Women’s tennis hits highest ranking in program history


Gabrielle Korein

The women’s team takes a group photo after their victory against Jones College on March 23, 2023. The team received their highest ranking ever in the most recent NAIA polls, coming in at No. 11

Alexandra Akes, Staff Writer

The Wolf Pack women’s tennis team has achieved its highest ranking in the program’s history in the recently released third Women’s Tennis Coaches’ Top 25 poll for 2023.

Loyola is now placed at the No. 11 spot, surpassing their previous spot at No. 12. With less than a month of their regular schedule left to play, Loyola’s women’s tennis team hopes to accomplish even more than they already have this season.

Head coach Matthew Llewellyn said that this accomplishment is one of the highlights of the season.

“I know we can be one of the top five teams in the country,” he said. “To do this, we need to own that challenge. Live it. Every single day we need to play with supreme confidence and zero doubt.”

Loyola’s overall record stands at 9-4 now, with recent victories over Millsaps College and Jones College, and a loss against the University of Mobile.

Llewellyn said that one thing the team has begun to overcome this season is mental and physical toughness.

“We worked on embracing not always needing everything to be perfect for us to play winning tennis,” Llewellyn said. “Life is not perfect. Tennis is a great example of that.”

Psychological studies senior Fatima Vasquez said that the team’s victory against William Carey University was one of her biggest highlights this season so far.

“It was a great time for the team. Everybody did their part to achieve this goal,” she said. “I was happy to be named Southern States Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the second time in my career at Loyola.”

In singles, Vasquez went up against Malak Abarkane of William Carey, who was ranked No. 8 in the International Tennis Association singles rankings at the time of the match. Vasquez won the match in four sets.

Doubles pair Micaela Ponce and Ariana Salgueiro-Estela also brought in points for The Wolf Pack after winning 6-3 in the same match.

Vasquez competed and won in doubles 6-0 against William Carey alongside junior Lucy Carpenter, who was named SSAC player of the week at the end of February for the third time in her career.

Carpenter, an advertising junior, said that the team has more to prove in the last remaining weeks of the season.

“Something we had to overcome was starting off the season a bit slow,” Carpenter said. “It took some time and playing some higher level matches to realize the level we had to compete at, so we had to push ourselves a bit more to see the results that we’ve now had at this point.”
The team will play at the Round-Up tournament this weekend in Mobile, Alabama. They will face Blue Mountain College, Middle Georgia State University, and Florida National University.
Llewellyn said that their goal is to win the SSAC conference tournament in April, go to nationals, and ball out.
“This team is made up of strong, smart, and independent women. I’m super proud of that. I want them to fully embrace who they are as people and what we can become as a team,” Llewellyn said.