Women’s Tennis Earns Two Crucial Wins


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Annalise Klopfer (above) continues winning streak, goes 3-0 in her singles matchups.

Charlotte Ralston, Staff Writer

The Villanova women’s tennis team went 2-1 this week, falling to Temple, 4-2, in between narrow 4-3 victories over Saint Joseph’s and UConn. The ‘Cats moved to a 4-8 season record, going 2-1 in the Big East as the conference tournament on April 21-24 draws closer. 

Throughout the week’s three matches, the Wildcats failed to win a doubles point. On April 5, junior Caitlin Fisher and senior Olivia Kapp defeated Saint Joseph’s third doubles pair, 6-3. On April 9, senior Annalise Klopfer and freshman Emma Brogan stormed to a dominant 6-2 win in the first slot against Temple for the team’s only victories out of eight completed doubles sets. However, head coach Steve Reiniger insisted that the sparse win column is not an accurate reflection of the team’s improvement in doubles play this season.

“Sometimes, it doesn’t always equate to a win, but they’re definitely playing better, smarter doubles,” he explained. “They’re doing what we’re working on in practice, so that’s great to see. They’re getting both players closer to the net more often, their shot selection is better, there’s just a lot of things that they’re doing collectively better that we weren’t doing early on.”

To bounce back from these early 1-0 deficits, Villanova scrambled to make up the difference in singles. Against Saint Joseph’s, the team buckled down for four of six singles wins to capture the come-from-behind victory on Tuesday afternoon. 

It’s very easy to make an excuse, like to blame the wind, blame the cold,” Reiniger said. “No one did that. It definitely proved to be the difference.”

The team won two of the first three singles matches, with sophomore Isabella Steffen beating her opponent decisively, 6-4, 6-1, in the fifth slot. Freshman Valieriia Kornieva followed with a 7-5, 6-2 win in fourth to tie the match at two. Klopfer continued her singles winning streak in the first position in a back-and-forth match, dropping the second set, 3-6, after a tense 7-6 victory in the first, but she rolled to a 6-0 victory in the third to take the lead for Villanova. In a match-deciding showdown, Brogan came out on top, going 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 in the second slot to give the ‘Cats the victory. 

In the week’s second local matchup, Villanova squared off against Temple on Saturday. The talented Temple squad is 11-4 this season and was undefeated when the two teams last met at the Villanova Invitational in September. Despite the odds, Klopfer and Brogan secured points for the team in the first and second singles slots in addition to winning their fourth of six doubles matches as partners this season. Klopfer dropped only one game in her 6-0, 6-1 victory up top, and Brogan played a competitive 6-4 opening set before coasting to a 6-2 win in the second. However, without any other wins in the lineup, the effort was not enough to best the Owls.

On Sunday, April 10, the ‘Cats had another major Big East faceoff against UConn, where victory yet again came down to the final match. Klopfer moved to 10-1 in singles play this season with her seventh straight win, making quick work of her opponent, 6-0, 6-1. In the third position, Fisher battled until the end in a 7-5, 2-6, 6-2 win, while Kornieva’s straight set 6-4, 6-2 victory in fourth tied Villanova with the Huskies at three. Ultimately, the decision came down to one court: junior Amanda Rivera-Gonzalez in the sixth slot.

“It couldn’t have been more stressful because I know she understood that she was the last one on the court, and we were playing clinch-clinch,” Reiniger said. “So, if you’re playing singles and you’re the last person out, you know that your match is the difference.”

After taking the first set, 6-4, but losing the second, 3-6, Rivera-Gonzalez refused to buckle under pressure. Keeping a level head and a positive attitude, she ground out a 6-4 nail-biter to grant the ‘Cats the afternoon’s win. 

Villanova now has one regular-season match left, which is Big East matchup at Georgetown this Saturday, April 16. With the seeding ramifications, this match could be the difference between getting a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament or playing an extra match. 

“Everybody’s got to play their best singles and doubles, and we can win there, but if everybody doesn’t play their best tennis, we’re not going to win that match,” Reiniger stressed. “That team is too tough. Everybody’s got to bring their A-plus game.”

The ‘Cats are set to play the 7-12 Hoyas at 9:30 Saturday morning in Washington, DC. A win this weekend would boost not only Villanova’s seeding but also its momentum as it looks toward the Big East conference tournament in less than two weeks.