Elizabeth Begley

On May 16, senior Elizabeth Begley is not planning on congregating with her fellow sociology majors at the Frank Erwin Center. 

Instead, she’ll be on the big stage.

“I won’t be attending my graduation because we’ll be playing in the NCAA Championships at that time,” Begley said.

Begley and her Longhorn teammates must first get past the first two rounds to advance to Athens, Georgia. But the senior is confident in her team’s ability and won’t mind missing out on walking the stage.

“It’s fine with me,” Begley said. “I’ll be out doing the thing I love.”

Heading into the NCAA Championships, Begley holds a 13-9 dual match singles record, including a 9-7 mark at the No. 2 position.

This year has been the roughest of her three full seasons. For the last two years, she was the Big 12 Champion at No. 4 and No. 6 singles. Her sophomore year was the best, with a 34-7 record (21-2 dual, 9-0 Big 12).

When her season finally ends, Begley will no longer be walking into the Penick-Allison Center every day, going to the movies with teammates or cooling off after a match in an ice bath. Instead, she’ll be in the “real world.”

But, unlike many seniors, she will leave UT knowing what she wants to do.

“I want to go into college coaching, so I’ll still be around the college scene afterwards,” Begley said. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a sophomore.”

She has prepared herself since that decision, taking classes such as psychology and coaching theory, the latter of which examines the philosophy, ethics, strategies, motivational techniques, performance analysis, program organization, contest administration and facilities management related to coaching.

Coaching will also allow Begley to do something else.

“I love to travel,” Begley said.

Patty Fendick-McCain, a former player turned head coach, supports Begley’s chosen career path.

“It’s a great decision for her,” former player turned head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “She has spent a lot of years learning so many different levels of the game to improve her skills. She cares a lot about the people around her and how they do. She’ll give a lot back to other people in that role.”

Fendick-McCain, who won two straight national championships as a player at Stanford and won 26 doubles titles competing in the Women’s Tennis Association, believes Begley could spend her near future in the pro tour.

“She’s been playing very well,” Fendick-McCain said. “I’d like to see her get her feet wet and see where it takes her. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility for her to make a living playing before she goes into coaching.”

Begley has spent this year as the senior leader, helping to build camaraderie with a multinational squad. Six of the nine Longhorns are international, with players hailing from Canada, England, Lithuania, Belgium, Croatia and India.

“I just push my teammates to perform,” Begley said. “I tell them to think of every match as their last and play their best.”

Whatever comes next for Begley, she will never forget the place she has called home the last four years.

“I’ve spent more time here than anywhere else on campus,” Begley said. “This is where I’ve bled, cried and sweated.”

Senior Day and the last regular season match at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center will see seniors Elizabeth Begley and Juliana Gajic possibly play their last matches at home.

The Longhorns will face No. 14 Baylor (20-6, 8-0 Big 12) Friday. The Bears clinched the top seed in the conference tournament, and No. 20 Texas (11-10, 6-2) will look to take the third spot with a win.

“We’re always looking forward to playing Baylor,” head coach Patty Fendick-McCain said. “It’s always a great competitive match, and we’re focused on what we need to do.”

Begley resumes her No. 2 singles spot after moving to first with sophomore Breaunna Addison out against Oklahoma State. Both Begley and Gajic will also compete in doubles at their respective first and third spots.

“Hopefully this last match will be one of the most memorable ones they play,” Fendick-McCain said.

Texas and Baylor will begin play at 5 p.m.

Addison, Begley improve records at home for women's tennis

Texas dropped two home matches over the weekend against top-20 competitors though two of its players stole the show.

Sophomore Breaunna Addison knocked off Northwestern’s No. 30 Veronica Corning (6-3, 6-2) before besting that performance Sunday against Vanderbilt’s No. 48 Georgina Sellyn. With her feet shifting constantly throughout the match and no problems returning the ball, Addison overpowered Sellyn 6-0, 6-1.

Senior Elizabeth Begley proved just as impressive. Begley picked up a hard-earned 7-6, 7-5 victory on Saturday to return energized Sunday against Lauren Mira. Propelled by a supportive crowd, Begley won 6-2, 6-0.

Begley’s victory put Texas in winning position after sophomore Lana Groenvynck won her first singles dual match of the season.

Two straight Commodore victories put the deciding match at No. 5 singles. Pippa Horn sustained a left-leg injury shortly before she forced a third set in which she lost to Vanderbilt 4-3.  

The Longhorns head into a two-week layoff on a six-game losing streak.

—Chris Caraveo

Men’s tennis moves onto consolation round 

Texas men’s tennis defeated No. 4 Georgia in the first round of the ITA National Team Indoor Championship on Friday at the Galleria Tennis and Athletic Club. With a winning score of 4-3, No. 10 Texas advanced to the quarterfinals to face No. 5 Ohio State at the Downtown Club at The Met.

Texas began the tournament with three consecutive singles wins from sophomore Nick Naumann (6-4, 6-3), junior Lloyd Glasspool (6-4, 1-6, 6-4) and junior Soren Hess-Olesen (5-6, 6-1, 6-4).

But before it reached the semifinals, Texas fell 2-4 to the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday. Glasspool led Texas by giving the team its first point in his match against Chris Diaz (6-2, 6-5) that tied the dual at 1-1.

Ohio then took three straight victories over Texas, bringing the score to 4-2. Texas kept its consistency in score Sunday, downing No. 11 California 4-2 in consolation.

—Brianna Holt

Women’s track and field back up No. 1 ranking in split meets

When a team secures the top spot in the national ranking, it usually has no place to go but down. But last weekend at the Tyson Invitational in Arkansas and the Iowa State Classic, the top-ranked Longhorn track and field women’s team somehow managed to do just that, improving its national standing in several events.

At the Iowa State Classic, senior Sara Sutherland positioned herself to qualify for indoor nationals in the 5,000 meters with a second place finish of 15 minutes, 53.98 seconds. The time is good for eighth best time in the nation. 

In Arkansas, the 4x400-meter relay team of Kendall Baisden, Briana Nelson, Courtney Okolo and Ashley Spencer continued its recent dominance. Finishing four seconds ahead of runner-up Texas Tech, Texas snatched a nation-leading time of 3 minutes, 30.12 seconds. 

Next weekend, the Longhorns take a well-earned bye in order to prepare for the Big 12 Indoor Championships. The championships will be at Iowa State Feb. 28 – March 1.

—Daniel Clay

Bilderback bests own 400-meter as No. 13 men's track and field moves closer to Big 12 Championships

In its final competition before the Big 12 conference meet in two weeks, the men’s track and field team split up over the weekend, sending distance runners to Ames, Iowa, for the Iowa State Classic while the rest of the team traveled to Arkansas for the Tyson Invitational.

As the regular season comes to a close, the Longhorns aim to solidify their spots on Texas’ final 26-man conference meet roster. From there, each must finish with a top-16 national placement in his event to qualify for the national championships.

The No. 13 Longhorns had several impressive performances, but none more so than that of Zack Bilderback. The sophomore ran a new personal best of 46.47 in the 400 meters, a time that not only placed him third in the race at the Tyson Invitational but also moved him from 27th to No. 12 on the national qualifying list. 

With another impressive race at the conference meet, Bilderback may be able to lock in a spot in the national meet.

—Grant Gordon

The Longhorns took 12 matches to tiebreak decisions, but experienced few victories at the Miami Spring Invite.

Over the course of the three-day event, the team won six of the 30 matches it competed in. Half of those wins came Friday, as sophomore Breaunna Addison, senior Elizabeth Begley and freshman Ratnika Batra won their singles matches against Memphis.

Six of the Longhorns’ seven singles matches against No. 9 Miami on Saturday went to three sets.

After sweeping Memphis’ Alyssa Hibberd on Day 1, No. 22 Addison lost in three sets to No. 64 Kelsey Laurente the next day.

First semester freshman Neda Koprcina helped pick up two of Texas’ six wins. She defeated Clementina Riobueno in a third-set tiebreaker 10-8 for her first collegiate victory.

Then, on Sunday, Koprcina teamed up with Begley and won in doubles against a Memphis duo. It was the Longhorns’ lone win Sunday and second doubles victory at the invitational.

The meet offered Texas a look at No. 16 Vanderbilt, whom they will face at home in February. The Longhorns struggled victory-wise as the Commodores swept all 10 matches.

Texas begins the dual-match season with 10 straight non-conference home matches. Their first opponent will be UT-San Antonio on Wednesday.  

Senior Elizabeth Begley and junior Lina Padegimaite defended their home turf in doubles play Sunday, a week after they were shut out in Portland, Ore.

They advanced to the finals of the Longhorn Invitational after receiving a first-round bye and defeated two Wichita State tandems.

The two played against Rice’s Natalie Beazant and Stephanie Nguyen in the finals. After taking a 6-5 lead in the match, they broke Rice’s serve and held their own to win 8-6.

The win followed Saturday’s matches, which set Begley against Nguyen in the consolation singles round and Padegimaite versus Beazant in the singles quarterfinals. Begley won her match, while Padegimaite lost hers (3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6)).

At the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships, sophomore Breaunna Addison and freshman Pippa Horn lost 8-5 to Louisville’s Julia Fellerhoff and Rebecca Shine in the first round.

Addison also dropped a top-ten matchup against No. 9 Julia Elbaba of Virginia after she made the singles draw as a wildcard.

Both events end the fall season for the Longhorns, who will begin the spring season mid-January at the Miami Invite.

The Longhorns brought four players to Portland for this weekend’s USTA College Invitational but failed to win a match.

On Friday, senior Elizabeth Begley and junior Lina Padegimaite lost in doubles to UCLA’s Courtney Dolehide and Catherine Harrison (8-5).

Padegimaite contested Duke’s Alyssa Smith in singles but lost 7-5, 6-7 (6), 7-5. Junior Annat Rabinovich and sophomore Lana Groenvynck lost in straight sets.

Saturday was the same for Texas. Of the four matches the Longhorns competed in, they won only one set, which Padegimaite earned, giving her two for the weekend.

Begley was the only Longhorn to compete on Sunday and dropped a 6-2, 6-2 decision to Texas A&M’s Anna Mamalat.

The team will have to regroup in time for the Longhorn Invitational this week. Texas will also send two players, sophomore Breaunna Addison and freshman Pippa Horn, to New York on Thursday to compete in the ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championship.

The Longhorns head to Fort Worth today for the ITA Texas Regional Championship.  Schools from all over Texas will compete to prove who is the best of the Lone Star State.

This event gives senior Elizabeth Begley a chance to make up for her quick exit two weeks ago in Los Angeles. The Houston native failed to win a match in her first appearance of the season. 

At last year’s Texas Regional she advanced to the Round of 32 before Rice’s Natalie Beazant eliminated her in straight sets.

Junior Annat Rabinovich, another native of Houston, lost in the first round of the main draw last year but won two straight matches and advanced to the quarterfinals of the consolation bracket.

Competitive performances against teams from around Texas — including Big 12 rivals Texas Tech and Baylor — over the next five days could give an indication of what the season will look like for Texas.

“We’re going to have an incredible lineup for sure,” Rabinovich said. “I think we’re going to do really well, maybe just as good as or even better than last year.”

Texas set for the Lone Star State showdown

The Longhorns head to Fort Worth on Wednesday for the ITA Texas Regional Championship. Schools from all over Texas will compete to prove who the best of the Lone Star State is.

This event gives senior Elizabeth Begley a chance to make up for her quick exit two weeks ago in Los Angeles. The Houston native failed to win a match in her first appearance of the season.

At last year’s Texas Regional, Begley advanced to the Round of 32 before Rice’s Natalie Beazant eliminated her in
straight sets.

Junior Annat Rabinovich, another native of Houston, lost in the first round of the main draw last year but won two straight matches and advanced to the quarterfinals of the
consolation bracket.

Competitive performances against teams from around Texas — including Big-12 rivals Texas Tech and Baylor — over the next five days could give an indication of what the season will look like for Texas.

“We’re going to have an incredible lineup for sure,” Rabinovich said. “I think we’re going to do really well, maybe just as good as or even better than
last year.” 

—Chris Caraveo


Brooke Gilbert earns Big 12 weekly honor

Junior defender Brooke Gilbert was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday after her performance in the Longhorns’ 2-1 win over Baylor last week. The award is the first of Gilbert’s career. Gilbert played in her 14th career-complete game and buoyed the Longhorns’ effectiveness on defense as the team held Baylor scoreless for 86 minutes. On the offensive side of the ball, Gilbert narrowly missed heading in a goal on a corner kick in the 48th minute of the match.  

Gilbert has played in all but 10 minutes for the Longhorns this season while also scoring four goals on offense. 

Photo Credit: Debby Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

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.”

Longhorns Aerial Ellis and Breaunna Addison both entered the ITA National Team Indoors with a 5-0 record in singles play, but continuing their perfect streaks proved to be difficult.

Ellis overcame Georgia’s Lauren Herring at No. 1 singles to claim the match (4-6, 6-0, 6-2). The win continued her undefeated streak for the moment.

Meanwhile, Addison had a rough time with No. 18 Maho Kowase. Competitive during her 5-0 mark, she lost her first match in straight sets (1-6, 1-6).  

Texas eventually lost to Georgia 2-4 for the second straight time at this event. The loss sent them to the consolation round against Texas A&M.

Addison and Ellis both won on Saturday, but not in singles play. Addison and teammate Noel Scott claimed an 8-6 upset win over No. 7 Stancu-Hristov while Ellis and Elizabeth Begley won their match, giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead over the Aggies.

Ellis lost her first singles match this season against No. 3 Sanchez-Quintanar (2-6, 2-6). Addison followed with a straight set loss, her second loss in as many days as the Longhorns dropped another match 2-4.

Sunday against Alabama, Ellis beat No. 12 Mary Anne Macfarlane (6-4, 6-4), moving to 7-1 on the season. Addison collected her only singles win of the weekend against No. 13 Alexa Guarachi.

Despite their success on Sunday, the Longhorns lost to the Crimson Tide 3-4, putting them 0-3 for the weekend.

The Longhorns have two weeks to recoup before they head up north to face Big 10 opponents Northwestern and Michigan.