Women’s tennis takes on D1 team

The women’s tennis team competed with a formidable challenger, playing the Division I Elon University

Elly Cosgrove

The Washington and Lee women’s tennis team proved just how competitive Division III tennis has become in their match against Elon University.

On March 11, the Top 20 ranked Generals traveled to Elon, N.C. to take on the Division I Phoenixes.  Elon has top-ranked Division I programs on their schedule such as UNC Chapel Hill and Duke.  According to head coach Erin Ness, this match was low pressure for the team despite playing such a competitive program.

“Playing Elon is a great experience for our team because it allows us to play a highly competitive match with no pressure,” Ness said.  “It doesn’t count against our ranking, and we can go in with nothing to lose.”

The women’s tennis team ended up losing to Elon 1–6, but there were highlights from the matches that have pumped the team up for the rest of the season.  The Generals were able to capture the doubles point.  Doubles partners Tessa Hill, ’19, and Brooke Donnelly, ’17, and partners Mary Hampton McNeal, ’19, and Lily Horsley, ’20, both beat out their competition.

“The energy after we won the doubles point was incredible,” Hill said.  “I think we were playing fearlessly during doubles because we knew that we had nothing to lose.”

Hill and Donnelly walked away with a win over Elon’s No. 1 doubles partner, which made Hill excited for the duos’ future success.

“I think that beating Elon’s No. 1 doubles team pretty handily,” Hill said, “has made me realize that me and my doubles partner, Brooke, have a lot of potential to beat top-ranked teams in the nation this season.”

According to Ness, the team came into the match with the mindset that they had nothing to lose.  Ness believed that it was going to be a competitive match and that Elon would underestimate the Generals’ ability.

Ness also said that this match would prove to be a great recruiting tool in the future.  Elon’s head coach contacted Ness to schedule the matchup which proves that as a team, the Generals are “respected enough to be asked to play a school like Elon.”

Moving forward, the women’s tennis team is using the success they had against Elon as a confidence builder for the rest of the season.

“We know that if we can compete at a decent Division I level,” Ness said, “we can compete with and beat anyone in the country in Division III tennis.”

Last year, the Generals made it all the way to the third round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis Tournament.  With this recent success against Elon in their back pocket, the Generals hope to build momentum for the rest of the season and carry that into this year’s NCAA tournament.

Washington and Lee fans can catch the women’s tennis team on their home court March 25 in their match against Carnegie Mellon, starting at 1 p.m.