Women’s tennis makes first SSAC final in school history


Gabrielle Korein

The women’s tennis team stands for a group photo during their match against Jones College at City Park Tennis Center on March 22, 2023

Matthew Richards, Sports Editor

The women’s tennis team reached the finals for the first time since joining the Southern States Athletic Conference in 2010. 

No. 15 Loyola lost to No. 16 William Carey in the final, which was held in Montgomery, Alabama.

“We would have loved to take the title, but we’re super proud that we made Loyola history by making the final,” said junior advertising major Lucy Carpenter, who competed in the No. 1 spot in both singles and doubles competition.

Head coach Matthew Llewellyn was proud of the team winning in the semifinals against the No. 12 University of Mobile. 

“We had lost to Mobile in the regular season and knew we did not play our best match then, so we had a lot to prove to ourselves and the conference that day,” Llewellyn said.

Because of their successful run, the women received an at-large invitation to participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Women’s Tennis Championships later this month again in Mobile.  

We received one vote to win the tournament from the conference coaches’ poll earlier this year, and that was from me,” Llewellyn told Wolf Pack Athletics. “I believe in this team so much, and we still did not even come close to what we are capable of, so it will be fun to bring this group back for one more run together.

The team posted a record of 13 wins and seven losses, and outperformed their projected third place finish in the spring preseason polls.

The team was led in victories by freshman international business major Micaela Ponce, who had 22 combined match victories this season with 10 in singles and 12 in doubles. For her efforts, the Ecuadorian was named to the SSAC All-Conference team as well as SSAC Co-Freshman of the Year.

“It was a surprise because I knew I had a great season, but I wasn’t expecting the nomination,” Ponce said. “But it felt really good and was a rewarding feeling. And having the team there felt nice, knowing that all the hard work and early training was for something big like this.”

Second on the team in total victories and also named to the All-Conference team was Carpenter, who finished the regular season on a four-match winning streak and was named NAIA National Player of the Week for the week of Apr. 5th. 

“It’s very rewarding to be acknowledged among the entire NAIA,” Carpenter said. “I had a great result that week, so that was super exciting.”

The successful run to the finals has Llewellyn excited for the future of the program.

“The ladies are all in on winning,” he said. “They are committed to our program, believe in what we are doing, trust our vision, and love the college tennis experience.” 

Llewellyn also said the team had two freshmen named to the All-Conference team this year, Adele Fereres and Ponce, which he said is an “incredible achievement and a testament to where the program is heading.” 

“They relentlessly compete and play for each other, and I’m very proud of them.” he said.