The No. 3 Elon University women’s tennis team took an early exit from the Colonial Athletic Association Women’s Tennis Tournament after losing 4-1 in the semifinals to No. 2 College of Charleston in Williamsburg, Virginia.
“In the end, it didn’t work out,” senior Barbora Lazarova said. “I’m still so proud of everyone and everyone left it all on the court. Ultimately that’s all that matters.”
The Phoenix fell behind early, losing the doubles point with losses at the top two positions. College of Charleston then carried its momentum into singles action, winning at the No. 5, No. 6 and No. 1 positions to take the match.
Lazarova earned Elon’s only point on the day with a win at No. 3 singles. The 6-2, 6-4 straight sets victory was Lazarova’s last match donning the maroon and gold, and she hoped the team would make a comeback. The thought of losing did not enter her mind.
“I was thinking it was not going to be my last match and [we’d] still have a couple more, hopefully,” she said. “You want to do the best for your teammates. You want to win for them. You want to win so we can keep going and make everyone else proud.”
The Bratislava, Slovakia, native went an impressive 14-7 in the spring of her senior campaign, including a pair of wins in this season’s conference tournament.
“I always get really excited for the tournament, especially the end,” she said. “That’s where it all comes down to and what we’ve been working toward our whole entire year.”
Head coach Elizabeth Anderson said a slow start may have left the Phoenix with too much ground to make up.
“We definitely could have started quicker,” Anderson said. “We could have elevated our games a little bit faster.”
Anderson said she was proud of her team’s performance over the weekend and across the entire season despite the disappointing ending.
“We accomplished a lot this year, and we have to put everything in perspective,” she said.
The Phoenix was quite young with six freshmen on the roster — five of them earned significant playing time. This season, Elon freshmen accounted for about 60 percent of the team’s total wins by capturing 48 of the team’s 82 singles victories.
Freshman Erica Braschi was second on the team in singles victories with 12 wins and went 15-1 with her partner junior Taylor Casey at No. 3 doubles.
Freshman Kamilla Beisenova also recorded double-digit singles victories by going 10-6 on the season. Half of those victories came from the No. 5 position.
With so many matches under their belt from the start of their careers, the freshmen had plenty of experience entering the conference tournament hosted by College of William & Mary.
The Phoenix blanked Towson University 4-0 in the quarterfinals, and freshmen were responsible for three out of the four points.
The Phoenix swept the doubles portion of the match, in which Braschi earned another win with Casey at No. 3 doubles and Elon freshmen Olivia Lucas and Bridget Liddell defeated Towson senior Ayana Dow and freshman Lucy Williams 8-4 at No. 2 doubles. In singles play, Braschi and Ward picked up wins at No. 4 and No. 1 singles, respectively.
While the freshmen shined against Towson, Lazarova said the team’s youth was a disadvantage against College of Charleston.
“I think [losing] came down to the fact [that] we are a team of mostly freshmen,” Lazarova said. “Charleston was way more experienced than we were.”
The loss meant the Phoenix was unable to avenge an earlier loss to the Cougars this season. On April 10, they overcame a 3-1 deficit to deliver a 4-3 loss to Elon at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center.
College of Charleston led by the same score during the rematch but didn’t make the same mistake as Elon did eight days earlier. Senior Samantha Maddox edged freshman Kirsten Ward at the No. 1 position 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 to end Elon’s season.
Lazarova said the conference tournament will provide some of the young Phoenix players with insight going into the next season.
“They’ve never faced something like this before,” she said. “They have a lot to learn from this tournament.”
According to Anderson, experience from all of this season’s matches will motivate the team to succeed next season.
“Now that they have a little bit more experience I think we’re only going to be better in the future,” Anderson said.
Next year, Casey will be given the task of leading the young, more experienced Elon squad. The Duluth, Georgia, native went 11-6 in her junior season. Anderson thinks Casey can provide the needed leadership to younger players next year.
“She’s one of our hardest workers,” Anderson said. “She’s been working a lot and we’ve been talking to her more this year about leadership and I think when it comes to next year, we’ll continue to see her grow in that role.”
Elon wraps up its season with a 15-8 overall record and finishes above .500 for its sixth consecutive season.