Women’s Tennis Looks for Stability Starting This Fall


Genevieve Quenville (above), will be one of the players expected to lead the Rams after the departure of captain Arina Taluyenko. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Last year was both familiar and uncertain for Fordham Women’s Tennis. On one hand, the team was accustomed to its usual spring schedule, albeit shortened and without the fall warmup slate, and fielded a roster nearly identical to the year before. Everything else could not have been more different.

For one, the program’s head coach of over a decade, Bette-Ann Speliotis Liguori, stepped away from the team for personal reasons. All of the program’s recent success—multiple appearances at the Atlantic 10 Semifinals, including over 20 wins in the 2016-17 season, and numerous individual accolades—happened under her leadership. Instead, the reins were handed to assistant coach Peter Banas, who had joined the program in 2018.

Despite that transition, Banas and the Rams saw a clear opportunity to improve on their 4-7 campaign from the year before, one that saw the entirety of conference play canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2021 season did not do much to remedy that, as Fordham was without an official conference record in the regular season once again, but it did provide both a competitive opportunity for this team and one final ride for the seniors on it as well.

Fordham finished the year with a 6-5 record, battling injuries and COVID-19 infections on an already minimized roster, culminating in a second-round exit at the Atlantic 10 Championship. When at full strength, Fordham was a difficult team to beat, spearheaded by seniors Arina Taluyenko and Maia Balce, along with juniors Nicole Li, Genevieve Quenville and Valeriya Deminova.

Victories against Seton Hall University and Quinnipiac University as well as a 6-1 rout of Saint Joseph’s University highlighted the spring campaign, with the Rams proceeding to defeat those same Hawks 4-1 in the opening round of the A-10 Championship. They ultimately fell to George Washington University the following match, but that did little to diminish an otherwise perseverant season. 

Taluyenko, a two-time member of the All-Atlantic 10 team and three-time team MVP who amassed 91 combined wins across her career, will now become someone the Rams look to replace. Li, selected to the conference second team, will be one of those tasked with doing so, along with second and third singles Quenville and Deminova.

Joining the juniors expected to fill those shoes will be the team’s lone freshman from last season, Eleni Fasoula. Coming to the Bronx from Greece, Fasoula made an immediate impact last season and will look for an even bigger role this season.

However, the Rams’ quest for new leadership is true of both its players and its coaches. Speliotis Liguori has now officially left the program, as the announcement of a new head coach looms. It will not be easy to make that adjustment with a fall season right around the corner, but at the very least, Fordham is grateful to have that time after two years without it.

And regardless of who that coach ends up being, Fordham recognizes an opportunity to gain traction with a full season and build upon a successful conference run last year. There are significant people to replace, but Fordham certainly has the talent and will to do it. They proved that last year, despite all of its challenges, and will strive for even more this season.