Change has been in the air on the men’s tennis court. “I try not to focus too much on last year’s performance,” said head coach Michael Sowter. “I was a new coach, with a new team and we really had to start from scratch to change the culture of the program.”
He has succeeded in that objective — the horrors of last year’s 3-13 season are now distant memories. His team sits at 9-5, winners of five in a row and playing their best tennis of the season, something that could not have been imagined just a short time ago.
Following a gutsy 4-3 victory over Hofstra and a 7-0 thrashing of Drew, the Rams looked for their third win in a row with a rare weekday game on Wednesday against Holy Cross. Fordham secured the crucial doubles point, a thorn in their side all year, with junior Tomas Cosmai and sophomore Joseph Kavaloski getting past Peter Campito and Elmar Lutz 6-3. Freshman Victor Li and sophomore Cameron Posillico rolled past Henry Harris and Michael Varda 6-1. In singles, the Rams took the first three points, clinching the match with three positions still left to be played. Cosmai got past Varda in straight sets, 6-0, 7-6. Victory came even easier for Li and Kavaloski, who allowed their opponents a total of five points in the second and third position. Harris and Charlie Volwein were on the losing end. Holy Cross made it close by taking the last three positions over Posillico, sophomore Harris Durkovic and freshman Chris Caroli, but the result was already decided.
Fordham’s next two matches would not be nearly as close. First, the Rams faced Yeshiva on Friday night. Once again, the doubles point was not an issue. Seniors Nick Borak and Pedro Alonso, both of whom had sat out the previous match, topped Dmitri Lebedyev and Eitan Rudansky 6-3. Posillico and Durkovic bested Daron Greenblatt and Charlie Friedman 6-2. There were no issues in singles either, as the Rams easily secured five out of the six points. Cosmai and Kavaloski both got their second straight singles triumphs over David Papis Elon (7-5, 6-3) and Charlie Friedman (6-2, 6-3). Posillico and Durkovic recovered from losses against Holy Cross, taking matches against Eitan Rudansky (6-1, 6-0) and Daron Greenblatt (6-0, 6-0). Finally, Borak made it two-for-two when he bested Mikey Ozery (7-5, 3-6, 10-3), for a 6-1 Fordham victory and the fourth win in a row.
Next, Fordham faced Hunter College. The Rams once again posted a 6-1 triumph. Fordham had no trouble obtaining the doubles point once again. Posillico and Durkovic swept Filip Koritysskiy and Ard Pula (6-0), and the Cosmai-Kavaloksi duo notched their third straight victory as a pair, over Carlos Sala and Florimund Le Goupil-Maier (6-2).
Coach Sowter believes that it was only a matter of time before his team found success in the doubles game.
“We were always having close results and with the new format adopted by the NCAA this year, a doubles match can often hinge on one or two points,” he said. “Right now, we are playing smarter and more consistent on those crucial points.”
Durkovic swept Pula in singles action (6-0, 6-0) for his second victory in a row in the sixth position. While Kavaloski allowed only one point against David Joseph and Posillico clinched his third match in four games in the fifth spot, getting past Koritysskiy (6-3, 6-1).
Coach Sowter cited the pair’s importance over the five-game stretch. “Joe Kavaloski and Cameron Posillico have really matured throughout the course of the year and they are both playing great tennis at the moment,” he said. “They were vital in our win against Hofstra and have done a great job of bolstering the bottom of the line-up.”
In the other spots, Li and Borak secured the other two points, while an Alonso loss handed the Hawks their only point.
The Rams have five games left before the Atlantic 10 Championship later this month. Next up is Rider on April 6.
“We are competing better in every position and we are playing with a lot more purpose as we approach the conference tournament,” said Sowter.