By Matt Bradshaw —
Women’s tennis (10-10, 2-8) dropped its seventh straight match with a tough 5-2 loss to Boston College (13-7, 3-7). Louisville moves to .500 on the season with four matches left to play.
Highlighting the ACC competition was Senior Day for the Cardinals. The program honored Aleksandra “Ola” Mally and Sena Suswam for the years of work they put into the sport. Both have battled injuries in the past but powered through for notable careers, representing Louisville in the toughest conference in the country.
“I’ve coached a lot of people, but as far as people, there haven’t been better people than these two,” head coach Mark Beckham said about Mally and Suswam. “They’ve been through quite a bit, but I feel like it’s been worth it. The one thing I see as my responsibility is teach that if you’re going through bad stuff, it’s only going to make you stronger. If you can find the other side, it’s going to make you better prepared for the real world. You don’t have to worry about these two seniors, because they’re ready.”
Hailing from Franklin Springs, New York, Mally arrived on campus in the fall of 2014 as a five-star recruit. Unluckily, injuries plagued Mally in her first two years on the court. These setbacks included a fractured humerus and a tear in her lateral epicondyle, otherwise known as the tennis elbow.
Coach Beckham has said that, if not for her injuries, Mally would go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the program. Still, Ola’s ability to overcome the obstacles has made her one of the most resilient student-athletes in years.
“Ola doesn’t talk a whole lot, because she lets her actions speak for herself,” Beckham said. “She’s had every reason to quit. She’s had very reason to feel sorry for herself. A lot of these things would have broken down a normal person, probably rightfully so. But not her. I love her personality.”
Mally prefers outdoor competition to indoor, as more factors affect the game without a roof. Opponents who thrive indoors cannot get away with as much outdoors, and Mally takes advantage of that with her aggressive style of play.
Hailing from Hoover, Alabama, Suswam arrived at U of L as the No. 1 ranked tennis player in her state. She also earned 2014 Alabama Junior Player of the Year honors. Like Mally, Suswam has overcome problems with injuries as a Cardinal.
Surgery on both of Suswam’s shins caused constant pain in the past, but as coach Beckham has said, that does not stop her from giving everything she has. Suswam never complains and powers through with an “old school” personality.
“Sophomore year, she had cracks in her shin the size of quarters. That hurts,” Beckham said. “She’s one of the toughest girls I’ve ever come across. On top of that, she’s probably one of the most respected players to ever walk on this court. Everybody has respect for Sena Suswam.”
A powerful player, Suswam packs a big serve and big forehand that fare extremely well in indoor competition.
“You need to make sure that when you leave this place,” Beckham said, referring to his seniors. “Anybody who speaks about Sena Suswam or Ola Mally will have positive things to say. And I feel like these two carry themselves in a way that’s off the charts. They do things the right way, don’t make excuses, and they’re going to be super super successful.”
Louisville ends the regular season with a four-match road trip that starts at Virginia Tech on April 5 at 3 p.m.
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Photos by Matt Bradshaw / The Louisville Cardinal