Favorite athlete: Rafael Nadal
Favorite team: Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Our win against CR North in districts to secure a spot in states
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Wearing my uniform inside out and not noticing until the second set!
Music on iPod: A little bit of everything, but right now tons of Coldplay
Future plans: Going to college and possibly medical school
Words to live by: ‘It’s not how you start, but how you finish.’
One goal before turning 30: Travel all over Europe
One thing people don’t know about me: I really want to learn how to play piano.
By Alex Frazier
For Wissahickon senior Anne Marie Devlin, tennis is a family affair.
No need to look for someone to hit a ball with in the Devlin family. The Devlins could field two doubles teams or carry an entire singles lineup.
Her mother Mary Ellen is Wissahickon’s tennis coach. Anne Marie, the oldest of three sisters, plays No. 2 singles; her sister Maureen, a sophomore, plays No. 1; and her youngest sister Katherine, an eighth grader, will be playing at the high school next year.
Her younger brother Neil, 11, has yet to be taken with the sport.
“He’s not a tennis player yet, but you never know,” said Anne Marie.
As a mother and coach, Mary Ellen is in a unique situation.
Mary Ellen, who also played her high school tennis at Wissahickon, took over the program from her former mentor four years ago, which coincided with Anne Marie’s matriculation into high school.
“It’s an interesting dynamic when you’re the mom and the coach,” said Mary Ellen, “but I have to say when you’re coaching a sport like tennis, it’s not a struggle for me. It’s such a skilled sport, they earn their spot.”
Anne Marie said she doesn’t “give it much thought” having her mother as a coach.
“It’s something I’ve always been used to,” she said. “I’ve done camps with her. It’s more of a family event than anything else. There’s nothing negative about. You earn your own spot, so there’s no controversy. It’s all fun.”
And she’s philosophical about her younger sister being the top dog.
“Absolutely we’re competitive, but it’s never been a huge conflict,” said Anne Marie. “She’s always been a good player and always been a little bit in front of me. There’s nobody I would prefer to be behind more than her. She does a great job where she is.”
Katherine, the youngest, often gets the brunt of her older sister’s experience. For now.
“We’ll see how long that lasts,” said Anne Marie.
Although it may be a given that Devlin would be a tennis player, it wasn’t forced on her. Growing up, she played, among other sports, basketball, field hockey and softball, a sport she was pretty serious about for a while.
“She was very much well-rounded in sports as a younger child,” said Mary Ellen, “but by high school she knew that to compete at this level you have to train. The season is only part of the year in tennis.”
Like many athletes, there came a time when she decided to focus on tennis and “let go of everything else.” By the end of ninth grade, tennis was No.1.
“It’s something I’ve always been around,” she said. “I always remember watching my mom play and take lessons. I was playing when I was a toddler, but just a little bit for fun.”
In addition to high school tennis, she also plays in USTA Middle States tournaments throughout the year and at the Upper Dublin Sports Center.
In her four years of playing at Wissahickon, Devlin has made all-league every year. In ninth grade, she was first team doubles, placing second in the American Conference. As a sophomore and junior, she was all-league third singles and finished second in the league at second doubles. This year she was first team playing second singles. She only lost one match in District One.
“She finished in the top three of the Suburban One League, which is good finish for a No. 2 player going against the No 1’s,” said Mary Ellen. “She’s keeping good company.”
Her doubles team also won the American Conference and has advanced to states.
“She’s done particularly well as an individual and particularly as a leader for the team,” said her mother.
In Anne Marie’s four years on the team, the Trojans have swept the American Conference and qualified for states as a team. Twice they were runners-up in District One and another year they won the championship.
“It’s been a very strong team to beat,” said Mary Ellen.
Devlin likes both singles and doubles and is looking forward to college when she gets to play both, unlike in high school tennis.
“I like playing singles a lot, but doubles is also fun to do. It’s a different game strategy. It’s a team effort,” she said. “Tennis is such an individual sport it’s great to be working with somebody else. That’s one of the main reasons I’m looking forward to college.”
Anne Marie is a co-captain this year and her mother had been impressed with her team leadership.
“She’s been a leader in terms of the tennis,” she said. “She’s more of the quiet, lead-by-example kind. She’s really stepped up.”
She cites Anne Marie’s strengths as hard work and discipline.
“In an individual sport that has someone that is very team oriented makes it very special,” said her mother. “She’s a very disciplined girl in terms of a student athlete. She exemplifies what a student athlete is all about and does it in a rather modest way.”
Anne Marie excels in the classroom as she does on the court. She carries a 3.75 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. She is taking advanced placement economics, statistics, English literature and calculus.
“I’m trying to get a tougher schedule to get some of these courses over with before school starts next year if I want to be playing on the (tennis) team,” she said.
She admits she gravitates toward the math/science courses.
A member of the National Honor Society, she is also a Merit Scholar.
Around school, she participates in the Health Careers Club; Interact, a service club; and Fans, a club that promotes school spirit.
During the summer she helps Gwynedd Mercy College tennis coach Jim Holt in his Touch of Tennis Program, which introduces special needs kids to tennis.
“That’s always been a lot of fun and a great way to spread tennis as well,” she said.
She plans to continue playing tennis next year in college. She is looking at smaller schools like Villanova, St. Joseph’s and Washington College.
“I’m still talking to a few different coaches,” she said. “I am definitely looking for scholarship money, whether it be for athletics or hopefully some academic too, especially if it’s going to be a Division Three school.”
A career in the medical profession seems likely.
“I’d love to do something in sports medicine,” she said. “There are a lot of options.”
Physical therapy and orthopedics are possibilities.
Anne Marie hopes to finish out her high school tennis season on a high note. Both individually and as a team Anne Marie will be competing at the state level.
Tuesday, the Trojans defeated Cardinal O’Hara 5-0 to advance to the state team quarterfinals for the second time in the past four years. The Trojans will play Manheim Township Friday at the Hershey Racquet Club.
“We have a good shot at winning,” said Anne Marie. “We’re all looking forward to Friday.”
On Nov. 4, Anne Marie will be making her first state appearance on a doubles team. She and partner Danielle Mustin will take on the District Seven doubles champions.
On Wednesday, Devlin and Mustin finished third in District One by defeating Central Bucks South’s Margot Tovia and Abbygail Gamarnik, 6-2, 6-1.
“Things are piling up these next two weeks,” she said. “It’s great. It’s a good ending, hopefully.”