of the past decade, clinching 8 straight Public League Championships prior to this year. Their success continued into the 2022 season, as they swept Masterman 5-0 for another Public League Championship win. To top that, the team went on to defeat Cardinal O’Hara 4-1 for their 2nd straight District Championship title. This constant level of accomplishment is attributed to an abundance of talent and a family-like atmosphere that the players are able to maintain.

The Girls’ Tennis team has been able to create an environment where players feed off each other’s passion and dedication. Mr. Graham, who has coached the team for 17 years, credits the success of his team to the players’ level of commitment, saying “this isn’t a team where I need to be constantly yelling or telling them what to do. They’re very self-motivated.” 

Although motivation is crucial at an individual level, tennis players can often focus too much on themselves due to the singles and doubles style of the sport. The Central team is able to avoid the players falling into complete isolation by supporting each other, especially in high-stakes and intense games. Mr. Graham has noticed the players rally together in important situations, stating, “on a daily basis it might be tough to see how tight-knit this group is, but I think it comes through in key moments through the year. Once the playoffs start, everyone’s all in.” The players certainly recognize the connection between succeeding as a team and actively encouraging their teammates. Anael Brodski (282), a co-captain of the team, noticed that “everyone is having their own match, but we’re still bringing the energy as a complete team as if we’re playing together because we do want to win. If someone is playing a match and they finish it and someone else is still playing, we’ll all go and cheer them on.”

While a supportive environment greatly benefits a team’s level of play, it doesn’t hurt that the team is stacked with incredibly talented players. For example, Mia Jeftić (282) won the Philadelphia Public League Singles Championship in all 4 of her years at Central. Jeftić served as a co-captain this year with Brodski and Pria Vahey (282). The role of the co-captains, according to Brodski, is to “communicate with the team. When we were at practices we would lead the warm-ups and we would introduce the members [of the team] each match. It was fun because it was a bunch of friends leading the team, but also the team is a family.” Other senior players include doubles player Orysya Khmil (282) and dedicated reserves Michelle Shvartsman (282) and Jennifer Tran (282). The seniors played a key role in the team’s success, and the team is sad to see them go, but Mr. Graham is optimistic about the future. “We do have four of our seven starters returning … I think the future looks strong. There’s gonna need to be some players that step up since we have three openings in the starting lineup. I look forward to working with them.” With talented players such as Halle Levinson (283), Ari Mandell (283), Ella Pagarsky (284), and Sasha Clyman (285) all returning to the squad, it is unsurprising that Mr. Graham feels confident going forward.

Next year, Central’s Varsity Girls’ Tennis team will be seeking their 10th consecutive Public League Championship win! With a hard-working and supportive atmosphere already set up, as well as several high-level players, it is hard to see their streak ending any time soon.

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