Women’s Tennis Reaches A-10 Championship for First Time in Program History


It was a magical run for Fordham Women’s Tennis at the A-10’s. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Women’s Tennis went on a magical run in the 2022 Atlantic 10 Tournament, finishing second as they fell to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the A-10 championship. While the season ends on a loss, there’s plenty to be proud of. Mike Sowter’s inaugural season with the women’s team resulted in a trip to the A-10 championship, the first in program history. It’s an impressive first season as he looks to start a new era, and one that could surely lay the foundation for greater success in the future.

Prior to the A-10 tournament, the season had already been one for the record books. Fordham entered the tournament with a round one bye and ranked as the #3 seed, their highest ranking in program history. Fordham entered the playoffs with an excellent 12-4 record and riding a four game win streak to close out the regular season. 

Action for Fordham began on Thursday afternoon, squaring off against #6 St. Louis in the quarterfinals. The Rams picked up right where they left off, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Graduate student Carlota Casasampere-Escoda and junior Rachelle Yang got the day started for Fordham with a 6-3 victory in the first doubles match of the game. Senior Nicole Li and sophomore Eleni Fasoula followed with a 6-2 win to secure the doubles point. Freshman Lorraine Bergmann and Casasampere-Escoda won the first two singles matches of the day as Fordham pushed St. Louis to the brink of elimination. St. Louis rebounded with two wins of their own in singles play before Li brought an end to the Biliken’s season, winning her singles match and sending the Rams to the semifinals.

The bracket was setup for a potential rematch between Fordham and #2 University of Massachusetts. The two squads faced each other in the regular season, with UMass emerging on top, handing Fordham their last loss of the regular season. The storylines were there, but #7 George Washington had other ideas. At 9-9 entering the tournament, they breezed past #10 Rhode Island with a 4-0 victory. Facing off against #2 UMass, GW rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win their final two singles matches, effectively pulling off the biggest surprise of the tournament, upsetting UMass who many had pegged to reach the A-10 championship. 

For Fordham, #7 George Washington was all that stood in the way from their first trip to the championship. However, it was Fordham’s turn to be pushed to the brink of elimination. Fordham was swept in doubles play while senior Valeriya Deminova and junior Avery Aude fell in the first two singles matches, giving George Washington a commanding 3-0 lead. In miraculous fashion, Fordham rallied off four straight singles wins, capped off by a nail biting thriller from Fasoula to send the Rams to the championship. 

The magic ended there as the Rams were shutout 4-0 by a powerhouse VCU team in the A-10 championship. The loss is certainly not one to be ashamed of, as VCU has dominated the A-10 tournament for the better part of a decade. The championship is their fourth in a row since 2018. VCU has won eight of the nine A-10 championships since 2013 with the University of Massachusetts victory in 2017 against VCU marking the only time VCU didn’t win the tournament in the last 10 years. 

The Rams finish the season with an overall record of 14-5. It was a fantastic year for Deminova, who lost just five total matches the entire year and just one in the regular season. Every single member of the team finished with an overall record over .500. As we look towards the years to come for this program, the future is bright. The youth of the team, particularly sophomore Eleni Fasoula and freshman Lorraine Bergmann, really impressed and cemented themselves as reliable players. Head coach Mike Sowter completely elevated the program in his first season so there’s no telling what he’ll be able to do as he gains more experience with the women’s team. It won’t be easy to knock off a dominant VCU program, but an A-10 championship win could certainly be in the cards in the near future.