Women’s Tennis Starts Season On Three-Game Winning Streak

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The women’s tennis team has started the season by winning its first three matches (Emily Sayegh/The Fordham Ram).

By Charlie Maisano

The women’s tennis team has started the season by winning its first three matches (Emily Sayegh/The Fordham Ram).

The season is only three games deep for the Fordham women’s tennis team, but it has already started a winning streak, winning all three of its matches.

Last Friday, the Rams travelled to New Jersey to face the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders, who were 1-1 entering the contest. The match drew familiar faces for both sides since some of the players faced each other only three weeks ago at the NJIT Winter Invitational.

Although the event was more individual based and the Rams had a recent history with the Highlanders, Head Coach Bette-Ann Liguori didn’t want her team to underprepare.

“I try to encourage the players to play competitively over the winter break but some of them can’t,” Liguori said. “So, the NJIT Invite, which is an individual event with no team scoring, is meant to give them match play after a long winter break and thus determining who will make the starting line-up. We then can prepare better for our matches when we know what our line-up is, but with illnesses and injury it could change, so we must be ready to make adjustments.”

The Rams entered the match on Friday unexpectedly shorthanded, as junior Gianna Insogna was a late scratch due to injury. To add insult to injury, junior Tatiana Grigoryan was kept out of practice all week due to an illness but made a game-time decision to play that afternoon.

With the subtraction of Insogna, Liguori bumped up junior Alexis Zobeideh from sixth to fifth singles and inserted senior Carolina Sa into the sixth singles spot. In doubles, Sa took Insogna’s spot again in the third team and partnered with sophomore Maia Balce.

Just like the first two matches, junior Carina Ma and senior Estelle Wong got things started for the Rams, as they both won their singles matches. In their doubles match they cruised past NJIT’s Mayar Eltony and Advaita Saravanan 6-1.
Liguori thinks the star duo’s chemistry is off the charts and attributed their brilliant singles play to the confidence they have in themselves.

“Carina and Estelle are really clicking in doubles and their chemistry is playing a huge part. They actually really enjoy playing together and it gives them great confidence going into their singles matches,” said Ligouri.

Liguori also praised the two for stepping up individual in their singles play, where they have dominated as well.

As for the rest of the team, Balce picked up the Ram’s only other singles victory by defeating Highlanders junior Rafaella Sampaio in two sets 6-1, 6-3. Needing a sweep in the doubles matches for the victory, it was up to the second and third team to get the job done. After two hard fought matches, both teams pulled out a 7-6 victory and gave the Rams their third win in a row.

Liguori was ecstatic with her team’s hard fought and well-deserved victory.

“Our win against NJIT was truly significant. Having to change the line-up minutes before the match started, put tremendous pressure on everyone. Tatiana and Lexi Zobeideh were down 4-1 in second doubles, but made an incredible comeback fending off two match points in the tie-breaker. Additionally, Maia Balce and Carolina Sa really picked up their game to close out the tie-breaker, having not played together since last year. We really came together as a team to win the doubles point and ultimately the match,” said Liguori.

After three straight games on the road, the Rams return home this week to battle the Saint John’s Red Storm on Friday at 7 p.m. When the two teams met last year, the Red Storm bested the Rams 5-2, snapping the team’s long 17 match winning streak.

Liguori knows this match will be a challenge, but believes her squad can still pull out a possible short-handed victory.
“With the possibility of not having one of my starters, I just want us to practice well this week and compete to our highest level and believe. If we can accomplish this, then I believe we can take them,” said Liguori.

The Rams won’t have to dig deep in their memories to motivate themselves for the Saint John’s match; last year, the Red Storm snapped its historic winning streak. By using that as the fuel to their fire, the Rams could very well walk out of their match with the Red Storm as winners of four straight games.