Women’s tennis will enter the Atlantic 10 Championship in Florida Wednesday seeking its first championship title in 26 years.
The Colonials (11–9, 5–2 A-10) have fallen short of conference glory in recent years, advancing to the semifinal round of the championship four times and the final once in the last decade, but returning empty-handed. Head coach Torrie Browning said the team needs to carry the momentum from its recent season wins to be successful heading into the conference.
“We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are a team full of experienced players – even our freshmen have come in with a lot of tournaments under their belt,” Browning said. “They’ve played a lot of tennis, so we are an experienced team No. 1, I think that gives them a lot of confidence.”
GW went on a five-game win streak to finish off its regular season last year, earning a No. 2 seeding in the A-10 Championship – its highest in program history. The Colonials defeated No. 7 Dayton 4–0 in the championship before losing to No. 6 Massachusetts 4–2 in the semifinal round.
Three seniors comprise nearly half of GW’s roster and all were part of last season’s record-breaking team. Browning said she can rely on her seniors to provide leadership and direction to the team’s two freshman players who have not yet seen postseason action.
“Championship conference tournament atmosphere can be a lot sometimes,” Browning said. “I’m going to be relying on them too. Half of our teams are seniors, so I think we are going to be good to go. They have been doing a really good job of leading the team, leading themselves, in the right way.”
GW has been chasing an A-10 Championship title for more than two decades after winning back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993. The Colonials placed second five times over the past 25 years – since they last won – but have yet to secure the title.
The squad has qualified for the championship final nine times in its program history. GW last made it to the A-10 finals in 2010, but a sweep from Richmond ended its best bid for a title.
Senior Maria Siopacha said the team is strong in singles but needs to improve on its doubles play, which she said was a seasonlong weakness for the team.
“It’s really important to win the doubles game,” she said. “If we can fight really hard and win that one doubles point, I think it will really help.”
The Colonials have an overall doubles record of 31–42 this season, down from the 2017-18 regular season record of 43-46. Siopacha said the team’s relatively small size prevents it from experimenting with different doubles combinations during practice.
“In order to be good in doubles, you need to have chemistry with your doubles partner,” Siopacha said. “Because we are such a small team, we did not have many opportunities to try different pairs, so it is difficult to find the pairs that are working really good together.”
The Colonials’ most successful doubles players are Siopacha and junior Melis Bayraktaroglu, who each have 14 doubles wins under their belt. Siopacha and Bayraktaroglu hold a 2–2 postseason doubles record over three years at GW.
Senior Sara Grubac said the team’s international makeup could also cause it to struggle with doubles play because doubles are not commonly practiced abroad. Each member of the squad hails from a different country, with senior Victoria Kogan being the sole American on the Colonials’ roster.
“Doubles are not as big in Europe and we’re mostly international, so we don’t really have that much experience,” Grubac said.
Browning said her team’s roster depth means that “anyone, on any given day, can beat anyone.” She added that her relatively small team is close-knit, adding a source of strength for the squad.
“We just have to keep reminding them to be confident, be aggressive, be assertive, and if we do those things, then it’s going to be a good week,” Browning said.
A-10 Championship play kicks off Wednesday at the USTA National Campus in Florida.