Saints get over the hump, win first CCAC Tournament
Annika Herko | Friday, May 19, 2023
This year has been exceptional for Holy Cross Women’s Tennis. In the fifth year of the program (not counting a two-game 2020 season that was shortened due to COVID), the team went 12-8, ranked in the top 20 and won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament on April 28th.
“The last few years have been pretty good. The first couple years of the program were pretty rough. We didn’t win a single match, but then year three we made the conference championship. Year four was pretty good last year as well,” said Coach Eric Mahone of the team’s history leading up to their victory in the conference finals.
The team only lost once in the month of April. The team fell in a close game on April 11th, 4-3, to the University of St. Francis. However, they would redeem themselves as they beat this same team to win the championship 4-0. The team earned an automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament as a result. However, they were beaten 4-0 by No. 15 Loyola University in their first game there.
In the CCAC Final, the team won all three doubles matches. Junior Kia Carvalho-Landell, junior Anna Beer and senior Clara Ruediger won in their singles match-ups. Carvalho-Landell and junior Helga Lopez, who competed for the Saints in that match, finished the year as one of the country’s top doubles pairing. Freshman Victoria Savvides was also excellent in singles play. All three of them could be named All-Americans.
The leadership from the captains, Anna Beer and junior Diane Maillotte, has really made a difference in the play Coach Mahone has seen out of his team this year.
“They’re kind of the glue that kept our team together and then they kind of built this culture where you have eight women that are all pulling for each other. They’re all best friends and there’s no drama at all, which I can’t say about previous teams,” said Mahone.
Because the team has so many juniors, it has really given them an opportunity to get into the details of the game and their experience has allowed them to have minimal off-court distractions.
“It makes my job a lot easier because [the team] is always prepared. They’re mentally really strong, are very mature, and great academically. We don’t have to deal with kind of the struggles that you do in general with freshmen and sophomores that are just adjusting to school. ln our case, a lot of [our underclassman] are in a new country and have all the pitfalls normal freshman and sophomores go through and that we did have in previous years but we haven’t had that. Our freshman is actually maybe even the most mature girl on our team. It’s been fantastic … from a coaching standpoint this is one of the easiest teams I’ve ever coached,” Mahone said.