Women’s Tennis Falls to 0-3 on the Season – The Villanovan

On Friday, Feb. 11, the Villanova women’s tennis team fell to the University of Delaware, 6-1, its third straight loss to open the spring season. The match also marked the Wildcats’ third consecutive loss to the Blue Hens, with their last win over Delaware coming in 2016.

This season, the team has yet to win a doubles match. Head coach Steve Reiniger has been experimenting with different combinations, but the process takes time. While he switched up the third doubles pairing for the match at Delaware, partnering junior Caitlin Fisher with senior Oliva Kapp for the first time since the preseason, Reiniger said he’s open to changes in any of the pairings.

“I’ll probably try [the Fisher and Kapp combination] for another match,” Reiniger said about the third doubles slot. “And when I say ‘mix up the doubles combinations,’ it could go [for slots] one through three, because we haven’t really clicked yet. I want to give it time, I want them to try to get used to playing with each other.”

While Fisher and Kapp went down 6-1, the number two duo of freshman Emma Brogan and senior Sabina Gregorian played a competitive 6-4 set, putting up a fight but ultimately failing to come out on top. The highest seeded pairing, seniors Annalize Klopfer and Emily Strande, did not finish their set, but the two losses alone were enough to award the Blue Hens the first point of the day in the doubles category.

Despite the setback in her doubles set, Klopfer continued her dominant streak for the ‘Cats in singles play later that afternoon. She came from behind to defeat Delaware’s Eliza Askarova in three sets after dropping the first, 4-6, to earn Villanova’s sole point of the match.

†[Klopfer] lost to [Askarova] last year, so that was great for her to really step up,” Cleaner said. “She took care of her in the third set. It was 6-1, so she played as well as I’ve seen her play.”

A transfer student from Navy in her second season Villanova, Klopfer has emerged at the backbone of the Wildcats’ lineup. After maintaining the top spot in both singles and doubles from last season and opening spring 2022 with three straight singles victories, Klopfer knows a thing or two about winning. Her success and seniority on the team gives her a unique ability to help advise her team as it looks to turn the season around.

“I had Annalize just talk to the team about how she competes before the match,” Reiniger said. “So on Thursday, she talked to the team, and it was good to hear her angle on how she approaches tennis.”

Despite this motivation from their teammate, the ‘Cats lost all five of their other singles matches in straight sets. But, it was not for lack of heart.

“The effort’s always good,” Cleaner said. “As far as character is concerned, they always fight really hard. I don’t have to worry about that.”

Looking forward, Reiniger stressed the importance of perfecting his lineup, a goal he has been focusing on throughout the beginning of the season as the team adjusts back to normal play post-pandemic.

†[I’m] just trying to make sure I have the individuals in both the singles and doubles, and [trying] to make sure I have the lineup correct,” Cleaner said. “It’s been weird with COVID, we’ve had a few issues in the spring to start the season, so I just want to make sure I’m not overlooking anybody.”

The Wildcats look to capture their first team victory of the season on Saturday, Feb. 19 at Temple. In preparation for this match, Reiniger reported that the team is continuing to hone its doubles pairings after a stronger individual showing in singles versus Delaware.

“Our main focus will be on the doubles, [trying] to improve what we’re doing, and there’s a few individuals who can work on specifics,” Reiniger said. “Then, as a team, we’ll continue to work on closing and putting pressure on returning serves.”

After being swept by Temple at the preseason Villanova Invitational in singles, and Fisher and Kapp capturing the sole doubles win for the team, squaring off against the Owls this weekend will be a challenge for the ‘Cats. The Philadelphia-area rivalry is set for 7 p.m. Saturday night.

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