Elizabeth Begley waits in anticipation of senior day, when her family and friends will come to celebrate her time at Texas. If not for her parents who supported her, that day may have never been in her sight.
As a child, Begley participated in basketball, soccer and tennis. Her parents attended all of her games and supported her fully. Most importantly, they never pressured her to focus solely on tennis.
“I’ve always had a racket in my hand,” Begley said. “I played different sports as a kid, but I really wanted to play tennis.”
Begley started playing competitively at age 7. Her parents put her in tournaments because she had the itch to compete.
Her parents’ support carried over into her college career at Texas. They attend almost all of her matches, and include her teammates in their frequent family dinners and events.
“They’re so supportive,” Begley said. “They say certain things, like inside jokes that remind me of big struggles in the past, that help me push through when I’m down.”
This season Begley will take on responsibilities she never had to worry about as an underclassman. As a team leader, she organizes practice and is responsible for pushing her teammates, including junior Annat Rabinovich.
“I played right next to her in one of my first dual matches last year,” Rabinovich said. “It was one of my best life experiences because I was nervous and having Elizabeth next to me made me feel less nervous. I was pumped up because she was cheering for me and was always there for me.”
Begley has a newfound appreciation for her coaches because of the work it takes to organize a team and the role they play in improving her as a player.
“They’ve found angles in my backhand that no one else has seen before,” Begley said. “If anyone knows how to develop a tennis player, it’s Patty. My coaches are one of the reasons why I want to go into college coaching.”
But Patty Fendick-McCain wants to see her on the court as long as possible.
“I’d like to see her pursue tennis as far as it takes her before she makes that move, but she’s already showing great leadership skills as a role model, her work ethic and understanding of the game,” Fendick-McCain said.
Begley heads into this weekend’s Duke Invitational after a summer of non-stop tennis preparation. This summer, Begley competed in six tournaments and trained in the Texas heat, which included track exercises to improve her court mobility.
On the night before the match, Begley will prepare the same way she always has — by loading up on carbohydrates. On game day, she will go through the longest warm-up of anyone on the team. With plenty of orange Gatorade and blueberry Clif Bars in her bag, she will be ready.
The season presents a challenge to Begley, as she attempts to fill the shoes Aeriel Ellis left behind after an impressive four-year career.
“She was small, but she had big feet,” Begley said. “I know I can’t replicate what she did, but there is an unknown factor of what I can do.”