After falling in the America East (AE) semifinals for the second straight year last spring, Binghamton University’s women’s tennis team competed for the first time this weekend at the Cornell Invite. The Bearcats, who compiled an 8-13 record in 2016, won three singles matches while struggling in doubles play.
This season, BU has four freshmen, which makes the roster the program’s youngest since the 2013-14 season. Binghamton must deal with the graduation of three talented seniors — Shea Brodsky, Agatha Ambrozy and Alexis Tashiro. Last season, the trio led the Bearcats to a sweep of Hartford in the quarterfinal round of the AE Tournament.
According to BU head coach Libby McGovern, the roster’s youth was evident in the first tournament of the season.
“There were moments when our nerves got the best of us, and [the freshmen] kind of realized that they’re not just representing themselves, but they’re representing their teammates and the school in general,” McGovern said.
Although their performances may have been weakened by early-season jitters, McGovern believes that the Bearcats gained experience that will aid them moving forward.
“On the whole, they competed well; they made good adjustments during their matches that were appropriate for the situation and got a feel for what collegiate tennis is going to be like for the rest of the season,” she said.
The most impressive performance recorded by a member of Binghamton’s rookie class was turned in by Weston, Florida native Michelle Eisenberg. After being taken down by fourth-seeded Syracuse sophomore Maria Tritou in three sets, Eisenberg rebounded on Saturday, notching a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Cornell sophomore Mariko Iinuma in the A singles consolation bracket for her first collegiate win.
“She had two really tough singles matches and competed at an extremely high level and was able to overcome some stress during her matches and really be able to pull things back under control,” McGovern said of Eisenberg.
In addition to the large freshman class, Binghamton will also look to top returners, junior Olga Ostrovetsky and senior Annie DiMuro, to make significant contributions this year.
DiMuro was BU’s star on the first day of competition, upsetting the third seed, Buffalo junior Tanja Stojanovska, in three sets. After appearing overmatched and dropping the first set, 6-1, DiMuro executed a successful comeback, edging Stojanovska, 7-6, in the following set to force a definitive third set. The final set proved just as hard-fought as the second, and DiMuro managed to come out on top once again, 7-5, to advance in the A singles competition.
McGovern believes DiMuro’s success can be credited to her ability to stick to the game plan devised prior to the matchup.
“[DiMuro] made a lot of positive changes during her match to make sure that she was playing to her strengths and taking advantage of her opponent’s weaknesses,” McGovern said. “It was a really close match and it took a lot of guts to hang in there and stay really calm and really focused.”
Although Binghamton failed to record any individual or doubles titles this weekend, BU saw the competition as a developmental one, in which McGovern had the opportunity to gauge her players’ fitness levels as well as pinpoint any adjustments that need to be made as the season continues.
“I’m still learning about the players and their game styles and what they need to be successful and how they think their way through problem-solving during matches,” McGovern said. “We’re all kind of in a learning pattern right now where we’re just trying to figure out what everyone is most comfortable with.”
Binghamton is set to return to the court this Friday for the Navy Invitational at the Brigade Sports Complex in Annapolis, Maryland.