Junior Austin Allen prevailed in the White Singles Flight of the Elon Fall Invitational and was named champion after winning the championship match with a 6-1 final in both sets to bring home a program win for East Carolina University’s men’s tennis team.
“When it came to playing in the finals, I was not too exhausted,” Allen said. “Our coaches have pushed us hard in practice and in the weight room to get us into great shape, they have also instilled trying to compete our hardest for every point regardless of the score, I didn’t look at the finals different so I was able to go out and execute my game plan.”
The men’s team went on the road to compete in the Elon Fall Invitational where it faced players from Elon University, Coastal Carolina University, Furman University, Clemson University, University of South Carolina Upstate, University of North Carolina at Asheville, North Carolina University, University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the College of Charleston.
The men’s team had two players make it to the championship round of their respective flights. Junior Will Bissett finished second in the Powell Singles Flight but ended up falling 6-3, 6-4 in the title match.
"It was great for us to get back in action,” head coach Shawn Heinchon said. “Some of our guys were a bit rusty and it showed with some mixed results in singles. We were impressed with our early season doubles play, that was great all weekend. Great work for Will and Austin. They both had really good singles tournaments, and we are proud of Austin for winning his flight for his first college tournament win."
Invitationals is not focused on whether a team competes on a team versus team basis, rather, the focus shifts more to individual performances. The athletes play in flights, better known as tier competitions. The players are given the opportunity to play in three singles matches and three doubles matches in each invitational.
This past weekend, the women’s tennis teams also showed signs of dominance in its respective Invitationals as they competed in the Pirates Invitational at home, while sending one player to the Oracle Intercollegiate Tennis Association Masters tournament in Malibu, California.
Junior Celia Ruiz was invited to play in the California tournament where she defeated Marianna Petrei of Idaho 6-3, 6-2 in the first round. In the second round, Ruiz played the No. 2 seed in the tournament and prevailed in two sets 6-4, 7-6(3). In the third round, Ruiz played the No. 13 ranked player in the nation, Mayar Ahmed, from Pepperdine University, according to ITA, where she ended up falling in two sets 6-2, 6-3.
“There were 32 players in the nation who were selected to play in the Masters tournament,” women’s head coach Tom Morris said. “Ruiz was one of the them and she did very well in California.”
The women’s team hosted the Pirate Invitational at home with Campbell University, West Virginia State University, North Carolina Central University and the University of Mount Olive over the weekend.
The Lady Pirates performed well in both singles and doubles. In doubles, sophomore Lisa Hofbauer and senior Maria Gomez teamed up and went 3-0 in flight one after winning their first and second matches with a final score of 6-1, while completing the sweep with a 6-0 shutout win in their final match.
“Playing in this invitational gave us a chance to get a good look at the team's,” Morris said. “We will be able to sit down and see what we need to work on moving forward to prepare us for the next invitational which will be at Wake Forest.”
In singles, Gomez and sophomore Nastija Rettich from ECU went 3-0 in their matches and won in dominant fashion. Rettich won her matches in Flight Four where she earned a 6-1, 6-0 victory in her first match, followed up by a 6-1, 6-1 win in match two and a very convincing shutout 6-0, 6-0 victory to finish off the day 3-0.
After winning all three doubles matches, Gomez turned around and earned another three victories in singles where she competed in Flight Five won her first and third matches in two sets 6-2, 6-0. In her second match, it was tougher in the first set but ultimately prevailed 7-5, and went on to win 6-1.
“I was executing what we have been working on,” Gomez said. “We did a lot of preparation for this and in turn got to play people that we are going to play in the spring, and we were able to see how we are doing as a team whether we were doing good or bad.”
The next invitational for the women’s team will be at Wake Forest on Oct. 6 while the men’s team will be at Intercollegiate Tennis Association Carolina Regional in Cary on Oct. 13.