Men’s tennis was in a groove as they headed to the A-10 Championship. The Rams were winners in 10 out of their last 11 matches and appeared to be poised for a long run in the tourney. Once they reached the big event, however, Fordham had their hopes of glory dashed by a first round sweep courtesy of the Saint Joseph’s Hawks.
The Hawks were a familiar foe of the Rams, but not a welcome one — Fordham fell to St. Joseph’s 6-1 back on February 2. Along with that, the Rams drew the 11th seed in the tournament, while Saint Joe’s held the sixth. With those two elements combined, head coach Michael Sowter knew this matchup would be a difficult one. “We were the No. 11 seed, so we knew we would face a high seed,” he said. “Saint Joseph’s had beaten us pretty easily in the regular season so we were expecting a tough match.”
The match opened with the Hawks securing the doubles point with victories in the second and third positions. Junior Tomas Cosmai and sophomore Joseph Kavaloski fell to the pairing of Andres Urrea and Peter Dewitt (6-2), while the duo of freshman Victor Li and sophomore Cameron Posillico bowed out to Kyle Chalmers and Tristan Boustany (6-0). With that, the match between seniors Pedro Alonso and Nick Borak and Hawks Renier Moolman and Dan Tan went unfinished with the two pairings tied at three.
In singles, the Rams will forever be haunted with what might have been. The first victories of the session came in the fifth and sixth positions, both going the Hawks’ way. In the fifth, Andre Fick topped Kavaloski in straight sets (6-1, 7-5). It was more of the same for Posillico, who fell to Kevin Gates (6-0, 6-2). As a result, Saint Joe’s was just one win away from moving on with four positions still left to be played. That victory came in the very next match, the third position, where Alonso lost to Kyle Chalmers (7-5, 6-1) in his final match as a Ram.
Instead of playing out the final three meaningless positions, they ended right there. It was an agonizing move for Coach Sowter, as his players were winning or even in all three positions. “When the match was decided, Tomas Cosmai was leading against a player he lost to in the regular season, Victor [Li] was up in the third set, and Nick [Borak] had set point to even up his match.”
Despite the early exit, this season represented an unbelievable turnaround for the men’s tennis program at Fordham. Coach Sowter took a team from 3-13 in his first year to 17-14 in his second: “The main goal for me this year was to change the culture of the team, and I think we are on the right track,” he said. “We wanted to be more professional, continue to work hard every day, and get better as a team, and I think we achieved all those goals.”
Some standouts along the way according to Sowter have been Li, who had a tremendous season despite being a freshman, and Cosmai who “brought an intensity to the team that was lacking,” said Sowter.
This team is on the rise and with Sowter at the helm, they could climb very high in the seasons to come.