Women’s Tennis Loses Twice


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Annalise Klopfer (above) picked up a singles win on Friday.

Charlotte Ralston, Staff Writer

The Villanova women’s tennis team came up short in two matches this weekend on Friday, April 1 and Saturday, April 2. The team lost against St. John’s and Loyola Maryland, 6-1 and 5-2, respectively. The ‘Cats had a third consecutive match against Providence scheduled for April 3, but the Big East matchup was canceled midway through as rain set in on the Villanova courts. These two back-to-back losses drop the team’s record to 2-7 on the season.

Although senior Annalise Klopfer captured her fourth straight singles win on Friday, moving to a dominant 7-1 singles record this spring, it was not enough to overcome powerhouse St. John’s, and Villanova failed to win another point against the Red Storm.

“With [Klopfer], it’s a little expected, she was All-Big East last year,” head coach Steve Reiniger said of the number one player’s strong start this season. “I think she’s been our best player in maybe 20 years.”

Villanova lost the rest of its singles matches against St. John’s in straight sets, but Klopfer and current doubles partner freshman Emma Brogan, playing up to replace injured senior Emily Strande, found success in the first doubles position, outlasting their opponents in a 7-5 nailbiter. Senior Sabina Grigorian and freshman Valieriia Kornieva were bested, 6-2, in the second slot, while in the third, junior Caitlin Fisher and senior Olivia Kapp were defeated by the same narrow 7-5 margin. Despite losing the doubles point, Reiniger was encouraged by Friday’s showing and the overall progress he has seen in the doubles pairings over the season. 

“I think the doubles teams have been playing better,” he said. “[Against] St. John’s, we actually had two set points at third doubles to clinch the doubles point, but we got some unlucky breaks so it just didn’t fall our way.” 

Following Friday’s match in Queens, NY, the Wildcats traveled home to Villanova to face off against the Loyola Greyhounds on Saturday. Klopfer and Brogan were again victorious in a decisive 6-2 match in the top doubles slot to open the day, marking their third win in four matches as partners. Although the other two pairs each fell, both matches were competitive, with Grigorian and Kornieva suffering a 6-4 loss at No. 2 and Fisher and Kapp falling in a hard-fought 7-5 set in third. 

To preserve his highest-seeded player for the Big East dual match that was scheduled for the next day against Providence, Reiniger pulled Klopfer from the singles lineup against Loyola. Playing up two spots between the absences of Klopfer and Strande, Brogan was defeated by the Greyhounds’ top player, 6-4, 6-2. 

“She had to step into the one spot as a freshman, so she battled her butt off, but maybe it’s a little early for her to jump into that one spot and succeed,” Reiniger said of Brogan’s performance on Saturday. “Next year, if I do the math, it looks like probably [Brogan] would be our number one player once [Klopfer] and [Strande] graduate.”

Playing at the head of the lineup in this Loyola dual match will provide Brogan with valuable experience as she prepares to step into the top spot next season.

The Wildcats’ two points of the day came in the second and third slots from Fisher and Kornieva. After dropping the first set, 4-6, Fisher rallied from behind to take control of the match. She won the second set, 6-2, and sailed to a 6-0 victory in the third to complete the comeback. 

Kornieva started out hot in the third position, blanking her opponent, 6-0, and held on for a 6-4 victory in the second set to clinch Villanova’s second and final point. Although two of the ‘Cats’ three other matches went to three sets, Kapp, sophomore Bella Steffen and freshman Chloe Floyd were all ultimately defeated to give Loyola the victory.

As the season comes to a close, the outcomes of Villanova’s last two Big East matches against UConn and Georgetown are crucial for determining its seeding in the conference tournament. Battling injuries and the exhaustion of playing multiple matches a week, the entire roster has to be ready to step into the rotation if necessary.

“I’ve told the team in the past, if you’re not in the singles lineup, you’ve got to prepare like you are,” Reiniger said. “It’s just making sure we’ve got the depth needed to compete when players go down, that’s probably the first priority.”

Up next, the ‘Cats are scheduled to play local rivals Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday, April 5 and Temple on Saturday, April 9. While Temple in particular will pose a challenge for Villanova, earning wins against these local teams will give the team vital momentum before it squares off against its last two Big East competitors to cap off the season.