Women’s Tennis Tops Seton Hall, 4-3


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Annalise Klopfer picked up a win in the top singles position against Seton Hall.

Charlotte Ralston, Staff Writer

On Sunday, March 27, the Villanova women’s tennis team fought back after dropping the doubles point early in the night for its second straight win of the season, narrowly edging Seton Hall, 4-3. The Wildcats won singles matches in the first, second, third and fourth slots to secure the victory at home in Bryn Mawr and improve their record to 2-5.

Senior-freshman doubles combinations of Annalise Klopfer and Emma Brogan, as well as Sabina Grigorian and Valieriia Kornieva, were bested in the first and second doubles matches to open the night. Each pair played the Pirates’ doubles teams competitively, but both ultimately fell, 4-6. Villanova’s third doubles pair was on the verge of victory when the whistle blew on the other two matches.

“We lost the doubles point tonight which was unfortunate, it was definitely winnable,” head coach Steve Reiniger said. “All three courts were close and, as a matter of fact, our third doubles team had match point, but we were playing to clinch, so they didn’t get to finish.”

The doubles point can be a huge advantage going into the singles matches, from the numbers standpoint and also because of the momentum it gives the winner. 

“Coming off a win off the doubles court, it can definitely help you get off to a fast start in singles, but also mentally, it can be a booster for the team,” Reiniger explained. “The realization comes into play, like ‘Hey, we could really win this match here.’”

Despite their opponents having this advantage, the ‘Cats stepped up during their individual matches to rally back from the 1-0 deficit. After top-seeded Klopfer’s dominant 6-1 victory in the first set, Seton Hall’s Arina Gumerova retired to grant Villanova the No. 1 singles point.

Villanova’s second and third singles players, Brogan and junior Caitlin Fisher, also came out on top in their matches, both claiming victory in straight sets. Brogan, still playing up a spot due to senior Emily Strande’s shoulder injury, grinded out a close 7-5 win in the first set, but pulled away in the second with a score of 6-3. Fisher also had an impressive performance, routing Seton Hall’s Aina Plana Ventosa 6-2, 6-3. 

Having moved up to the fourth slot following her dominant match in the fifth position last week against Drexel, Kornieva shined for the second week in a row. 

“Valieriia was out the whole fall, so she’s been the one I’ve been most curious about,” Reiniger said. “She’s just starting to play better and better and better, sitting out the fall, and then she was out actually the first maybe week and a half of the spring. She’s really had a late start, but she just gets better every day.”

After dropping the first set, 6-4, Kornieva battled back to win the next two, 6-4, 6-2, in a display of the optimism and spirit that Reiniger emphasizes is so special about this team.

“The kind of team we have, they’re very positive, so when we were 0-5, you didn’t really know it,” he said. “They kept fighting, and they all have great attitudes. It makes coaching a lot easier.”

While No. 5 sophomore Bella Steffen and No. 6 junior Amanda Rivera-Gonzalez fell to their Seton Hall opponents, wins in the top four matches were enough to tip the scale in Villanova’s favor. The dual match victory extends Villanova’s win streak to two and marks its first Big East conference win of the season. 

“All matches are important, but definitely Big East matches are more important,” Reiniger said. “I’m sure [players] realize any time we play a Big East opponent, our seeding for our conference tournament comes into play, so everybody tries to gear up for that.”

As the ‘Cats prepare for their next competition, another Big East matchup against St. John’s, they look to continue this hot streak and maintain their perfect conference record with a third straight victory on the season. Powerhouse St. John’s is 3-0 in the Big East this spring and has won five matches in a row, so it will be a tough contest for Villanova. The dual match kicks off this Friday, April 1, at 12 p.m. in Queens, NY.