On May 1, the women’s tennis team squared off against Middlebury College in its final regular season match of the season. Bowdoin lost 6-3 to Middlebury, who went on to finish second in the NESCAC. Despite the team loss, Fleming Landau won both her singles and doubles matches and earned the International Tennis Association’s Division III player of the week award.
Landau played the final match of her Bowdoin tennis career on May 6, when the team lost to Tufts in the first round of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tournament, securing a singles victory with a score of 6-2, 6-2.
“It’s pretty crazy to think my tennis career is over. I started playing tennis when I was five, so I’ve been playing for seventeen years,” Landau said. “[There have been] a lot of ups and downs [but] there’s no better feeling, I think, than competing with your best friends and Bowdoin on your back. I’m going to miss that feeling a lot.”
Landau’s father grew up playing tennis competitively, which inspired Landau to play. She was drawn to Bowdoin by the opportunity to compete for a national championship—a dream of hers since high school.
When Landau arrived on campus, she was one of four first-year recruits joining the women’s tennis team. However, she felt a lack of support from her coach and older teammates. Despite this, she went undefeated in singles matches during the spring season of her first year.
Landau pointed to one particular moment from her first year as a highlight of her tennis career. The team was facing Amherst, whom it had not beaten in thirteen years.
“It was down to me. I was in the third set, playing against another freshman on the Amherst team, and I just remember looking out and having all my teammates cheering me on. I ended up winning and clinching the match to give us the win 5-4 against Amherst and beat them for the first time in thirteen years,” Landau said.
Landau missed out on her sophomore and junior seasons due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, of the three other recruits in Landau’s class, one quit the team and the other two transferred, making her the only senior on the team this season.
Because of her struggles with the team’s culture during her first year, Landau set out to foster a welcoming and inclusive team environment.
“I honestly thought back to my [first] year and some of the things I wish could’ve been different,” Landau said. “I wanted to give the [first-years] the best possible experience—and sophomores since it was their first year on the team, too. So I really tried to make sure everyone felt supported and included, just to make sure everyone felt their success mattered.”
This season was also the first full season for Head Coach Ben Lamanna. With Lamanna at the helm and the rest of the team returning next year, Landau feels the women’s tennis program has a bright future.
“I’m so excited to see the great things that this program is going to accomplish in the future. All of the girls this year are some of the hardest workers I know and play with a ton of grit,” Landau said.
Although Landau’s tennis career is over, she emphasized that her friendships with her teammates will endure.
“I’m so happy I stuck with tennis because this year with the new team and coach has been the best year of my life and the greatest reward tennis has given me! The girls are my best friends and I can’t even imagine life without them,” Landau said.