Girls Tennis Player of the Year: MFS junior Renna Mohsen-Breen

After battling injuries and honoring tennis commitments outside of high school as a sophomore, Mohsen-Breen rose to the top of the South Jersey tennis world by taking the coach’s tournament title in Vineland and then helped fuel her team to the Foxes first state championship in school history.

Renna Mohsen-Breen was easily one of South Jersey’s most decorated athletes this fall: she won the South Jersey Tennis Coaches Association’s tournament and guided her team to its first-ever state championship, as well as its second straight Friends League title. (RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)

Leadership can take all kinds of forms in athletics.

You can be a vocal, rah-rah leader, calling the team together and motivating with your mouth. You can lead by example, bringing a quiet and controlled approach while letting your work ethic and success do the so-called talking.

Or you can do both of those things.

Perhaps that’s what makes Renna Mohsen-Breen special. Along with her talent, the junior at Moorestown Friends School is exactly the kind of leader a coach could only hope to dream up, one who does all of the right things all the time.

Like during the Tournament of Champions in October, when, as she often does to keep things light, Mohsen-Breen introduced her teammates to the other team with nicknames before the match.

Only instead of coming up with completely random nicknames as she usually does — which MFS coach Mike Bodary only allows when he knows the other coach or team well, as to not offend them in any way — she tried something different. She added the middle name “Julia” to each of her teammates, a new trick that had them all cracking up before the biggest match of the year.

“She can be a character,” Bodary said. “She wanted to keep everyone loose and to play loose, and they did.”

Renna Mohsen-Breen chats with Moorestown Friends coach Mike Bodary and teammate Amanda Augustino during a practice. (RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)

Mohsen-Breen was the №1 singles player on a team that took its second straight Friends League title and the school’s first-ever state championship this fall. And she rose to the top of the South Jersey mountain when she won the South Jersey Tennis Coaches Association tournament in Vineland, too.

For her accomplishments, Mohsen-Breen is the Sun Newspapers 2018 Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

“It means a lot,” Mohsen-Breen said of being considered the best in South Jersey. “I know for the last three years I’ve wanted it. I didn’t get to play in it last year because I was in a tournament outside of school. So it feels good to finally win it as a junior. It’s exciting, to win like that and playing against one of my best friends (Cherry Hill East’s Pallavi Goculdas) in the final.”

Mohsen-Breen, who also sat out the state individual tournament as a sophomore due to her tennis commitments outside of high school play, fell in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association) this year. But she will be considered one of the favorites as a senior for one of the few pieces of hardware she didn’t pick up as a junior.

“I know all four semifinalists (this year) were seniors,” she said.

In an example of her team-first mentality — something that’s not always there with elite players in a sport when individuals vie for titles, too — there’s something Mohsen-Breen seems to want even more than finishing as the best overall player in New Jersey next fall.

Moorestown Friends junior Renna Mohsen-Breen returns a backhand during a practice earlier this season. (RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)

“I really, really, really want to win Tournament of Champions,” Mohsen-Breen said, referring to the end-of-the-season tournament when all of the team state champions square off. “It would just be the cherry on top. I mean if we don’t it’s fine, but I really want to and I know all the girls want to, too. I know after this season we all (talked about) ending Millburn’s reign. So, hopefully.”

Millburn High School has won six consecutive T of C titles and nine of the last 13 since 2006.

But just as the calculus could work out in Mohsen-Breen’s favor in the individual tournament, with seniors graduating, the Foxes are set up for another state tourney run and possible T of C title (they lost to Bridgewater-Raritan in the semifinals this year) since they didn’t have a single senior on this year’s roster. Everyone is coming back in 2019.

For now, though, Mohsen-Breen can relish a memorable junior season when she and her teammates made school history.

“The state title was super exciting,” she said. “And the way we won it, with a really long third singles match (fellow junior Elena Styliades preserved in a 3 1/2 hour match) to decide it. … We stormed the court, we were so happy.”

(RYAN LAWRENCE, The Sun)