Game, Set, Match: New Paltz Tennis Undefeated

Photo Courtesy of SUNY New Paltz Athletic Communications Office
Justine Stanejko, the 2023 Peter J. Cahill MVP Award recipient.

Women’s tennis at SUNY New Paltz dominated the courts this season. They sported an impressive 7-0 conference record and were 7-2 overall, and this is the sixth year in a row the team has been undefeated in regular season SUNYAC play — a new program record. Once again, the team has secured the No. 1 seed for the SUNYAC tournament in the spring. They will be working in the winter off-season and early spring in an effort to win the SUNYAC championship to be back-to-back SUNYAC champions. 

Coached by Rob Bruley, the team has been able to dominate SUNYAC play this season after coming off a successful campaign last year, where the Hawks went 13-5 and brought home the SUNYAC title. After having their 2020-2021 campaign shortened due to COVID-19, their 2022-2023 season was one to be proud of. The team was victorious over the Oneonta Red Dragons in the SUNYAC finals, shutting them out 5-0, and punching their ticket into the NCAA tournament. After shutting out St. Mary’s College of Maryland, they fell to No. 7 nationally ranked Amherst College. Despite the loss, it was a historic effort, as it was the third time in program history the Hawks moved into the second round of the tournament. They continued that positive momentum into this fall, and the Hawks have been playing a close to identical season as the last. 

This season marks Bruley’s 25th season as the head coach of the program, which includes an impressive 21 SUNYAC tournament appearances, with six NCAA tournament appearances. In his time here, he has also won eight SUNYAC championship titles and nine SUNYAC Coach of the Year awards. He has led teams throughout the program to first or second in the SUNYAC championship for 21 years straight and coached eight athletes who have received the Peter J. Cahill MVP Award, which is the highest honor a player can receive in the SUNYAC conference. 

They returned seven players this season, including the Peter J. Cahill MVP Award and Rookie of the Year Justine Stanejko, a sophomore who was undefeated last year in SUNYAC singles and doubles with her partner senior captain Loretta Donovan. Stanejko was also named to the all-SUNYAC singles first team and SUNYAC championship singles all-tournament team, while Donovan was given all-SUNYAC singles second team honors. Both Donovan and Stanejko are undefeated in SUNYAC singles and doubles play this fall. They were able to build off their success from last season, as the duo was named SUNYAC doubles team of the year in their 2022-2023 campaign. 

Also returning are captains Tatiana Barnett and Onalee Batcheller. Barnett, fourth-year, is also undefeated in SUNYAC singles play this year. She won out in doubles play as well, both with her usual partner second-year Nina Genzone, and beat Cortland with Batcheller. Batcheller returned this season for her graduate year, coming off earning all-SUNYAC singles First Team and all-SUNYAC doubles Second Team honors with Barnett. She is undefeated in SUNYAC singles both this season and last. 

They added four first-year students to the lineup as well: Olivia Eifert, Laina Martinez, Alyssa Trokie and Olivia Kunz, who show a promising future for the program. Kunz is also undefeated in SUNYAC singles play, the only freshman to do so this season. 

This year, they have defeated every SUNYAC competitor and won 9-0 against four of them. Despite two straight losses against non-conference competitors RPI and Skidmore early on in the season, the Hawks have seen success ever since. The regular duos of Stanejko and Donovan, Batcheller and junior Isabel van der Veen, and Genzone and Barnett have dominated the doubles competition. All around, the team has seen success in singles play, with players rarely losing individual matches. 

The team will return to play in the spring, where they will face numerous non-conference matchups, including Stevens, TCNJ and RIT. Entering the SUNYAC tournament, they will face the fourth-seeded Oneonta Red Dragons in the semi-finals. Whoever wins that match will advance to the SUNYAC championships, facing the winner of the Cortland versus Geneseo matchup. The team is looking to take home the SUNYAC championship. It would be their second consecutive title and their fifth appearance in six years. 

The Hawks will enter into their winter off-season for the next few months but will return in the spring for their “Spring Break Trip” on Mar. 25 in Orlando. Their matchups are to be determined.