In her record breaking day, Olivia Archer set foot on court No. 6 of the Jimmy Powell Tennis Center to start her match against her opponent.
Archer had been keeping a close eye on the all-time career singles wins record set by Frida Jansaker ’14 almost a decade ago. Jansaker was a part of the Elon University women’s tennis team from 2011-14 after joining the team from Sweden.
Leading up to the historic day, Archer realized just how close she was to breaking the record. Although tennis is a balancing act of both team and individual play, Archer is no different from any other athlete. She sets her own personal goals for herself and she was ready to check the box off for one that she had her sights set on for a long time.
“Nerves just come in and all of these ideas of, ‘I'm not sure if I can do it, I'm just tight,’ and that sort of thing,” Archer said. “Then I ended up pulling it out. There were fire trucks going by, it was about to rain, but I just told myself, I was going to do it and it was going to be this day,”
Archer won her match that day on March 31 with scores of 6-0 and a close finish of 7-5. This accomplishment comes near the end of an astonishing five year career as a member of the Elon University women’s tennis team. Her 69th win cemented Archer’s name in the program’s history as the all-time singles win record holder. After three more regular season matches, Archer gained two more victories and now sits comfortably atop the Elon record books at 71 all-time singles wins.
Where it all began
Archer’s journey at Elon began with her visiting the campus during high school. After watching a few matches and expressing interest in the program, head coach Elizabeth Anderson had the opportunity to watch her play. Anderson said she immediately saw Archer’s leadership, work ethic and drive.
“We saw somebody that was just very hungry to continue to get better,” Anderson said.
Archer was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association second team for singles, won the team heart and hustle award and was named to the CAA commissioner's academic honor roll all in her first year in the program.
After a successful freshman showing, Archer was one of the many athletes affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in her second year. Archer looked at the bright side of the abrupt stop: She gained an extra year of eligibility to play tennis. This gave her options to consider such as attending graduate school, playing for another year and if she wanted to stay at Elon. She ended up choosing the Phoenix and is now taking classes in the iMedia graduate program as a fifth-year student.
“It didn't really feel like a choice to me,” Archer said. “It just seemed like Elon was the place that I was supposed to be at.”
Senior Shauna Galvin has been teammates with Archer for four years. The two will now complete their careers and graduate from Elon together.
“I was really excited for another year with her and obviously with her on the team,” Galvin said. “She has something that you can't replace, and I think that that's evident in Elon’s tennis success in the past five years that she's been a part of.”
Galvin said she remembers when Archer hosted her when she first visited Elon and has since followed her captain's footsteps.
“Our slogan is ‘be the one,’” Galvin said. “Be the one to make a difference on the team. Be the one to put your point on the board. Be the one to stay out there all day. Be the one to help the team.”
Archer has grown to become a leader both on and off the court by learning from her past teammates’ examples along with setting high standards for herself.
“Coach and the other girls really helped me develop my own voice and I tried to act as a leader not necessarily vocally, but always through example,” Archer said.
Anderson said she appreciates the poise that Archer has shown over her career and is proud of her accomplishments.
“To see the character that she showed and displayed in those tougher moments, and was just all about the team and all about wanting to get back and to be able to compete and all those things — it's been a great five years having her,” Anderson said. “There’s things that she’s had to battle through, but to see how much she's accomplished, in spite of all of this adversity, I think has been very admirable.”
Remembering the day
On her monumental day, Archer shouted out the point for Elon and was immediately greeted by her teammates. The first person to hug her was none other than Galvin.
“I'll always remember just running over to her after she won and just being so excited,” Galvin said. “It was one of my favorite days at Elon with her breaking the record. I think that is a testament to our friendship and what she means to me personally because there's no one more deserving than Liv.”
Archer’s preparation starts the night before the match. Emphasis is placed on the importance of hydration, eating healthy and getting enough sleep. As she prepares to take the court on match day with her dedicated song “Tie Me Down" by Gryffin and Elley Duhé playing, she calms her nerves and lets the excitement take over.
“We try to hype each other up, really get locked in for the game day,” Archer said. “If it's a home match, we all put on our little tattoos, and then we warm up and we just try to pull energy from anywhere and everywhere possible.”
Anderson notes Archer’s dedication to the sport and preparation as a large part of her success.
“It's more about the process, it's more about competing and continuing to get better,” Anderson said. “When you're doing those things then it enables you to get awards or reach records or to do those things but keeping the focus on gameplay will get better there.”
Anderson and the team had the opportunity to celebrate Archer after the match by presenting her with a poster and giving a speech to recognize the milestone.
“I think it says a lot about the team that with individual successes, you see them get as excited about that for their teammates as if it was themselves or those sorts of things,” Anderson said. “I think that says a lot about the team in general and how much they care about each other.”
Archer said she works hard to be supportive of the women around her and be a team player, no matter the role.
“I just want to be the best version of myself that I can be and just be the best hitting partner or be somebody that the girls feel like they can come to with their issues,” Archer said. “I just need to be a very well-rounded person.”
Archer said she said she balances on the line between the individual and team aspect of sports.
“As much as tennis is a win loss oriented sport, just like all sports are, I think there should be an honorable mention to people being the best versions of themselves and competing and just trying to be the fiercest and having a strong mindset,” Archer said. “I think that's one of the most important things about sports.”