WFUV's Alicia Montanaro sits down with the senior tennis player from Florida.
WFUV’s Alicia Montanaro sat down and talked with Fordham Women’s Tennis senior Hanna Fritzinger. They discussed Hanna’s road to Fordham, the evolution of the tennis program over the last four years, what is next for her and other topics.
WFUV: Why did you choose to play at Fordham?
Hanna: I was recruited to play here on a scholarship, when I got a letter in the mail saying come to Fordham. I didn’t even know what the school was. I was in Florida, so I did not really want to come here. But, I came on a recruiting trip and I fell in love with it. I loved the school, I loved the area and that was that. I liked that Fordham was really strong academically and not just solely with sports.
WFUV: When did you first start playing tennis?
Hanna: I have played tennis since I was two years old.
WFUV: When did you first realize you had the chance to play tennis at a collegiate level?
Hanna: When you are a teen in a competitive tennis environment, you either realize that you want to go pro or play in college. It’s really hard to go pro though; that means being homeschooled, taking all of your time to play. That’s not something I wanted to do because I care a lot about my education. I decided early on that a college scholarship would be my goal.
WFUV: What do you do to get to Fordham on a tennis scholarship?
Hanna: There are all kinds of tournaments that you can play for USTA (United States Tennis Association). Then you get a ranking and that is kind of how colleges find you. High school tennis isn’t very big; you don’t get recruited through your high school sport, which is kind of different from some other sports. I also trained at a tennis academy, so coaches would come to that academy and look at the students there. But, I think I was more recruited based on my ranking and off of certain websites that rate all of your matches with an amount of stars.
WFUV: Being from Florida, has it been a difficult transition living here for the past few years?
Hanna: Yes. My first winter here was interesting. I remember, before Christmas break my freshman year it hadn’t really snowed yet. Then I came back and it was ice and snow. I think I came back a Sunday night from break and then Monday morning we had practice at 7 AM. I walked out of my dorm and I just fell. I just wiped out. I thought ‘This looks like a sidewalk, why am I falling?’ I didn’t know what black ice was. So, it has definitely been a transition. You can’t do everything outside year round (in New York), which I don’t love. I never even played tennis indoors until I came here and the majority of our season is indoors. It’s been a change. Winter is definitely not my favorite.
WFUV: How do you think it affects you and the team, not being able to play/practice outdoors until the beginning of April?
Hanna: It definitely impacts us, especially because the few times we had matches outdoors, it was so windy. It was insane; it was cold and kind of miserable. Honestly, indoor tennis and outdoor tennis are not even the same sport. They are, but they aren’t. You have so many elements—the ball is flying everywhere. You have to play a different style of game. So, I think that not being able to practice that was really hard. But the other thing is that it was a level playing field with the other teams in the area that we played against. No one could play outdoors.
WFUV: I noticed you and Anika Novacek both come from Boca Raton, Florida. Did you two know each other before coming to Fordham?
Hanna: Yes, we’ve known each other since we were little. She trained at the same academy that I did for a few years.
WFUV: How has that dynamic been?
Hanna: She was at Syracuse and then transferred here. So when she was in that transferring process, I think knowing someone here definitely helped her. We knew each other when we were so little, so it was kind of about learning about each other all over again.
WFUV: How has the tennis program evolved since you first started at Fordham?
Hanna: When I came here, it was coach (Bette-Ann Speliotis Liguori)’s first recruiting year. There were basically only three girls on the team who were competitive tennis players and the rest were kind of more recreational. The program wasn’t very serious at all. But over the past four years she has recruited consistently. Now, we are a total team based on her recruits. I came in and was one of the best on the team and I’m leaving as one of the weaker players, which is actually kind of really cool. It just shows how in time as we have gotten more wins, how people are starting to become more interested in coming here. Coach is now able to recruit better players.
WFUV: The team consists entirely of upperclassmen, besides one freshman. What’s it been like to play with the same group of girls the last couple of years?
Hanna: You get close with the people on your team. It’s a team of eight people, so it’s little. It’s not like you can have cliques within your team. We are all together, all the time. It’s been nice that some of these people I’ve been friends with have been able to have a relationship for a long time.
WFUV: After just coming off a loss in the A-10 Tournament, what are your thoughts about the season as whole?
Hanna: I think it was a good season, but also kind of a transitional one. Last year there was no pressure really, it was kind of like ‘lets see what we can do’ and we did so well. Then this year, the pressure was on. I think that was a little bit hard for some of the girls to realize that the expectations were there and they had to perform. But, our loss in the A-10 tournament was actually a good one. We lost 4-0 to the number one seed in the conference (VCU), but they stopped the match. The other three matches were incredibly close; we were winning in a few of them. So I think that at the end of the season we got better and hopefully the team will carry that over into next year.
WFUV: What has been your favorite moment on the court at Fordham?
Hanna: We’ve had some matches that were really close. I remember once against UMass, I was in a third set tiebreaker and I ended up beating the girl. But, that was the deciding match. My Mom was here—she came up from Florida for that match—so I think that was probably my favorite memory.
WFUV: Have there been any road trips that have been extra memorable to you?
Hanna: I think any trip we go on together ends up being fun, since we’re kind of a goofy, weird bunch. Also this year, I’ve kind of especially appreciated the trips even more.
WFUV: How was your tournament in Florida this year?
Hanna: “That was our Spring Break. So that was good, because we got to play outdoors for that week.”
WFUV: What was it like for you going home and playing (in the Florida tournament)?
Hanna: It was really nice. Orlando is unfortunately 3 and a half hours north from where I live, so was kind of bittersweet because I was so close to home, but I didn’t get to go home. But having my family come, watch my matches and all going to dinner together was so nice because I don’t get to do that a lot.
WFUV: What kind of mark would you like to personally leave on the tennis program?
Hanna: I think the best thing I could have given the team was coaching. I had wrist surgery this year, so for the first seven months of the year I wasn’t even playing at all. So, I was on the court with them, coaching them. I just hope if anything, I’ve given them some kind of confidence that they can now take into the next year. But, I think Coach Bette-Ann is doing a really good job with recruiting and that the program is going to continue to move into a new level.
WFUV: What do you think the program is capable of doing in the future?
Hanna: One thing to consider is the amount of women’s tennis scholarships that were here when I got here. I think it was three or four—so they were divided up among people. Now, it’s a fully funded team. With that being said, there is so much potential for recruiting, which means there is so much potential for the team. I think that they could win an A-10 championship. With that though comes pressure, a different level of practice and discipline that we haven’t really had yet. Our coach has been here for four years, that is not that long. She was starting with a team, basically from scratch. But, I do think that they can win A10s, I think they can do great things. I just think that will require more than just recruiting. It would require changes in practices and like I said, just routines in general.
WFUV: What are your plans after graduation? Do you plan on continuing to play tennis at a competitive level?
Hanna: I’m applying for jobs right now. Realistically, I won’t try to take this further at a pro level. But, I will always play tennis. I will always have that as a part of my life.