Drexel women’s tennis started an exciting season with two wins over Seton Hall and La Salle. The ladies kicked off their season on March 12 at the Drexel’s Vidas courts. The team’s three previous matches against Army, Villanova and Temple were postponed due to rain and COVID-19 precautions. The Dragons had a close 4-3 win over Seton Hall, followed by a 7-0 sweep over La Salle. These impressive results reflect the pre-season training the ladies team has undergone and the preparation they have put into this delayed season.
Friday, March 12 at 1 p.m. saw the long-awaited opening match of the women’s tennis season at Drexel. Like most college sports, the team has faced many setbacks during the pandemic and they have been training hard in tough conditions for their return. Play began with the doubles matches, with a clean sweep of three Dragon victories. Drexel’s Salma Ziouti and Sarka Richterova beat Arina Gumerova and Minja Gligic 6-3 at the one seed. At the two seed, Cristina Corte Gonzalez and Tara Veluvolu won 6-4 over Aina Plana Ventosa and Hiba El Khalifi of the Pirates. Finally, Marta Martinez and Pauline Kharkover defeated Emily O’Donovan and Oliwia Kempinski 6-4.
Next up in the singles tournament, Salma Ziouti, Sarka Richterova and Pauline Kharkover all won their matches to secure the vital four points for the Dragons to take their win. At the number one spot, Moroccan player Salma Ziouti swept her opponent, Arina Gumerova, with a score of 7-5, 6-2. At the two seed, Sarka Richterova, originally from Czech Republic, also won her match 6-3, 6-1. Cristina Corte Gonzalez and Marta Martinez, both from Spain, suffered losses at the number three and four seeds for Drexel. The final and crucial win for the Dragons came from Pauline Kharkover, who won a thrilling 7-6 (8), 6-4 match against Emily O’Donovan. The Dragons walked away triumphant from their opening match of the season, ready for the following match against La Salle.
Over a week after their first match, on March 25, the Dragons were ready to go against La Salle, once again with the benefit of playing at home in the Vidas bubble. The doubles matches boasted two wins for Drexel. Spanish duo Cristina Corte Gonzalez and Isabel Cabrerizo beat Lauren Landstrom and Isa Leano 6-2. Marta Martinez and Pauline Kharkover cemented the Dragons’ doubles victories with a 6-4 win over Jazmin Walle and Aleks Nikolic of La Salle.
The singles tournament saw yet another clean sweep for Drexel’s women. Spanish junior Cristina Corte Gonzalez confidently beat La Salle’s Isa Leano 6-1, 6-2. Freshman Isabel Cabrerizo, also from Spain, defeated Lauren Landstrom 6-1, 4-1 in her Dragon debut. Junior Tara Veluvolu thrashed Jazmin Walle 6-1, 6-1 in a confident display. Sophomore Aida Garcia Mendez from Mexico made her mark in her Drexel debut with a sweeping 6-0, 6-0 victory over Aleks Nikolic. Both new players for the Dragons won their debut matches. Both Marta Martinez and Pauline Kharkover automatically won their matches due to a lack of players at La Salle. The Dragons finished with a 7-0 victory over La Salle and a 2-0 record for the season.
In other positive news for the Dragons, Salma Ziouti and Sarka Richterovawere named the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Tennis Doubles Team of the Week for the week beginning March 15. Unfortunately, the women’s upcoming matches against Temple and Saint Joseph’s were postponed and canceled, but we can hope to see the Dragons back in action on April 2 against Towson, and then again against Temple on April 3, scheduled to be played on the Vidas courts.