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Chartiers Valley grad Margo Mason gives boost to Westminster tennis

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Chartiers Valley graduate Margo Mason was away from competitive tennis since high school, but she is playing No. 1 singles for Westminster.

On the Westminster athletic website, the name “Margo Mason” doesn’t appear in the tennis team’s 2018 preview story. But when Titans opened their season Aug. 31, the name “Margo Mason” was penciled in at the top of the lineup.

Mason, a Chartiers Valley grad, spent two years at Penn State, where she had a short-lived stint playing club tennis — the late-night practices soured her on the experience — and dabbled in water polo. Playing water polo, she said, rekindled her desire to play team tennis. She knew Titans coach Dave Hayden from working summer clinics with him, and she had relatives who went to Westminster so the school was a natural fit.

And she was a natural fit with the team.

“The team is amazing,” Mason, a junior, said. “Maybe the first five minutes I felt like I was new. But then it was just like I had known them for years. Everyone gets along, and it’s great.”

Said junior Alex Marzouca, the Titans’ No. 2 singles player: “From the first day, she was making jokes, and it was amazing how quickly she adapted. She kind of made the team a team. A lot of what she did bonded everyone.”

Mason was impressive in her debut, routing Franciscan’s Madelyn Conrad, 6-2, 6-0. It was her first competitive match since fall 2015.

Still, Mason said, the transition wasn’t as easy as it might have looked. Though she had remained active, she wasn’t in tennis shape, so over the summer, she ran and played tennis two or three times a week.

If she had any rust, it wasn’t apparent.

“She probably is one of the most athletic young women that I know,” said Hayden, adding he recruited Mason out of Chartiers Valley. “She has a very strong competitive streak. She doesn’t like to lose. She just plays an attacking type of game.”

Hayden said he doesn’t want Mason to lose her aggressive style, but he is working to have her be more selective with it. He said he wants her be patient, make her opponent hit several returns and wait for just the right shot to attack.

She also is learning how to play doubles, which remains a work in progress. Mason was a singles player from the day she stepped on the court at Chartiers Valley, so doubles strategy is uncharted territory.

She teamed with Marzouca at No. 1 doubles against Franciscan, and they were defeated 8-3. Learning to play doubles goes hand-in-hand with what Mason said is her new approach to tennis.

“In high school, I had kind of an immature look at tennis,” she said. “I was focused on myself and winning my own matches. Now I look at tennis as more of a team sport.

“I’m really focused on helping the team win, so we can win PACs. That’s our No. 1 goal for this season.”

The Titans finished runner-up to Grove City in the conference last fall. With five returning players and a deeper roster, they are hoping to take the title from the Wolverines.

Having Mason at the top of the lineup, Marzouca said, will be an important piece of the puzzle.

“I think Margo is very good as a No. 1 because I think she can play a lot of different games depending on who is she’s playing,” Marzouca said. “She’s very athletic, and she can run down any ball. She’s very aggressive, and she’s a really smart player.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at [email protected] or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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