Tennis starts strong at Bloomsburg

Kyle Scudilla

The men and women’s tennis teams scored some big victories in early season action at Bloomsburg University’s invitational tournament, held this past weekend.

The tournament, which also played host to Binghamton (N.Y.) and Bucknell, marked the opening matches for Villanova’s women’s team and proved to be a great start for this year’s squad.

No. 2 singles player Colleen Speaker swept all three matches she participated in, including a straight sets, 6-0, 6-0, victory against Bucknell’s Veronica Brown. Sophomore Candice Carlin won in her No. 1 singles match against Bloomsburg’s Iida Hokkanen.

In other singles action, Courtney Flezzani, Leighann Reilly and Morgan Flezzani each earned splits in their matches.

The winning trend carried over to the team’s doubles matches. Candice Carlin and Colleen Speaker paired up to defeat the doubles teams from Bloomsburg and Binghamton.

Other doubles victories were achieved when the pair of Flezzani and Reilly, along with the team of Lindsey Puchyr and Katie Fleszar each came out on top in their matches against Binghamton.

Women’s coach Steven Reiniger was very impressed with what he saw out of freshman Colleen Speaker.

“[She] appears to be a strong contributor in both singles and doubles,” the eighth-year coach said after this weekend’s action.

The tournament was the first of three the team will compete in during the fall season, which acts as a tune-up for the main tennis season in the spring.

The men had comparable success to the women in their weekend matches.

No. 1 singles player and senior Aaron Kusza won two of his three matches against the top competition in the men’s tournament. Kusza also paired with teammate Dimitri Chimerakis to defeat Binghamton’s No. 1 doubles squad of Dan Hunegby and Brian O’Conner.

However, that was not the only doubles success for Villanova to be found at the tournament.

The Wildcats also saw victories from the doubles pairs of Ricardo Balardi and Jorge Rodriguez, as well as Scott Fahrendorf and Charlie Farmer. Each team triumphed in matches against Binghamton’s doubles teams.

Coach Bob Batman, who is now in his 12th season as Villanova’s men’s tennis head coach, is very enthusiastic about his team’s early performance this season.

“Anchored by the experience of four seniors, six freshmen gained valuable competition at the collegiate level and showed that they can more than hold their own,” Coach Batman said when discussing his team’s prospects for this season.

“With an odd team combination of seniors and freshman, I was very pleased with the way the freshmen responded to some very good competition,” he added.

The men return to the courts on Thursday when the will play host to Millersville University (Penn.). The match, set for 3 p.m., marks the home opener for the men’s tennis team. Meanwhile, the women will hit the road for their next match, which will have them squaring off with St. Joseph’s on, Sept. 21.