“Shh!” Sophomore Michael Sofia raises his index finger to his lips and hushes the crowd as he attempts to serve the ball. Focus. His white Cabrini College tennis polo, Rebok shorts, and Wilson shoes, glow in the spring sunlight that reflects the concentration on his mind at that pivotal moment; his serve.
In a close match that came down to the wire, Sofia and doubles partner, freshman Bill Mariano, lost 9:7. Cabrini beat Arcadia, reigning champions of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference, in a match held at home on Monday, March 24, 4:3. Sofia was glad for the team but admits that a recent injury to his back has impaired his playing for the season.
During a challenge match against fellow teammate, Mariano, Sofia experienced a sharp pain in his lower back. Sofia immediately stopped playing. The following day he found that he had pulled a muscle and was unable to keep the competitive edge that the rest of his teammates possessed.
During a practice held on the following day, Sofia lost another challenge match to John Lobb, a sophomore, and it became clear that Lobb was a stronger player. Sofia has lost his spot as one of this year’s top team starters.
Sofia played tennis all through high school for South Philadelphia’s Gerard Academic Music Program, and went through five years without missing a starting match. Sofia played as number one in high school and three and four in his freshman year of college. “It was hard to go from a high position to knowing that I wasn’t part of the top six starters,” Sofia said.
This year’s top starters are senior Scott Giblin, senior Taylor Duffy, freshman Jack Keller, senior Rich Aldrete, freshman Bill Mariano, and sophomore John Lobb. Sofia said, “For the benefit of the team it’s a much wiser decision to have John starting over me.”
The support and encouragement of the team and Coach Reggie Day convinced Sofia that he still has a major purpose on the team. Tennis manager senior Jay Rotella said that the injury has affected Sofia’s performance. “As of now the injury isn’t keeping me sidelined,” Sofia said.
One of Sofia’s major influences on the tennis team is the complete dedication and focus shown by Giblin. Sofia said, “Scottie always shows perfect sportsmanship and is the greatest player I have had the pleasure of playing against.”
Giblin was named Most Valuable Player for 2001 and 2002. His success did not stop in Monday’s match against Arcadia when he won his match against Arcadia’s number one, Mike Brewer, who, after only six minutes of competition, was forced to retire due to injury. Giblin is also suffering from a minor injury but continues to play and continue his four year undefeated streak. “Scott is the best player that the PAC has ever seen,” said Rotella.
Cabrini’s tennis team could be the first PAC win for the college this year. After losing a match to Eastern University last Wednesday, March 19, the team needs to win every match ahead of them. “It’s still a possibility,” Rotella said. The team has not lost any hope.
Sofia continues to smile and focus, as he looks ahead to the future of the team this year and the rest of his tennis career at Cabrini.
So, what is Sofia hoping for by his May 2005 graduation? “I would like to see the team earn a PAC title.”
Men’s tennis coach, Reggie Day said of the team, “They’re a great bunch of guys. I’m real proud of them. They’ll do great this year.”