There are countless seniors and student-athletes not getting the well-deserved shine they would otherwise be enjoying over the past weeks and months.
Among them are the always-excellent Severna Park High School tennis players, who every year dominate at the county level and contend at the region and state level. The Falcons were primed for another successful spring when, like the rest of the world, their plans were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Foremost on the talented 2019 roster is Miriam Moghtader, the Falcons’ standout girls singles and doubles player, former state and county champion, team captain and soon-to-be summa cum laude graduate.
Moghtader, who was a girls doubles state champion last year with her sister, Abby Moghtader, and a mixed doubles county champion with Matthew Kilchenstein in 2018, holds an .849 win percentage across all matches in her career. Off the court, Moghtader has earned multiple academic distinctions, including Top Scholar Athlete; membership in the National Honor Society, Spanish honor society, math honor society and science honor society; and a 4.46 GPA, good for summa cum laude honors at graduation. She was involved in Key Club and STAR (Students Taking Action Responsibly) and will attend the University of Virginia, where she intends to study biology and/or mathematics.
Falcons assistant coach Emily Bear praised Moghtader’s approach to the game as exemplary of the values of the tennis program at Severna Park.
“Miriam has been a leader on and off the courts since she was a freshman,” Bear said. “She led the team with wins and would then head over to cheer on anyone still playing. Miriam arranged hitting sessions outside of school and always brings laughter and cheerfulness to every practice. One of her best attributes is her humility. She would graciously win and get to know opponents.”
Moghtader said the impact of Severna Park tennis on her high school experience has been immense.
“Playing on the tennis team at Severn Park has meant so much to me,” Moghtader said. “The biggest challenge that came with tennis for me personally was playing under pressure. Starting my first season as a freshman on the SPHS team was nerve-racking because I had never had such a big group of people watching me compete before. I struggled at first, but after playing many matches and my coaches’ guidance, competing in front of others felt natural. This has made me a much more confident person both on and off the tennis court.”
She said her place in the team fostered an inclusive style of leadership.
“My goal as an upperclassman on the team these past two years has been trying to include everyone and make all players feel welcome and involved. It can be scary joining a team for the first time, especially one that already has close bonds. That is why the juniors and seniors including myself aimed to get to know everyone so that we all feel like we have a place on the team.”
Moghtader’s senior teammates — Liza Yannone, Olivia Altman, Luke Mudd, Andrew Bubnis and Jake Shirey — have produced similarly prolific high school careers and are poised for continued success as they enter their next chapters after graduation.
Mudd, a team captain, went 9-1 last season and has been a Top Scholar Athlete every year with a 4.1 high school GPA. Mudd will attend Syracuse University to study industrial design.
Yannone went 9-0 in girls doubles in the regular season last year and was runner-up with teammate Sydney Mudd in girls doubles at the county championships. She has a .750 win percentage for her career and a 4.2 GPA, is a Minds In Motion Scholar Athlete and Sportsmanship Award winner and will attend Elon University.
Bubnis went 9-1 across boys doubles and boys singles in 2019, including 7-0 in boys doubles in the regular season, and he holds a .740 career win percentage. Bubnis received the Outstanding Technology and Engineering Student Award from the school’s engineering department and will graduate summa cum laude with a 4.66 GPA. Bubnis will attend the University of Cincinnati to study aerospace engineering.
Shirey played singles, boys doubles and mixed doubles in 2019 and went 7-2, and he was a Top Scholar Athlete all four years of his high school career. He will graduate with a 4.50 GPA and attend the University of Florida to study computer science.
Altman, a team captain, holds an impressive .843 win percentage in three varsity seasons, including regular seasons of 11-1 and 10-0 in county play in 2018 and 2019, respectively. She was a Top Scholar Athlete who also played mixed doubles, and she was also an All-County defender for the Falcons’ 4A state-finalist girls soccer team. She graduates with a GPA of 4.5 and will attend the University of Tennessee on a pre-law track.
Despite missing out on their final season together, Moghtader said the relationships with her fellow seniors and teammates over the years are the lasting impressions the Falcons will cherish into the future.
“The most special aspect would have to be the group of friends from the team,” she said. “My teammates these past four years have made me love the sport even more and helped me to find where I belong at the school. I am very lucky to have been introduced to all these amazing (and hilarious) people and be able to create strong friendships with them.”