By Alvin Halimwidjaya
After losing their first team match to Drexel, Fordham women’s tennis rebounded with two wins this week, beating Rutgers 4-3 and the New Jersey Institute of Technology 6-1. Both games were on the road, with the Rams traveling to Piscataway on Friday, Feb. 10 and Newark on Saturday, Feb. 11.
After losing to Drexel, Fordham started off poorly on Friday, dropping the first two doubles sets. Sophomore Carina Ma and junior Estelle Wong lost to Chloe Lee and Ksenija Tihomirova 6-1, while freshman Maia Balce and sophomore Gianna Insogna fell to Katherine Muzik and Mingxiu Du 6-2. Though they ended up losing the doubles point, Fordham managed to win the last set, with senior Mayu Sato and sophomore Alexis Zobeideh pulling out a win over Jacqueline Cochrane and Farris Cunningham 7-6 and giving the Rams momentum going into their singles matches.
When asked about Fordham’s subpar doubles play, head coach Bette-Ann Liguori said, “We have a lot to work on in our doubles play, so we know that our singles have to be spot on to make up the difference. They know that they have to let the doubles point go and move forward to take the singles.”
In line with Liguori’s sentiment, Fordham managed to turn their luck around during singles play. Ma was the first to shift momentum, defeating Mingxiu Du 6-1, 6-2, and Fordham proceeded to rattle off three more wins afterwards. Balce bounced back from her poor first set to beat Chloe Lee 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Sato mounted an even more impressive comeback, winning against Jacqueline Cochrane 0-6, 6-4, 6-3. Senior Destiny Grunin provided their last singles win, defeating Farris Cunningham 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. Wong dropped her match to Ksenija Tihomirova 6-4, 6-1, and Insogna fell to Katherine Muzik 6-4, 0-6, 7-5, but Fordham had done enough to pull out a win over Rutgers.
The next day, Fordham traveled to face NJIT and built on their success by taking the doubles point. The duo of Ma and Wong beat Rafaella Sampaio and Mayan Eltony 6-4, while the tandem of Sato and Zobeideh won against Natacha Minc and Natalija Tasovac 6-3. Balce and Insogna took the only loss in doubles play, falling to Nathalie Habegger and Alba Rosas Garcia 6-3.
Fordham continued to dominate NJIT, winning five of six matches in singles play. Ma defeated Rafaella Sampaio 6-4, 6-1, while Wong pulled out a three-set victory over Mayan Eltony 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. Balce defeated Nathalie Habegger 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, and Sato managed to beat Alba Rosas Garcia 7-5, 6-4. Grunin completed the blowout with a win over Natalija Tasovac 6-1, 6-1, and Insogna fell to Natacha Minc 6-3, 7-5 in Fordham’s only loss in singles play on Saturday.
Coach Liguori knew that the Rams had what it took for this statement win. “As a player and as a team, we take each point at a time. We focus on our matches individually and must have tunnel vision in order to succeed. We knew that we could dominate against NJIT because Rutgers played them and beat them 6-1, and we beat Rutgers.”
Liguori was pleased with the team’s overall performance throughout the week, stating that “the first two wins were tremendous for our confidence. We had to rebound after our loss to Drexel, which was a bad loss for us. Our win against a Big Ten team made us believe in our potential. I’m a big believer in momentum, and our goal is to peak as team players by April, when we start our A-10 matches. As a team, we are in a better place this early in the season, which is a plus.”
The Rams return to action on Friday, Feb. 17 as they play Hofstra at Life Time Athletic in their first home game of the season.