Women’s Tennis Makes Strong Showing at Columbia Invitational

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For the first tournament of the pre-season, the St. Johns women’s tennis team made the short journey over to Columbia University to compete in the Columbia Invitational

Junior Nevena Selakovic was top performer for the Red Storm, advancing to the finals of the top-flight bracket as every player on the team advanced to the tournament’s final day.

Selakovic won three straight-set matches to reach the finals of the tournament’s top-singles flight.

Head coach Gemma Alexander-Mozeak said in regards to Selakovic that she is “clearly our number one,” despite not having as much experience in collegiate and Big East tennis as some of the other players on the team.

Selakovic began the tournament with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Penn’s Srinidhi Raghavan. She advanced to the semifinal round with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Fairfield’s fourth-seeded Monica Yajima, where she met up with her teammate, sophomore Diamond Adams.

Selakovic won 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the finals where she met up with the tournament’s top seed, Sol Eskenazi of Penn. Eskenazi defeated Selakovic 6-1, 6-2 to claim the title.

Senior Joanna Zwirbulis, the Red Storm’s number two player, also played in the tournament’s top flight. She lost to Columbia’s Katrina Kovacevic 6-2, 6-7 (3), 1-6, which knocked her to the consolation bracket. There, she rebounded by winning two matches, both against Hofstra players, to claim the consolation bracket title.

Freshman Lyubov Pogirbnyak won her opening match in flight “B” by defeating Hofstra’s Paige Polizois, 6-4, 6-0. She lost in the quarterfinals 6-0, 6-0 to the bracket’s top seed, Penn’s Alex Ion.

Also in flight “B,” seniors Nakita Austin and Ece Firat both reached the semifinals of the consolation bracket. Austin beat Hofstra’s Polizois 6-0, 6-1, and the other semifinal matchup was never played.

On the doubles side of the bracket, all three St. John’s duos lost their opening matches. However, Selakovic and Zwirbulis teamed up to reach the consolation finals. This run included an 8-4 victory over teammates Austin and Adams. The final round of the doubles consolation was also never played.

Alexander-Mozeak was pleased with her team’s performance.

“We’re pretty well on our way to where we need to be to make the (NCAA) tournament,” she said.

The Red Storm will return to play in the USTA Collegiate Invitational at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., from October 8-10.


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