Women’s Tennis Wraps Up Fall Season



Freshman Camila Ordonez was a four-star recruit out of high school and made an immediate impact for the Red Storm this fall.

Racquets lay unused and balls remain sealed until the winter weather subsides. So begins the hibernation.

Women’s tennis wrapped up the early portion of its schedule earlier this month. Now comes a three-month hiatus until dual match play starts in the spring season. 

“The main focus of the fall season is to test the players in competitive settings,” Coach Lauren Leo said. “This is an effective way to see what we need to work on in practice and continue the players’ development in preparation for the upcoming spring season.”

Fall is split into two fronts. While the ITA hosts events for the best individual players from a year ago, teams compete in the invitational circuit. 

St. John’s started close to home. First up was a trip to the Dick Savitt Tennis Center for the Columbia Invitational in September. 

Four-star recruit Camila Ordonez highlighted the weekend. The freshman lost her first match, but bounced back with a pair of wins in the consolation bracket. She finished 4-6 in her first crack at the collegiate level.

Graduation left open doubles pairings. Olaya Inclan Solis and Delia Arranz departed after playing the second and third slots for most of last season. Ordonez vied for a chance in the spring with partner Milka Genkova. The duo went 4-4 in the fall, including an undefeated weekend at the Penn Invitational in October.

“The pairing of Milka and Camila as a doubles team has had a good showing this fall,” Leo said.  “It is definitely a possibility for the spring.”

Genkova battled through a lost 2018-19 season. Injury limited her to just one fall match and no action in the spring. In her first extended look at St. John’s, the senior finished with a flourish. She won the last three matches of her fall season at the Big Green Invitational.

Missing from most of the fall team schedule was senior superstar Jessica Livianu. The three-time defending Big East Player of the Year was busy representing the conference at singles tournaments across the country.

“The high competition is a great opportunity for Jessica to sharpen her skills and prepare for the competition that she [faces] at the number-one position,” Leo said. 

She earned her place in the Oracle ITA Masters by means of her conference recognition. No Big East player has advanced as far in the tournament as she did in 2017, reaching the quarterfinals before losing in straight sets. 

Returning conference players of the year filled spots in the Malibu tournament. Remaining slots went in order of UTR rating. It’s a showcase of the nation’s best, and Livianu has won at least one match in each of her three appearances.

Ava Thielman from Oakland was her draw in the first round. Livianu made quick work of the junior, but would go no farther. She fell 6-1, 6-3 to North Carolina junior and NCAA Singles Championship quarterfinalist Sara Daavettila in the Round of 16.

Back in action a week later, she faced an uphill climb just to get into the main draw. Livianu participated in the ITA All-American Championships in Tulsa for the first time in her career, but needed five wins in the pre-qualifying and then the qualifying draws to sneak her way into the main event.

After an advantageous first round forfeiture, Livianu caught fire. She won once more on Saturday and once each on Sunday and Monday, sweeping in straight sets along the way. Brianna Shvets finally proved her match in the final round of the qualifying draw. The Princeton product ended Livianu’s fall season on a 6-3, 6-3 mark, but the senior knows the chance for championships will come again in the spring. 

“I’m very proud of what I have accomplished up to now in my college career, but I’m even more excited to accomplish more in the upcoming season,” Livianu said. “I am blessed to have this opportunity.”