Tennis teams net third place in Big East

Head coach Gemma Alexander-Mozeak thought from the beginning of the spring season that it could be a special one for the St. John’s women’s tennis team, but it was realizing the expectations that made it a grind.

“It was a long season, especially when you go in feeling that we could really end this thing with very few losses and maybe some great wins,” Alexander-Mozeak said. “The pressure to realize what you think you know made it seem long.”

The wait was well worth it.

The Red Storm’s season included a nine-match winning streak that helped the team qualify for its first Big East Tournament appearance since 2001. The team finished third in the tourney for the first time since the 1989 season.

“I think it opened our eyes to see that we could compete with the Notre Dames of the tennis world.” junior Lauren Leo said.

“A year ago I don’t think we though we were at that level, but when we stepped on the court at this Big East tournament it opened up our eyes to see how good we are.”

While the team will have to say goodbye to seniors Allison Davidson, who lost just one singles match all season, Kristina Bothova and Hande Gorur, they will return key cogs juniors Barbora Blahutiakova and Leo.

Leo, a Staten Island native, was one of the big reasons the Red Storm, who opened the Big East tournament with a win over West Virginia, placing third.

In the second round Leo and freshman Marianna Chachua defeated Notre Dame’s No. 1 and nationally ranked doubles pair, but the Red Storm would still lose the match 4-0. Leo would also win the clinching singles match of St. John’s 4-0 win over No. 2 seeded Boston College in the consolation bracket.

The St. John’s men’s tennis team’s season ended the same as the women’s, a third place finish in the Big East, but they were hoping for more.

“Obviously Notre Dame is the best team in the tournament so we wanted to stay away from their side [of the bracket],” junior David Nylen said.

Added Nylen: “I’m pretty sure that if we would have been second seeded we would have reached the finals.”

Instead the fifth seeded Red Storm, after beating Georgetown in the first round, met the No.1 seeded Irish in the semifinals and fell 4-1.

During the match, Nylen won at No. 1 singles after he replaced sophomore star Louis Desmarteaux, who suffered a rotator cuff injury during his No. 1 doubles match and was forced to retire.

The Red Storm would finish third by beating Boston College 4-3.

“It’s always more fun to finish third than fourth,” Nylen said. “But after the match we could really make the claim that if we had been on the other side [of the bracket] we would have reached farther.”