The New Faces Guiding Men’s Tennis’ Future

The new-look men’s tennis squad will hope to build on what former coach Michael Sowter put in place as the search for a replacement nears its end.


Men Tennis has some strong new additions to the team but will rely on their returning talent such as Jofre Segarra as well. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Men’s Tennis head coach Mike Sowter has been promoted to director of tennis and head coach of the women’s team, leaving a temporary void in the men’s program. The search for a replacement is nearing its end but will likely last through the fall preseason. In the meantime, Coach Sowter will continue to act as head coach while Athletic Director Ed Kull and his associates find a new leader for the program. 

Fordham’s roster has some great additions, in particular Toi Kobayashi, a junior transfer from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. He attended IMG academy, the athletic powerhouse in Bradenton, Florida, where the WNBA bubble was held during the 2020 season. Kobayashi had an extremely impressive career on the junior circuits, reaching #750 in the International Tennis Federation’s junior rankings. Kobayashi played high school tennis with former Fordham Men’s Tennis standout Lutwin de Macar, who graduated from Fordham last May. Both were internationally ranked juniors who were recruited to join IMG from Japan and Belgium, respectively. 

In keeping with the theme of formidable international talent, freshman Pierre Boullenger out of Paris’ All in Academy was set to join the team this year but has elected to sit out of the fall season in preparation for his transfer to UC Santa Barbara. He was recently offered a scholarship by the Gaucho’s, and with Fordham’s lack of scholarships, the decision was made for him. 

The 6’3” Frenchman climbed to #1112 in the ITF’s junior rankings at his highest point, which may not sound particularly impressive, but considering the sheer volume of competitive junior tennis players in the world, he is world-class for his age. 

Another new face on this Fordham squad is power-five junior transfer Giorgio Soemarno out of Oregon. He will be forced to sit out this season after he was deemed academically ineligible. Soemarno transferred into the Gabelli School of Business whose requirements do not align with Oregon’s. After transferring, he was in violation of the NCAA’s “progress toward degree rule,” which mandates every student athlete must have completed at least 40% of their degree by the end of their sophomore year. Because of Gabelli’s different requirements, he had not successfully hit that mark by the end of last year. He will be forced to sit out this season but will not lose a year of eligibility.

Soemarno was also well-schooled on the junior circuit, training at Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai, California, and peaked at #855 on ITF’s junior rankings. Like all internationally ranked players, Soemarno’s life has revolved around his tennis career. Originally born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Soemarno moved to California to attend Weil Prep School, an elite boarding school and tennis academy. 

The team will look to build on what Sowter had brewing over the past few years. The team achieved the sort of success that was unprecedented in recent history prior to his arrival, and his absence will surely be felt. While Sowter might not be hands-on this year, he is still responsible for recruiting this year’s group and snatching up all the international talent seen throughout the roster. 

In fact, eight out of nine currently rostered players were not born in the United States. The only U.S.-born player on the roster this year is sophomore Rhett Bailey from Dallas, Texas. While many of Fordham’s international players played high school tennis in the U.S., having this many experienced players from South America, Asia and Europe is exceptionally rare, and bodes well for the squad’s prospects during the spring season. 

This past Saturday, Fordham drove up the Hudson River to visit Marist College in Poughkeepsie for a scrimmage match. They will continue preseason play this Saturday as they head to Staten Island to face Wagner College. Sunday they will play a double header, first at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York at 10 a.m. and then come home to face Franklin Pierce University in the afternoon.