When the Elon University women’s tennis team plays a home match at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center, the sound of Elon players cheering on their teammates across the courts is always present, according to junior Sibel Tanik.
Whether reacting to an important shot or chanting to motivate a struggling player, Tanik said players try to be as vocal as possible on the court to show support for their teammates and psyche out their opponents.
“We’re all out there having our little battles, but it’s a huge war,” Tanik said. “It helps your teammate. It helps you because sometimes I’ll lose a point and instead of getting mad, I’ll yell, ‘Let’s go, Elon,’ and then it releases something.”
With eight players, women’s tennis has the smallest roster of Elon’s varsity teams. Six players returned to the team from last season. Head coach Elizabeth Anderson said both the small roster and continuity have proved beneficial for the team this season.
“That’s helped a lot because they already knew each other and have that chemistry,” Anderson said. “They are very hungry and driven. They want to do well for themselves, for team and school.”
Swinging into spring
Ten matches into its spring season, Elon holds a 7-3 record and has won seven of its last eight matches. Tanik attributed the recent success to the team’s focus and depth.
“We are just such a deep team,” Tanik said. “This team has done so well of locking into their particular match and not worrying about where they are on the lineup or who they’re playing against.”
After playing in the number two singles position for most of last season, Tanik has transitioned to be the team’s number one singles player this season. Tanik holds a 4-2 singles record this season and earned her first Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week Award for her performance against Richmond University on Jan. 28. She said the accolade has inspired her to continue her strong play the rest of the season.
“Once you get a little taste of a good win, you just get kind of hungry and you’re like, ‘Wow, I want more,’” Tanik said.
Anderson said Tanik is a great leader and believes she has developed a more positive attitude on the court this season, which has helped her mentally in close matches.
“She’s just very upbeat and into the team aspect,” Anderson said. “She wants her teammates to do really well, works really hard and comes out with a lot of energy.”
After using nine different doubles combinations last season, Elon has kept the same three doubles pairs for all of its matches this season. Tanik has played all her doubles matches with sophomore Lizette Reding and said the continuity of the pairings has helped bolster team chemistry.
“It gives you the chance to bond, get closer and then figure out certain patterns and plays that work best for your team,” Tanik said.
Home court advantage
For the first time since 2019, Elon University will host the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament at the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center. The tournament will begin on April 28 and finish on May 1.
For Anderson, the focus for the rest of the regular season is building momentum for the tournament.
“We just want to be playing our best tennis when the conference tournament comes,” Anderson said. “Even though we’ve had some really good matches, we’ve had some tougher matches. Those tougher matches are building us to become better for the tournament.”
Tanik said she is excited to be able to play the tournament in front of her friends and family and hopes the home crowds will help propel the team to its first conference title since joining the CAA.
“Having home court advantage is just an unreal feeling,” Tanik said. “We’re all really excited to go out and compete and defend the house.”
Elon will travel to play its next two matches against North Carolina State University and Davidson College on March 5 and 6. The next home match at Jimmy Powell Tennis Center will be against North Carolina Central University on March 11.