The Binghamton women’s tennis team commenced its 2019-20 season this weekend in Annapolis, Maryland at the Navy Invitational. Over the course of the three-day tournament, the Bearcats picked up 13 total wins in the nine-team event, with freshman Jamie Lau ultimately leading the way.
Lau played well in her Bearcats debut, winning three singles matches in the “C” singles flight against players from Howard and Niagara. She received high praise from her coach, who was impressed with her ability to strategize and play effectively in her first collegiate tennis event.
“Jamie did really well,” said Binghamton head coach Libby McGovern. “She came out of the gate and made some good adjustments in the first match to be able to pull out a win in her first collegiate singles match. There were moments during the weekend where you could tell that getting used to playing at this level becomes overwhelming, but overall, she made some really good changes and progress to her strategy.”
Lau won her first round matchup 6-0, 6-3 against Niagara’s junior Megan Gamble before eventually losing 6-4, 6-3 in the main draw quarterfinal to Lehigh’s junior Catherine Meighan. She went on to defeat Howard freshman Emnet Simunyola in a consolation match and Niagara freshman Madigan Humiston in an extra singles match.
Another standout Bearcat in the Navy Invitational was senior Samara Eisenberg, who teamed with junior Ashley Granieri to secure a pair of doubles victories against sophomore Nicole Gasser and freshman Emily Manzo of Monmouth 6-0, 6-0 and St. Bonnie’s junior Buse Gunay and sophomore Emily Stanley 7-6, 7-5.
Eisenberg also picked up an “A” singles win over Lehigh junior Paula Gonzalez, 8-3. McGovern said she was pleased with her tenacious performance in each match and how she was able to constantly adapt to her opponents’ playing styles.
“Samara is a great competitor,” McGovern said. “She goes out and works hard and problem solves all the way through her matches, from beginning to end. As her opponents make adjustments, she adjusts back. I can never have enough positive things to say about what she brings to our team.”
Junior Michelle Eisenberg, sister of Samara, was victorious in a nail-biter “A” singles win over Gonzalez 8-7, 7-5 to put her into the semifinals. She eventually lost 8-6 to senior Andreea Peteu of Niagara.
While the Bearcats picked up a string of victories in the singles flights, they were less consistent in the doubles brackets. In the “A” doubles flight, Michelle Eisenberg and Lau fell 6-2 to Navy senior Aimee Dervishian and sophomore Annalise Klopfer in the quarterfinals. They then dropped their flight 7-5, 7-1 to Fairleigh Dickinson freshman Amina Lasheen and senior Tatiana Eftenoiu in the consolation semifinals. The Bearcats did get some support from sophomore Regina Furer and freshman Julia Gumieniak in a doubles “C” win over juniors Chinonye Gabriel and Sydney DeNardo of Monmouth before losing 6-3 to Howard junior Aria Ragas and freshman Courtni Stewart.
The Navy Invitational gave the Bearcats an early idea of how they stack up against other competitive schools. While there were a number of close matches that slipped away, McGovern seemed happy with the team’s performance overall and optimistic about what lies ahead.
“We competed, we did a lot of things that we needed to do well to be successful,” McGovern said. “We lost some close matches that, over the course of the season, we will hopefully start to pull those matches out and play some bigger points.”
The feelings of excitement and angst that come with starting a new season may have slightly hindered the team’s performance, according to McGovern, but with more tournaments right around the corner, the Bearcats will have opportunities to grow and come back stronger against fresh competition.
“Obviously in the first week of competition there are some jitters,” McGovern said. “But it’s great to get back on the court and compete, and get our headspace right for the next couple of months as we finish our fall season.”
The women’s tennis team will return to the courts on Friday, Sept. 27 to compete at the Army Invitational in West Point, New York.