Maria Sotirchos couldn't help but bask in the moment as Paul VI Catholic captured a school-record third consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference girls' team tennis championship last fall. Since arriving at the Fairfax private school three years ago, Sotirchos has helped lead the Panthers' tennis program from near obscurity to powerhouse status.
Last season, Sotirchos finished the season 14-0 and earned her second consecutive title at No. 1 singles and her second doubles title in three years. The senior boasts a 46-4 record in the past three seasons and carries an even more impressive mark in the WCAC.
Sotirchos is 40-2 in the conference for her career, 31-0 over the past two seasons.
While Sotirchos is proud of her singles accomplishments, she's effusive when it comes to the accomplishments of her teammates. Sotirchos arrived at Paul VI with two other players -- No. 2 singles player Marie Zapolski and No. 3 Michelle Dimitroff -- who also have been catalysts during the emergence of the tennis program.
"I'm happy with what we have accomplished in turning it into a good program," Sotirchos said.
"Since we've won the championship, more interest has developed in the sport from the school. I'm glad I've been a part of putting this school on the map."
But her off-court demeanor doesn't hint at her on-court success.
"She is probably the most laid-back and humble person as far as her athletic ability is concerned," Panthers Coach Craig Tutt said.
"Honestly, you wouldn't know walking down the hallway that she is as good as she is at this game. That says a lot about her character. She isn't out there flaunting. She comes out to perform for the match."
With a solid all-court game, Sotirchos has made plenty of statements on the court. Always technically sound, she has worked tirelessly to develop her power game, strengthening her forehand, serve and net game.
The improvement in Sotirchos's play lifted her to No. 17 in the Mid-Atlantic Tennis Association's 18-and-under rankings. This summer, she posted victories over several higher-ranked players, including defending Virginia AAA singles champion and All-Met Jessica Keener (ranked 11th by MATA), Jamie Caplan of Flint Hill (seventh) and Kristen Scott of Holy Cross (15th).
Sotirchos is ranked 126th in the national standings for the 18-and-under classification and has drawn interest from college recruiters at Iowa, Michigan State and Richmond.
"Every year, I've set out to improve my game," Sotirchos said. "I know if I can accomplish that it will help the team as well as myself. I just enjoy getting out there and playing."