The 2012 Morton girls tennis team produced several notable achievements.
The Potters, who long have been one of the area's best programs, reached new heights with a variety of players chipping in this fall.
"They never went into a match thinking they couldn't win," MHS head coach Pete Martin said.
Morton won its second consecutive Mid-Illini Conference title and, one week later, added the Bloomington Sectional championship.
That was the first time the Potters earned both titles in the same season.
A record five Morton athletes — seniors Mariah Thompson and Gaya Nersesyan, juniors Kate Byrne and Hannah Bailey and sophomore Julie Martin — advanced to the Illinois High School Association state final.
"Winning conference and sectionals was awesome, especially since it was my senor year," Thompson said. "There's pretty much no better way to end the season."
Between the conference and regional crowns, the Potters downed Normal University, 4-3, to complete a 13-0 dual season, the girls' first year without a loss.
"For my senior year, what could be better than having a perfect season," Nersesyan said.
She added the team was aware of what it had a chance to accomplish entering October, but did not apply a lot of pressure.
Martin said the girls had a lot of camaraderie. They worked hard, but had fun, in practice. When it came time for matches, the players were all business.
"We were all really close. We got along great," said Thompson.
Whenever someone lost that was not expected to, a teammate was there to turn around that defeat with a win of her own.
Junior Madie Kraft helped preserve a Morton tie with Dunlap at the Oct. 6 Mid-Illini tournament, which clinched the conference championship.
She obtained the No. 2 singles title after the Potters' powerful No. 1 doubles team was upset in the semifinals.
Rachel Scherer, a junior, won the deciding singles match Sept. 19 against Moline in a 3-2 Potter victory.
Senior Amy Nguyen and juniors Katie Shaw and Emma Zern also competed this season for Morton.
"I'm going to miss it," said Nersesyan. "It was the best senior year I could really ask for."
Thompson pointed out Morton was a really deep team.
Martin thought an M-I championship was tough, but attainable.
Missing injured singles and doubles stalwart Julie Martin Aug. 21, Morton clubbed league favorite Dunlap, 7-2, in the season opener.
The Eagles were filled with players with two years of varsity experience, while the Potters had three players making their debuts at that level.
"After that first match, I thought, 'OK, maybe we have a little something special,'" said coach Martin. "We played lights out against a pretty good team."
Page 2 of 2 - Morton also impressed with a third-place finish Sept. 14-15 in the Bloomington Invitational.
It trailed only state powers Belleville East and Belleville West and outscored all the Twin Cities entrants.
"We really played well," said Martin of the tournament that was added this year in place of the one-day event in Galesburg.
Of the Potters' sectional championship by one point over second-place U-High, Martin said, "We had to win a couple big matches."
While he concedes two great players in Thompson and Nersesyan will depart, Martin said having five returnees, plus a good group of current underclassmen coached by Molly Thompson and varsity holdovers from which to choose, will keep Morton in a good position.
"We should be pretty good next year, too," Martin said.