Patty Fendick-McCain

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.”

After a five-day wait, sophomore Breaunna Addison’s first singles appearance at the ITA All-American Championships was short-lived. 

Addison played Thursday against No. 11 Kyle McPhillips of UCLA in the first round of the main draw. McPhillips eliminated her from championship contention in straight sets (7-5, 6-3). 

She also lost quickly Friday to No. 26 Nadia Ravita of Kentucky in the consolation round.

The All-American was not as prepared as she wanted to be against her ranked opponents.

“Breaunna fought hard but has battled through some physical challenges lately,” head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said in a statement. “She didn’t get to prepare the way she would have liked to in order to compete at her best. It was a tough week but I am confident she will bounce back like the champion that she is.”

The Longhorns finished 7-6 in Southern California. Addison and Horn won three in doubles competition. Freshman Ratnika Batra collected four singles matches, including two over ranked players.

Texas heads to Fort Worth on Oct. 17 for the ITA Texas Regional Championships.

Parker French looks to bounce back from a loss to Oklahoma in last weekend's series when he faces Kansas in Game 1 of a crucial series for Texas. French is 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA this season. 

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

The streak is alive, but even if it ends soon, Breaunna Addison will keep on moving.

Last weekend, Addison, a freshman at Texas, won her tenth consecutive singles match in a bout against Boston University on Sunday — a match, she said, that gave her all she could handle.

“My match on Sunday was probably the toughest [this season],” she said. “My opponent had a lot of variety in her moves and I was tired. I did not want to give up the streak, but at the end of the day it is about the team and not me.”

Before her time as a Longhorn, Addison grew up and played tennis in Boca Raton in South Florida. It is home to Florida Atlantic University and has been a residential area for well-known athletes such as Pete Rose, Jeff Gordon and Cris Carter.

After growing up watching tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams and her favorite, Roger Federer, she decided to give tennis a shot. Addison said that she wants to adjust her style to be like Federer’s, which means incorporating mixed angles while returning and playing strategic tennis.

Addison enjoyed success in high school and at one point was ranked sixth in the nation. She won the prestigious Orange Bowl in 2009 as a 14-year-old playing in the 16-year-old division.

She has also played against, and beaten, Sloane Stephens, who is best known today as the American who defeated the decorated Serena Williams at the Australian Open this year.

Head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said she admires Addison’s passion for the game and her attention to the team.

“Breaunna is such a tremendous person and a team player,” Fendick-McCain said. “It is good to see her doing well this season considering she just started in January.”

She also said that Addison is extremely coachable during practices and matches, and that her feedback has been beneficial to the coaching process. Addison has a similar admiration of her coach, who she credits as being the person who has helped her develop into a better player the most.

“Many people have had an influence on me from the beginning,” Addison said, “but Patty really pushes me and does not let me cruise
through practice.”

Her teammates have also been a wonder to her development as a team player. Despite not knowing anyone before she arrived, Addison received everyone’s help along the way.

Sophomore Noel Scott, Addison’s doubles partner and roommate at Texas, helps set up Addison for her impressive singles outings because of her own aggression in doubles. As a result, the two have shared a close bond when it comes to talking tennis and going about their days.

As the season continues, Addison said that it will be important for her to stay focused in practice and go out and play at her best for the team, win or lose. That alone will determine how successful her first season will be.

The Longhorns set the tone for the weekend on Friday. Adversity set in for the longhorns after a weekend of play.

Sophomores Noel Scott and Lina Padegimaite began a strong day for the Texas players. The pair won their opening match versus LSU then defeated UTSA’s Isabelle Jonsson and Jacobea Junger 8-4.

“Lina and Noel were dominating today in doubles and it was fun to see them back on the court together,” Head Coach Patty Fendick-McCain said.

Three other Longhorns claimed victory Friday. Sophomore Annat Rabinovich evaded a third set in her match against Leah Fried of Rice University, winning in straight sets, 6-1 and 7-5.

Juniors Elizabeth Begley and Juliana Gajic each won their opening matches, eliminating Jonsson and Junger.

Coach Fendick-McCain was impressed with the performance of Begley, attributing her success to her overall improvement.

“She’s adding a whole new dimension to her game. She’s stretching the court out, her volleys are improving dramatically and she’s getting comfortable finishing at the net,” Fendick-McCain said.

Despite the success on day one, Gajic and Begley were ousted from doubles play 8-4 by Houston. Scott had to retire from singles down 1-4 because of illness.

On Saturday, Begley and Rabinovich dominated as each collected a pair of wins in their respective brackets, gaining slots in the finals on Sunday.

With Scott back on the court, she and Padegimaite were eliminated 8-3 in the semifinals by SMU. Gajic lost in straight sets to Barbora Vykydalova of North Texas.

In the Orange bracket final on Sunday, Begley fell to SMU’s Aleksandra Malyarchikova in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. She had the chance to push the first set to 5-5, but lost after a couple of rounds of deuces.

Rabinovich had her hands full in the Black bracket final, splitting the first two sets with Tulane’s Ipec Birol, including a tough 7-6 loss in the first set. Birol would claim the final set 6-4 and the match as Longhorns lose in the finals for a second straight week.

The Longhorns head to Los Angeles Sept. 29 for the week long ITA All-American Championship.

They say there’s no place like home. For the Longhorns, home is hopefully the place where they set the tone for the season.

“This is a great event to kick off the season at home,” head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “We’re going to get a good look at West Virginia, who is new to our conference.”

Texas hosts the Longhorn Invitational this weekend, where 12 teams, including five others from Texas, will be competing.

Coming off of her straight-sets loss in the finals last weekend at the Duke Invitational, sophomore Noel Scott looks to take first place this time around. Considering the opposition she will be going up against this weekend, the task will be a challenge.

“The tournament’s going to be full of high-level players, a lot of challenging matches,” Scott said. “I beat some really good players last week and just want to keep it up.”

Senior Aeriel Ellis, ranked No. 20, is off this weekend, while sophomore Lina Padegimaite will see action for the first time this season. The No. 18-ranked doubles tandem of Scott and Padegimaite will take the court for the Longhorns.

Scott also faces Caroline Thornton of Tulane in the first round of singles play in the Orange Bracket. Junior Elizabeth Begley joins Scott in the bracket, setting up a possible all-Longhorns semifinal.

Sophomore Annat Rabinovich squares off against Leah Fried of Rice University in the Black Bracket. She will also pair up with Victoria Parshikova of North Texas in doubles play, although they will not be playing an official match.

Junior Juliana Gajic will play in the singles’ White Bracket, matching up with UTSA’s Jacobea Junger.

Play at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center will begin each day at 8:30 a.m. starting Friday and will run through Sunday, with the finals ending around 2:00 p.m.

Tennis

They say actions speak louder than words. With that said, the Longhorns intend to let their rackets do all the talking this season.

The women’s tennis squad comes into the 2012-2013 season returning six athletes from a team that finished No. 10 in the final Intercollegiate Tennis Association team poll. Despite a strong year that saw the Longhorns claim a Big 12 title, a loss in the round of 16 at the NCAA Championships leaves some unfinished business for this year.

“We are just excited for play to begin this fall,” head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “This team has been training hard, and the ladies are ready to start their first competition.”

Leading the team will be senior Aeriel Ellis, who enters this season as the No. 20 ranked singles player in the country. Ellis earned her second consecutive ITA singles All-America selection last season and has also advanced to the round of 16, improving on their 2011 finish, where they made it to the round of 32 at the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship.

Sophomore Lina Padegimaite is coming off of a spectacular freshman campaign that saw her post a 22-5 singles record en route to being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Junior Elizabeth Begley posted an impressive 34-7 overall singles record, including a perfect 9-0 mark in conference play last season. Padegimaite and Begley will likely move to the top of the lineup with the departure of Krista Damico.

Sophomore Noel Scott will also look to carry some of the load for the ladies as she is coming off of an impressive freshman season much like her doubles partner Padegimaite. The pair enters this season as the No. 18 ranked duo in the country.

The Longhorns will be one of 16 teams to begin their seasons this weekend at the Duke Fab-Four Invitational.

“There will be several highly ranked players at this Duke tournament,” Fendick-McCain said. “It will be a great opportunity to challenge ourselves as we start off the fall season.”

The tournament has a strong field that features players from Illinois, North Carolina, Alabama, Yale and tournament host Duke, with play beginning Friday afternoon.

Women's Tennis

The Longhorns fought weather, inconsistency and top competition all season long. This weekend, they ended with a split.

The women picked up a solid victory this weekend to earn them a 7-2 conference record, and a lot of momentum heading into the Big 12 tournament. Texas outlasted Oklahoma 5-2, but dropped a close one to the Cowboys 4-3.

Despite a big doubles win by Aeriel Ellis and Elizabeth Begley on Saturday, the team dropped the usually important doubles point. However, it made no difference on the outcome of the match.

The Longhorns dominated singles competition against Oklahoma, winning five of the six matches. Ellis finally found her stride again, getting back into the win column with a victory in straight sets.

“Aeriel Ellis worked hard this week and was great today in doubles and singles,” said Patty Fendick-McCain, head coach.

Freshman Noel Scott found her way back into the winning side of things against Oklahoma.

“Noel [Scott] got over the hump today and played the kind of tennis she is capable of playing,” Fendick-McCain said. “Noel has been working so hard, and she deserves to win. It’s great to see her turn the corner.”

Sunday proved to be a stiffer challenge, as the ladies fought tooth and nail, but couldn’t edge the Oklahoma State Cowboys, losing 4-3.

In spite of the loss, Krista Damico finally got on track in this match, winning in straight sets to cap a tremendous regular season for the senior.

The theme of the weekend however was the continued outstanding play from the bottom of the Longhorns’ lineup. Begley and Lina Padegimaite each won two matches and Cierra Gaytan-Leach added another impressive victory.

“Cierra Gaytan-Leach, Lina Padegimaite and Elizabeth Begley were all-business at Nos. 4, 5 and 6 singles. They were great,” Fendick-McCain said. “Elizabeth is playing like the player we recruited. She came in with some very good international experience, and she has worked super hard after a tough freshman year.”

After three matches of rough weather and rough competition, the Longhorns must endure two more storms in conference play.

Heading into this weekend’s matches with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the women sit at the top of the Big 12 with a 6-1 record. Coming off a close loss to A&M, the team is in perfect position to flash its trademark resiliency.

“We’ll figure it out by the time we hit the [Big 12] tournament,” said head coach Patty Fendick-McCain “We’ve got a lot more tennis to play. We’ve got two more matches coming up, and that’s going to determine the conference champion. We’ll be ready to go.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Begley has been called the backbone of this year’s team by coaches and teammates alike. Her 29-7 overall record, including a perfect 7-0 record in Big 12 play has garnered her much deserved attention, as she’s given this team all the lift they need to stay near the top.

Gritty play has characterized the team all year long, and as of late, the same can be said of Cierra Gaytan-Leach, who was recently named Big 12 player of the week. In her last three matches, Gaytan-Leach has fought back from deficits to eke out much needed wins and points for the team.

“She’s feeling very confident now, and she’s got a good sense of herself,” Fendick-McCain said. “You can’t say enough about it.”

It’s no secret that newcomers have stepped up all year long to aid a stellar veteran lineup. Freshman Lina Padegimaite has probably been the most impressive in her first season, notching many key doubles wins with fellow freshman Noel Scott, as well as notching an impressive 16 singles wins to this point.

“She’s hitting her stride now, and that’s what we want to see,” Fendick-McCain said. “She’s getting comfortable playing on a hard court. It’s a completely different style of play, a more aggressive style. She’s had to adapt and has done a really good job.”

The three players mentioned above are currently playing the best tennis for the Longhorns. Entering the last stretch of matches before the Big 12 tournament, this key play isn’t coming from the top of the women’s lineup, but rather from the bottom.

“At four, five and six, those girls are playing so well, and they really feel good about their games,” Fendick-McCain said. “We have to get back on form at the top three spots, but four, five and six have been working hard, and they’re feeling it right now.”

With motivation and redemption on the minds of the Longhorns, the Sooners and Cowboys could be in for a disappointing end to conference play this weekend.

Senior Krista Damico helped Texas get past Texas Tech by winning her singles match in straight sets. The Longhorns are 6-0 against Big 12 foes and will try to improve to 7-0 when they face Texas A&M Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Lingnan Chen | Daily Texan Staff

Following a pair of impressive conference wins, the Longhorns are ready to face off with an old rival.

The team is 6-0 in Big 12 play and ranked No. 13 in the country. Victories over the likes of top 25 teams such as Baylor and Texas Tech proved that these accolades are no fluke.

“Texas Tech came in undefeated in conference play this year and has been playing some great tennis with some very scrappy players,” said head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “It is just a really good win to get at home.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Begley has emerged as of late, becoming a kind of backbone for the women. She currently holds an undefeated conference record and a 12-1 record overall after two wins last weekend.

“Elizabeth Begley was terrific out there [against Tech],” Fendick-McCain said.

Cierra Gaytan-Leach has earned numerous victories in doubles play this year, but her nail-biting victories in the last few matches have earned her attention for her singles play as well. She fought back from a third set deficit to clinch the match point for the team against Baylor and proceeded to do the same against Texas Tech the next day.

“I went down 3-0 and was kind of moping around a little bit and trying to keep my head up, but I told myself, ‘Okay, I know it is coming down to me and I have to do it for Texas,’” Gaytan-Leach said. “I stepped it up and everything went my way.”

Gaytan-Leach’s resolve did not go unnoticed.

“You could see the determination in her eyes when she came back out for the third set,” Fendick-McCain said. “I felt good about it. I just kind of sat back and enjoyed the third set because I felt really good about it.”

Veterans Krista Damico and Aeriel Ellis have buoyed the team’s charge all season long and not much more can be said about their impact. However, the bottom of the Longhorn’s lineup is filled with newcomers who are performing at a level impossible to miss.

“Lina [Padegimaite], Elizabeth [Begley] and Cierra [Gaytan-Leach] have been playing so great at four, five and six [singles],” Fendick-McCain said. “I thought those three matches were going to be over with pretty quickly today [against Baylor] because they’ve all been playing well.”

Padegimaite, a freshman for the Longhorns, currently holds 12 singles wins this year, putting her near the top on this solid team. But her doubles play may be the most impressive feat of her first season, as she and fellow freshman Noel Scott are ranked No. 42 in the country as a duo.

“They’ve worked so hard in the last couple of weeks to really get back on form, because they’ve struggled, but I thought it was great to see them clinch the point [against Baylor],” Fendick-McCain said. “That couldn’t have been better. It was awesome.”

With all of this momentum, the women will head to College Station for a battle with the Aggies.

Printed on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 as: Longhorns look to stay perfect against conference competition

Women's Tennis Preview

They rank No. 13 in the nation, hold a flawless conference record and perhaps have multiple All-Big 12 performers.

At this point, the Longhorns have proven that they are one of the best tennis teams in the country and one of the best athletics groups on campus. Following two dominating victories against Kansas and Kansas State, the team is in a good position in the Big 12.

“The girls really stepped up and played well,” head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “It was great to see them perform that well. We just need to stay fresh and focused.”

The women currently reside in the No. 13 spot in the ITA rankings, holding an 11-5 record, including a 4-0 record in Big 12 play. Resiliency has been the team’s motto, but consistency has defined the team’s top performers.

Senior Krista Damico has been the leader of this year’s squad all season long, earning her status as team captain. Although her 12-match win streak was snapped against Kansas State, her 12-2 record overall has earned her a spot amongst the top 70 players in the country.

After a pair of wins against the Jayhawks and Wildcats, sophomore Elizabeth Begley pushed her singles record to 10-1 on the year. Even though her impressive play has slid under the radar this year, her impact hasn’t gone completely unnoticed.

“She has been a rock down there,” Fendick-McCain said. “She never gives an inch and having that kind of backbone in your lineup is very helpful.”

Mainstays in the Longhorns’ lineup have played huge all year, but newcomers have also stepped up and proved their worth. Freshmen Noel Scott and Lina Padegimaite remained consistent all year, pushing their win totals to 15 and 10 respectively in the team’s last match.

The big women on campus and in all of college tennis will take their two-game win streak into weekend matches against Big 12 rivals Baylor and Texas Tech.

Printed on Friday, April 13, 2012 as: Undefeated in Big 12 play, Texas prepares for Baylor