On May 16, senior Elizabeth Begley is not planning on congregating with her fellow sociology majors at the Frank Erwin Center.
Instead, she’ll be on the big stage.
“I won’t be attending my graduation because we’ll be playing in the NCAA Championships at that time,” Begley said.
Begley and her Longhorn teammates must first get past the first two rounds to advance to Athens, Georgia. But the senior is confident in her team’s ability and won’t mind missing out on walking the stage.
“It’s fine with me,” Begley said. “I’ll be out doing the thing I love.”
Heading into the NCAA Championships, Begley holds a 13-9 dual match singles record, including a 9-7 mark at the No. 2 position.
This year has been the roughest of her three full seasons. For the last two years, she was the Big 12 Champion at No. 4 and No. 6 singles. Her sophomore year was the best, with a 34-7 record (21-2 dual, 9-0 Big 12).
When her season finally ends, Begley will no longer be walking into the Penick-Allison Center every day, going to the movies with teammates or cooling off after a match in an ice bath. Instead, she’ll be in the “real world.”
But, unlike many seniors, she will leave UT knowing what she wants to do.
“I want to go into college coaching, so I’ll still be around the college scene afterwards,” Begley said. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a sophomore.”
She has prepared herself since that decision, taking classes such as psychology and coaching theory, the latter of which examines the philosophy, ethics, strategies, motivational techniques, performance analysis, program organization, contest administration and facilities management related to coaching.
Coaching will also allow Begley to do something else.
“I love to travel,” Begley said.
Patty Fendick-McCain, a former player turned head coach, supports Begley’s chosen career path.
“It’s a great decision for her,” former player turned head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “She has spent a lot of years learning so many different levels of the game to improve her skills. She cares a lot about the people around her and how they do. She’ll give a lot back to other people in that role.”
Fendick-McCain, who won two straight national championships as a player at Stanford and won 26 doubles titles competing in the Women’s Tennis Association, believes Begley could spend her near future in the pro tour.
“She’s been playing very well,” Fendick-McCain said. “I’d like to see her get her feet wet and see where it takes her. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility for her to make a living playing before she goes into coaching.”
Begley has spent this year as the senior leader, helping to build camaraderie with a multinational squad. Six of the nine Longhorns are international, with players hailing from Canada, England, Lithuania, Belgium, Croatia and India.
“I just push my teammates to perform,” Begley said. “I tell them to think of every match as their last and play their best.”
Whatever comes next for Begley, she will never forget the place she has called home the last four years.
“I’ve spent more time here than anywhere else on campus,” Begley said. “This is where I’ve bled, cried and sweated.”