By Dalton Ray–
Feb. 7 saw Louisville’s women’s tennis Coach Mark Beckham reach a personal coaching achievement as he won his 100th match as U of L’s head coach.
The 4-3 win over conference foe Pittsburgh was number 100 and the 7-0 victory against St. Louis gave him win number 101. Beckham does appreciate all the help he’s gotten from his current and former players along with his coaches over the years and he looks to continue his success.
“It means a lot to me. To be honest I didn’t even know that it was, so it came kind of as a shock. My goal with this program is to turn us into a traditional tennis power and I feel we’re making steps to that. We weren’t really respected across the country before I came but now everyone knows what Louisville tennis is about. The program is in the midst of evolving to becoming what we want it to be.”
The win against Pitt didn’t come easily. The team had to come back then fight off the Panthers to hold on to the win. U of L’s Ariana Rodriguez and Elle Stokes were the only doubles pair to win, 8-6, so the doubles point went to Pitt. U of L’s Manuela Velasquez and Ellie Gerlach were outlasted by Pitt’s Molly Wickmon and Amber Washington 8-7, which gave the clinching point to Pittsburgh.
To get the win, the Cardinals would have to win four of the six singles matches, and that’s exactly what they did. Velazquez got some revenge against Washington as she won 6-4, 6-3. Jessie Lynn Paul quickly took care of Callie Frey 6-1, 6-4, which gave the Cards some quick momentum. Olivia Boesing was next to defeat Wickmon, which gave the home team a 3-1 lead. After Pitt would take the next two matches 6-4, 6-3 and 6-4, 6-1 the match was tied at three all before sophomore Chloe Willetts clinched the match with a 7-5, 6-0 win.
Sophomore Boesing was very proud of how the team responded.
“It was a big match. It’s different and new for us but we we’re excited and ready to play. Any win in the ACC is a good win,” Boesing said. “They gave us all we wanted at doubles and it was a little frustrating but we’re going to have to push through because it’s going to be like that from here on out.”
After a tough match against Pitt, the Cardinals wanted to come out and handle the visiting St. Louis Billikens quickly. The pair of Rodriguez and Stokes notched another win 6-3, Boesing and Willetts rebounded after a rough doubles match against Pittsburgh winning 5-3, and the freshmen duo of Gerlach and Paul won 6-0.
The Cards would take home all six of the singles matches. Willetts and Boesing won their matches swiftly 6-2, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-2. Paul would take her second singles victory of the day 6-3, 6-0. Rodriguez and Stokes bounced back after tough losses in the first match and won 6-2, 6-2 and 6-1, 7-5. Gerlach would have her hands full as she was forced to a third set but won 6-2, 2-6, 10-8 for her second singles victory of the year.
Louisville is now 9-1 after pushing Beckham’s win total to triple digits. Boesing says the team’s closeness is one of the reasons why they’re playing so well right now and the amount of potential they have is huge. While they may be young they’re all around the same age and the team rallies around that which brings them together. After playing eight of their first ten games at home, the team will be traveling to Huntington, West Virginia to play Marshall and number 72 Minnesota next weekend.
Photo by Wade Morgen/The Louisville Cardinal.