Women’s Tennis Competes in West Point Invitational


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Amanda Rivera-Gonzalez (above) made it to the Flight D singles finals.

Amanda McKean, Staff Writer

On Friday, the Villanova women’s tennis team went to West Point Academy to play in its invitational, which lasted until Sunday. The tournament consisted of about 20 schools. The lineup for the Wildcats consisted of 10 players in total, which fluctuated due to injuries throughout the weekend. 

“We were allowed four doubles teams and eight singles players, so two players only got to play singles and two players only got to play doubles,” head coach Steve Reiniger explained. “During the fall, I try to get everybody to play just for practice and to see who’s gonna help out more in the lineup come springtime.”

The singles play did not start strong for the Wildcats on Friday. Sophomores Valieriia Kornieva and Emma Brogan both lost in the early rounds of Flight A. Additionally, senior captain Caitlin Fisher and junior Bella Steffen both failed to make it past the second round of Flight C. 

Only three of the Wildcats made it to the quarterfinals or beyond. One of these players was freshman Savie Seebald, who after losing the first set of her first match, battled back to win the second set. She would eventually win the third set but only after winning the 10-point tiebreaker. This was a similar scenario for her on Saturday. She won the first set by a large lead, lost the second set and then won the third set in another 10-point tie-breaker. She eventually lost in the quarterfinals. 

“She had her first taste of college tennis and had some really good comebacks,” Reiniger said of Seebald. “After losing the first set in both her first two rounds, she ended up pulling the matches out. Came up against an Army girl who won her flight so I was pleased. She played well.” 

In addition, senior captain Amanda Rivera-Gonzalez went very far in the tournament in Flight D. On Friday, she advanced through the second and third rounds and defeated her opponents in two sets each. On Saturday, she did the same thing and breezed through the quarterfinals in two sets but fought hard to win the semifinals in two sets, each with a score of 6-4. Finally, Rivera was beaten in the finals by an Army West Point player in two sets. 

However, the biggest standout of the tournament was freshman Maggie Gehrig.

After getting through the first couple of rounds, Gehrig was tested in the quarterfinals, which was her first match that went to three sets in the tournament. The third set was decided by a 10-point tiebreaker that Gehrig won. After winning another tie-breaker in the third set of the semifinals, Gehrig was off to the finals on Sunday. 

“Maggie Gehrig had an excellent tournament,” Reiniger said. “She lost in the finals of the B Flight and was very competitive. She could have won the B Flight actually. She had opportunities to win the first set, she was up 6-5. She won the second set and then lost a really close tiebreaker 11-9 in the finals. She played about as well as you could play.”

As for doubles, the Wildcats paired Gehrig with freshman Emi Callahan. The pair lost in its first match in the single-elimination doubles and faced off against the team that would eventually win all of Flight A for doubles. This same thing happened to the pair of Brogan/Kornieva. 

“They did well,” Reiniger said. “They played a tough Army team and actually had match points but didn’t convert, ending up losing in a tiebreaker. Our other doubles team Emma Brogan and Valieriia did the same thing. They played an Army team and pushed and lost, 6-4, which is about as close as you could get. We lost our serve in the very last game. We were served 4-5 and got broken. But I was very pleased. They’re definitely doing a lot of stuff that we didn’t do last year which is great.” 

The best doubles team for the Wildcats consisted of Fisher and River, who made it through the first couple of rounds on Saturday. Although they won the quarterfinals Sunday, 6-3, they ended up losing in the semifinals for Flight B, 6-3.

Overall, the tournament helped Reiniger with his creation of a lineup for the spring season.

“There is still time left, but I have a much better idea of the lineup now,” he said. “Our spring season is a little different this year. We have 10 spring matches before spring break, so there is an urgency for me to have a lineup done or a strong idea of a lineup coming into the spring. I don’t have all of the lineup figured out yet, but most of the singles and most of the doubles.”

On Friday, Sept. 30, the Wildcats head to Annapolis, Maryland to play in the Navy Blue and Gold Invitational hosted by the Naval Academy, where matches will be held all weekend long.