Maria Santilli concludes strong freshman tennis season at Cincinnati
Cincinnati women’s tennis coach Eric Toth knew he had a gem in Norwin graduate Maria Santilli, but she exceeded his expectations.
“Maria had an outstanding freshman season,” Toth said. “Winning 14 singles matches in the dual-match season was probably a little better than I thought she would do for a first-year player and playing the challenging schedule that we do.”
Santilli, a two-time WPIAL Class AAA singles champion and one-time PIAA champion, went 22-6 overall in singles and 6-6 in doubles.
She played fourth singles in the American Athletic Conference championship tournament in April, where the Bearcats (12-11 overall, 1-3 in conference) lost in the quarterfinals.
“I was very happy with how I performed,” Santilli said. “Adjusting to college can be a bit difficult, but, luckily, I have great coaches and teammates (who) helped me.”
Santilli, who is studying accounting, will be busy in the offseason.
“I plan on continuing to work with my coaches in (Western Pennsylvania), as well as make a few trips back to Cincinnati to train with my college coaches,” she said. “I’m also planning on playing some (Intercollegiate Tennis Association) tournaments, so I can continue to improve in match situations.
“I feel that I have improved on many aspects of my game since going to college. However, one area that my coaches and I still feel that I could continue to improve on is my agility and footwork.”
Toth said Santilli is a model player.
“She does things the right way day in and out,” he said. “She is extremely coachable and wants to do well for (her) teammates and coaches.
“Maria is all you want in a player as a coach. With how determined Maria is, I would expect her to continue to improve and contribute to our team in a big way.”
Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.