Women’s Tennis Opens Season at Northeast Championships

The team’s first action of the fall saw some mixed results but was headlined by the pairing of senior Valeria Deminova and sophomorae Eleni Fasoula advancing into the round of 16.

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Li (above) will be one of the team’s core leaders during this transitional season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Alexander Wolz, Sports Editor

The fall season is officially underway for Fordham Women’s Tennis with this past weekend’s Intercollegiate Tennis Association Northeast Regional Championship at Army West Point. The four-day event featured single elimination competition on the singles and doubles front, headlined by the pairing of senior Valeria Deminova and sophomore Eleni Fasoula advancing into day three’s round of 16.

The competition began back Thursday with Fordham fielding five different athletes into the singles competition. The first win there came from junior Avery Aude over Siena College’s Emma Boggiali, 6–4, 6–3, a result that resonated with new coach Michael Sowter. Aude, who went 11–9 as a freshman and once earned Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors, returns to the team after missing out on the 2020-21 season.

Another bright sign for Sowter came from one of Fordham’s newcomers, Carlota Casasampere Escoda. Escoda is one of the team’s multiple players from California, a hotspot for recruiting because of the weather advantages over the Northeast. The California State University, Long Beach transfer made her debut winning a first set tiebreaker en route to a 7–6 (4), 6–4 finish. The Spanish player has not competed since the 2018–19 season, where she posted a positive 9–6 record in singles matches. She will look to bring the same productivity to the Bronx as the season progresses, as will the team’s other addition, Lorraine Bergman, who did not appear during the weekend event.

Another returning player was junior Rachelle Yang, seeing her first action since compiling a 2–7 record during her freshman year. She fell to the University of Connecticut’s Aleksandra Karamyshev in straight sets, 6–4, 6–2.

Rounding out the singles results, senior Nicole Li fell to Bryant University’s Leanne Kendall in straight sets, 6–2, 6–3. This match, specifically, reflected Sowter’s feeling that the team came prepared to play against high-quality opponents, but, conversely, suffered a few disappointing results against lesser-quality opponents in singles. 

Deminova moved forward with a bye, where she got an early look at a conference opponent on day two. The University of Massachusetts’ Danielle Hack rolled past her 6–2, 6–1. Escoda fell in similar fashion, 6–2, 6–0, and Aude put up a fight against Yale University’s Mirabelle Bretkelly in the closest contest of the bunch, a 6–3, 6–7 (6), [10-5] defeat.

Fordham saw much greater success in doubles, as the aforementioned Deminova and Fasoula rolled past day one with an 8–6 victory. So too did the pairing of Li and Aude, winning 8–4 themselves. The road stopped on day two for the latter, but Deminova and Fasoula moved on to day three, where Fordham’s time at West Point ended at the hands of UConn’s Leonie Hoppe and Julieanne Bou, one step short of next weekend’s Super Regionals.

Sowter was pleased with what he saw from the team in this event, their first competition of the fall season. However, he described an overall analysis of the team as “consistently inconsistent” at this time, which he hopes will improve as practice sessions continue in the coming weeks. As he previously stated, much of this fall simply comes down to remembering what it feels like to play fall tennis again, with this being their first real chance to do that.

It is a quick turnaround after this year’s spring campaign that culminated in a second-round exit at the Atlantic 10 Championship. Compared to then, the team is significantly healthier now —  with the exception of senior Genevieve Quenville’s absence. In her anticipated return  to practice sessions with the team, there is optimism in what they can achieve, even in this small sample size.

The Rams’ next competition on the court comes this weekend with their first home match against Wagner College. That bout on Saturday at 11 a.m. will be followed by Sunday’s matinee against St. Francis College Brooklyn.