The Villanova women’s tennis team started its season this past weekend with the Villanova Invitational. The team played Saturday against Delaware and Drexel and again Sunday against Temple. Coming off of back-to-back Big East semifinal appearances, the Wildcats racked up six singles wins and two doubles wins throughout the Invitational, which did not have team scoring.
The Wildcats kicked off the action Saturday morning with a match against Drexel. In the first match, sophomore Bella Steffen and junior Taylor Gould carried the doubles teams. The two were the lone pair to win a doubles match for Villanova by defeating Drexel’s Pauline Kharkover and Aida Garce Mendez, 7-6.
Although the doubles teams did not win the majority of their matches, the Wildcats’ singles play against the Dragons was strong. Senior Annalise Klopfer defeated Renata Lombera, 8-5, junior Caitlin Fisher defeated Cristina Corte Gonzalez, 8-3, Steffen defeated Tara Veluvolu, 8-6, senior Olivia Kapp defeated Mya Fuentes, 8-3 and senior Sabina Grigorian defeated Kharkover, 8-3. Villanova trumped Drexel in these five matches, starting off the Invitational dominant on its home court.
In their second match of the day, Villanova battled Delaware. Sophomore Rose Kenny secured the only win of the match for the Wildcats, defeating Isabella Montana, 8-3, in singles play.
After a night’s rest, the team entered the courts focused Sunday morning to take on Temple. The ‘Cats’ singles matches, although close, did not fall in their favor, as all seven of their matches fell to Temple. In doubles play, three of the four pairs lost to the Owls. However, to conclude the Invitation, Kapp and Fisher paired up in doubles play to defeat Vineetha Mummadi and Stefaniya Surikova, 6-3. This was the only win for the ‘Cats on Sunday.
The Villanova Invitational provided the team with a solid start to the season. Steffen, Fisher and Kapp are leaving the weekend each having a singles and a doubles win to start the 2021-22 season and proved to be a major component in the Wildcats’ Invitational success.
Looking ahead, the team expects much success for the spring season. Klopfer is coming off of an electric season. Last spring, the senior earned First Team All-Big East honors as a unanimous first team selection. She, along with now-graduated Lexi DeNucci, garnered two all-conference honors for the first time in Villanova history. With Klopfer leading her team in the coming season, success is sure to follow.
Villanova also has two new freshmen, Emma Brogan from Kennesaw, Georgia and Valieriia Kornieva from Dnipro, Ukraine. Boasting impressive resumes, the two have 10 returning players to look up to and follow throughout the start of their Villanova experience.
Head Coach Steve Reiniger is now entering his 24th season at Villanova. The talent in this group of women combined with Coach Reiniger’s guidance has proven to be effective as the team’s last two seasons have brought it into the Big East semifinals. Last April, the team advanced to the semifinals with a 4-0 win over Creighton, where they lost 4-1 to DePaul.
To continue the season, Villanova will head down south to West Virginia for the Thunder in the Mountains tournament hosted by both West Virginia State and Marshall from Sep. 24-26. The Wildcats will face the two hosts and St. Francis during that tournament.