Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Tennis: Women’s tennis back on a new campaign, set sights on the 2023 fall tournaments

The Owls are poised to build upon last season’s highs as they look ahead to the new 2023-2024 campaign
Gasner Delvarin, Jr.
Coach Ricardo Gonzalez in the far right enjoying a water break moment with the team on September 6, during training.

The Lady Owls concluded the previous season tumbling in their last four games, providing a bittersweet ending to their season. However, the Owls are looking forward to the 2023-2024 season, focusing on the present and the development of the players to reach their full potential. 

The team’s veterans completed their programs and graduated last season. Respectively playing on courts one and two, Martina Kudelova played a program-record 105 singles matches for the Owls, 22 more games than any other player in the program. She was named in the Second Team Conference USA selection in May to close her collegiate career. 

On the other hand, Katerina Filip contributed 33 wins in three years in singles with the program. 

With the departure of the two graduates, the current roster presents seven players, including newcomer Panna Bartha, a freshman from Hungary. She brings her skills and depth to the line-up as an experienced participant at the 2022 Wimbledon. Bartha reached the junior ranking career-high 84 in the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and currently stands at 85 since the last update. 

Bartha joins junior Millie-Mae Matthews, who posted a 14-10 singles mark last season, and freshman Victoria Gomez O’Hayon, who finished with 10-10 singles by only joining the flock this January. She will also be surrounded by other returning Owls: sophomore Carla Galmiche, redshirt junior Amber McGinnis, sophomore Maya Shanok, and junior Lexi Silna. 

The Owls have been preparing for the new Fall tournaments and bonding in the spirit to move forward as a collective unit to attain their highest objectives. They had an opportunity to train and draw inspiration this Thursday from one of the top high-ranking players, Marie Bouzková, who currently stands at 30 in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), before heading out on the road.

“Our main goal right now is to stay focused in the present…Honestly, having a great group of girls where they’re working hard every day, I’m super pleased with how we’re coming along,” said head coach Ricardo Gonzalez. 

While the coaching staff have created a joyful environment for their players to train, the team seems ready and excited to take their games to the upcoming ITF Fall Tournament scheduled for the end of September, as their focus remains locked in at the moment and as a priority for Gonzalez.

“Obviously, we always want to get out there and win. You have the biggest stages, but the reality is we just need to stay focused on what we’re doing. If each individual keeps doing what they’re doing, the result will take care of itself as long as they’re fighting and competing hard. I’ll be pleased with that,” Gonzalez said.

The Lady Owls have much more reason to focus on their games this season than prior, as now they have a shot to transitioning as a wildcard to enter a pro-tournament, per the new ITF College Accelerator Programme. 

It is a groundbreaking initiative that paves the way for U.S. college athletes to have a chance to compete at the ITF World Tennis Tour (WTT) Women’s, through a collaborative effort with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and the WTA. 

“I think it’s great,” Coach Gonzalez stated. “I think this is a big part of what tennis college is. It’s getting better and better because of these opportunities. I think it’s great that the best players in the country, collegiate, are able to get some wildcards and future opportunities for professional trainers.”

This effort by the ITF already saw last season’s top 5 ranking in the NCAA Division benefit from it. One of the players was Fiona Crawley from the University of North Carolina, who held the No. 1 spot in NCAA Division 1 but lacked a WTA ranking as recently as April 2023, earned a wildcard entry into the U.S. Open women’s singles qualifying draw from the USTA. She seized this opportunity to defeat opponents such as Reka Luca Jani, former world No. 25 Timea Babos, and the No. 13 seed in qualifying, Kimberly Birrell. This impressive performance led to her debut in the U.S. Open main draw and a current WTA ranking 552.

Nevertheless, her effort did not come without controversy when she had to forfeit $81K due to the NCAA rules that she is a collegiate athlete. 

The ITF Fall Tournament begins September 24 in Hilton Head, S.C., and the FAU Women’s Tennis team will be on the road to start their endeavor.

Gasner Delvarin Jr. is a staff writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM via Instagram at gdeljr.

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