The East Carolina University women’s tennis team will travel to the Kitty Harrison Invitational in Chapel Hill this weekend, while Celia Ruiz will take her talents to the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships in California after earning the first At-Large bid to the event in Pirates’ history.
Seeding at the ITA Carolina Regional is not the only first Ruiz has achieved for the Pirates this fall season. Ruiz became the first player to ever earn an At-Large bid to the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. To get a bid, a player must reach the quarterfinals of the Oracle ITA Masters, the Round of 16 at the All-American Championships, or the quarterfinals of an ITA Regional Championship.
“This is a great opportunity for Celia, and it puts us on the map a little bit, when people get to see us in the National Championships,” head coach Tom Morris said. “You build on what you do in the fall, and we’ve had a great fall.”
Earlier this year at the ITA Carolina Regional, Ruiz and Lisa Hofbauer became the first doubles team in ECU women’s tennis history to seed at the event, taking the No. 9 spot.
“The level of the tournament was really good. We had some good matches there in general and its gives us confidence for our upcoming matches,” Hofbauer said.
The Pirates will try to cap off their historic season with a good showing in Chapel Hill this weekend and should look to build on the momentum they have created this season. The Pirates’ future looks bright, as Morris and his staff have recruited well. With four freshmen and two sophomores, the Pirates have the potential for much future success based on the play of the underclassmen this season.
“Watching the juniors and seniors play well has been a motivator for us freshmen,” Alisa Diercksen, a native of Hamburg, Germany, said. “They’re our role models and team leaders and when they have that winning mindset, we have it too.”
The Pirates will need both their under and upperclassmen to perform well this week if they wish to continue their success. They should be used to stiff competition and should be prepared after a good fall season, according to coaches and players.
“We’ve seen some great matches from our players and our players have beaten some very high-quality programs,” Morris said. “It’s been a good fall and I think we’ve been able to demonstrate that we’re able to beat top-tier opponents.”
The Pirates have momentum going into their match in Chapel Hill this weekend for a good showing paired with the Oracle ITA National Championships bid for Celia Ruiz, which should propel them into the spring season with high aspirations.