The St. Anthony’s girls tennis team won’t have an opportunity to defend its first state title in program history this fall, but will attempt to have a season.

That’s music to Sophia Maiorino’s ears.

"When the pandemic ended our school year and dragged into the summer, I was fearful that my senior teammates and I would not get to play our final year," Maiorino said. "Being that I won’t be playing in college, this will be my last time playing tennis in school. We are so grateful that the Catholic High School Athletic Association is giving us one more shot at it."

The Friars have been practicing every other day during the week since late September and plan on opening their season at 4 p.m. on Thursday against St. John the Baptist at Terry Farrell Park.

The league is comprised of St. Anthony’s, St. Francis Prep, Sacred Heart, Kellenberg and St. John the Baptist. Kellenberg won the ‘A’ division league title last year and has moved up to ‘AA’.

Players are required to have temperature checks every day before matches and practice. They must wear masks when they are not able to maintain six feet of social distance but aren’t forced to wear one when competing on the court, according to coach Carole Quinn.

Although the state championships have been canceled and the league championship remains up in the air, the Friars are ready to roll.

Sophia’s twin sister Julia and sophomore Nicolina Giannola will compete for the first and second singles spots. Julia missed most of last year with a back injury, and Giannola transferred from Port Jefferson.

"It took my coaches and I about five minutes to realize there’s something special about Nicolina when she walked onto the court for our tryout," Quinn said. "In my eight years of coaching at St. Anthony’s, I’ve never had a first and second singles duo that were so dominate."

Annabella Licata went undefeated in her junior season and will occupy the third singles spot for the Friars. Peyton Quinn will be St. Anthony’s fourth singles player and is the first freshman in program history to make the ‘AA’ varsity team, Quinn stated. The first doubles team will consist of Sophia and Annabella’s twin sister, Sofia.

"We have developed a natural partnership and can pick each other up when one of us isn’t playing our best," Sophia said. "Our games complement each other, and we rarely need to signal each other as we anticipate each other’s movements. I can’t imagine not having one more season with her."

Hopefully she won’t have to.

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