WINTER PARK, Fla. -- Barry University freshman Elisabeth Abanda (Montreal, Quebec) was named the Sunshine State Conference women's tennis Player of the Week presented by VALIC.
Abanda beat No. 4 nationally-ranked Kristina Huba of Florida Tech Saturday, 6-2, 2-6, 10-5, at No. 1 singles in her first college match. She and longtime doubles partner in the junior circuit Emma Onila defeated Huba and Stephanie Dohner, 8-2, at No. 1 doubles.
"My initial thought was not to lose the first match of the season," Abanda said. "I knew if I could start well, this win would give me a lot of confidence, and it did. It made a huge difference."
Abanda and Onila had to sit out last year after enrolling at Barry. So her first chance to compete on the college level was long anticipated.
"I think she played pretty well in her first collegiate match," Barry coach Avi Kigel said. "She really showed a lot of character and determination. There's a lot of confidence in her to be one of the top players in the country. We're looking forward to her getting better and better, and being a good contributor in singles and doubles."
After dropping the second set to even the match with Huba, the ITA South Region champion in the fall, Abanda was re-energized by the support of her teammates.
"The difference in the super tiebreaker in the third set because I had the only match left, everyone from the women's and men's teams came to watch," Abanda said. "That really helped. I felt like I was playing for more than just myself. Usually, I've been used to playing in tournaments when I am the only one there. This was different, and I liked it. It really felt like a team."
Abanda welcomed the test of playing one of the best players in the country to begin her collegiate career.
"I was excited to play her because I always think the only way you're going to get to one, two or three is if you get to play against them," she said. "I was ready for this challenge.
"It was a different atmosphere than playing in a tournament for me, so in my head, I was just like, 'Play like you know how to play.' I was just being aggressive and fighting."
To boot, she earned league-wide recognition from the get-go.
"I'm shocked," Abanda said. "I'm happy that I get the recognition for beating the No. 4 girl in the country, especially since I came from nowhere. I didn't get to compete in the fall. I know the top three of every team is decent so I always have to be on my game.
"I can't wait to play at home. It's a different feeling winning at home."
The Buccaneers play at No. 2 Embry-Riddle in Daytona Beach Feb. 15. Barry's first home match is Feb. 16 against Florida Southern.