With a blend of veterans and newcomers, the UConn women’s tennis team is looking to improve on its 10-12 overall record from last season and to become a major contender in the Big East Conference this spring.
The Huskies will be led by junior Aleksandra Karamyshev and sophomore Isabel Petri Bere as they return to the team for the upcoming season. Karamyshev led the team last season with 19 singles victories, leaving her with a 19-16 overall record in singles play. After leading the pack in wins and recording a strong 2021-2022 season, Karamyshev will be crucial to the Huskies’ success this spring.
Petri Bere will be another key returnee for the Huskies as she enters her second season with the team. Although she’s only a sophomore, Petri Bere established herself as a major player for the Huskies last season after recording 16 singles victories, tying former Husky Julieanne Bou for the second most on the team.
UConn will rely on both Karamyshev and Bere to anchor the team this season after the key departures of Leonie Hoppe and Bou.
Hoppe, who tied Karamyshev with 19 singles wins last season, transferred to the University of New Mexico at the end of last season and is set to play for the Lobos in her junior year. In her two seasons with the Huskies, Hoppe posted a 25-20 overall singles record and often played in either the No. 1 or No. 2 position for the team in matches.
In college tennis matches, coaches create a lineup ranking their players to ensure that each school’s top players will square off against one another in singles competition. For instance, in a singles match, each school would have its No. 1 ranked player play against the opposing school’s No. 1 player, its No. 2 player square off against the opposing school’s No. 2, and so on.
In addition to Hoppe, the Huskies will have to account for the loss of Bou, who graduated last spring. Bou recorded a respectable 16 singles victories last season and finished the year with a 16-12 record, the third best on the team.
With the losses of Hoppe and Bou, UConn will rely on its four newcomers to help the team contenders in the Big East this season.
UConn added transfers Olivia Wright, Maria Constantinou and Nansi Toskova to the team this year, and according to head coach Glenn Marshall, he expects the three to become starters “seemingly right away” and to have an “immediate impact” this season.
In particular, Marshall highlighted Wright as a key addition to his UConn squad. Wright, a sophomore transfer from Providence College, played at the No. 1 position for PC and had 12 wins in singles play last season.
“She’s an immediate impact,” said Marshall. “Olivia Wright is going to play near the top of our lineup at No. 1 or 2 in singles right away and probably No. 1 in doubles.”
Constantinou, another sophomore transfer, played for the University of Delaware during the spring semester last season. Constantinou finished with an unbeaten 10-0 record in singles as both a No. 5 and No. 6 position player for the Blue Hens.
Toskova, a junior transfer from Georgia State University, will have sophomore eligibility as she joins the UConn team this fall. While Toskova didn’t play at Georgia State last season, she had two doubles wins and a singles victory for the team in the Spring of 2021.
Capping off UConn’s newcomers, freshman Cameron Didion will join the team after competing for the No. 1 position for Winter Park High School in Florida.
With four out of nine players on the team being new to UConn, Marshall said that he is looking forward to learning more about his new athletes’ abilities and helping them to develop during the fall. For the women’s tennis team, the fall season is primarily used to prepare the team for spring competitions.
Although there was no team scoring for the event, UConn achieved a combined record of 23-6 for singles and doubles at the Quinnipiac Invitational this past weekend. After getting off to a slow 2-3 start last spring, Marshall was pleased with his team’s quick and early success this fall.
“Just based on this first tournament, I’m really pleased with all of their play,” said Marshall. “Competitive-wise, I was pleased to see we were engaged and mentally ready to go because sometimes there can be a lull to kind of get started.”
In terms of important matchups this spring season, the Huskies are prioritizing their matches against Big East opponents like Villanova, who the Huskies went 1-1 against last season, and defending Big East champion Xavier.
“We’re so excited to be back in the Big East so those competitions are kind of paramount to us,” said Marshall. “We have five or six Big East opponents and those are the ones we circle; those are the ones that are most important to us.”
After finishing 2-3 in Big East play last season, the Huskies are looking to improve on their record and win at least 75% of their conference matches this spring, according to Marshall.
Additionally, the team is aiming for a top-3 finish in the Big East championship this season after falling to No. 1 seeded St. John’s in the second round of last season’s tournament. With established players like Karamyshev and Petri Bere and skilled newcomers like Wright and Constantinou, Marshall said he is hopeful for the team to be a top finisher in the conference this spring.
UConn will look to continue its early success at the UConn Invitational this weekend. The developmental tournament will be held at the Huskies’ home courts in Storrs from Sept. 16-18 and will include Stony Brook University, Wesleyan University, Sacred Heart University, Bryant University and Army.