Fall Preview: Can Women’s Tennis Serve it Back?

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Fall Preview: Can Women’s Tennis Serve it Back?

Fordham Women's Tennis looks to contend for an Atlantic 10 title this year. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Women's Tennis looks to contend for an Atlantic 10 title this year. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Women's Tennis looks to contend for an Atlantic 10 title this year. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Fordham Women's Tennis looks to contend for an Atlantic 10 title this year. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

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By Dylan Balsamo

Fordham Women’s Tennis squad has a tall order on their hands coming up in the fall of 2019 and the spring of 2020.

That task: pick up the pieces of what they lost after last season.

Finishing out the 2019 spring season at 11–11, Fordham was the seventh seed in the Atlantic 10 conference when they entered the conference tournament at the USTA National Campus at Orlando, Florida in late April, and they found themselves making it to the second round before falling to second-seeded George Washington, getting swept by the Colonials 4–0. Arina Taluyenko and Tatiyana Grigoryan fought hard in doubles, and Gianna Insogna even won a set against Victoria Kogan in singles, but the Rams left the matchup without a point.

A-10 women’s tennis has 14 teams, meaning the Rams coming in seventh over the regular season leaves them just squeezing in to the top half of the conference. That is not a result that any squad is particularly satisfied with, but it is certainly a season that a team building up its program can be used as a launching pad, especially with the talent among the eight members of the 2018–19 squad.

Here’s the catch: four of those eight (Grigoryan, Insogna, Whitney Weisberg and Alexis Zobeideh) were seniors that have now graduated. In a sport where rosters are that small, losing half can be a devastating blow, but there is absolutely more than just a glimmer of hope for these Fordham Rams.

Sophomore Nicole Li is coming off a stellar rookie season, going 16–11 in singles play as a freshman, earning an Atlantic 10 Co-Player of the Week honor, and still finding time to be an ITA Scholar-Athlete and make the Atlantic 10 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Genevieve Quenville also had a freshman season of promise in 2019 going 8–9 in singles and 11–6 in doubles. She was named to the Commissioner’s Honor Roll as well.

As the lone senior, Maia Balce will be the rock of the squad. The native of the Philippines was named to the second team All-Conference in both her freshman and sophomore years. Her junior year in 2018–19 saw considerably less success, and Balce will look to rekindle her old success in 2019–20.

The guiding light for this team, however, will be Arina Taluyenko. She was named to the All-Atlantic 10 first team last season, her first at Fordham, was awarded the conference’s Player of the Week twice and was named the best player in the Republic of Kazakhstan at age 14. If the Rams find themselves in a hole this year, expect Taluyenko to be entrusted with the shovel.

The 2019–20 season would be a difficult season of rebounding for the Fordham program, as it would be for any program. But if there is a squad that can navigate times like these, it is these Rams.