Hamilton (left) and Kompa (right) celebrate a point against Xavier. Photo courtesy of Brad Puckett.
After enduring an 0-12 season cut short by COVID-19 last spring, sophomores Elizabeth Hamilton, Paige Kompa and Erica Wojcikiewicz were determined to change the UD women’s tennis culture they experienced.
The trio have been catalysts for the team’s improvement this season as the Flyers ended their losing streak that dated back before the teammates arrived on campus. The sophomores also led the team to back-to-back wins versus Saint Francis and Bellarmine for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Last season’s woes are well documented and known to head coach Erica Echko and the players.
“Last year I thought was really depressing as far as not getting any wins,” Echko said.
The team turned things around quickly this season as it steamrolled Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis 7-0 on Feb. 12.
“A lot of our returning players were really ready for this season because COVID cut it short,” Kompa said. “We all came back really hungry this year which has impacted the team in a big way.”
Until this season, winning was a foreign feeling for the sophomores.
“I was like, ‘guys did we just win?’ There was a sense of relief and it made us believe in ourselves going into the rest of our matches,” Hamilton said.
Believing in each other and finding their spot in the lineup have boosted the trio’s confidence. The sophomores account for nearly half of the team’s singles wins and 75 percent of the doubles wins.
“I’m just not as nervous and anxious on the court this year,” Wojcikiewicz said. “I put so much pressure on doing well last year. Being able to play knowing your coach trusts you has allowed me to be more confident.”
Wojcikiewicz returning a volley against Duquesne. Photo courtesy of Puckett.
Wojcikiewicz’s lack of nerves has shown in her performance this season. She owns the team best 9-6 record in singles and won Atlantic 10 Women’s Tennis Performer of the Week on Feb. 16.
“If you start to win early, you gain confidence,” Echko said.
This is true for Hamilton, too. Last season, she only played two singles matches outside of a tournament. This season, the Northern Kentucky native has been inserted into the two- and three-lines. Additionally, she and Kompa have a 9-6 doubles record.
“After seeing what Paige and I can do at practice and matches, I knew we could be a really good team together,” Hamilton said.
“We have so much fun out there. Honestly, it’s less about tennis and more about just having fun when we’re together (Kompa and Hamilton). I think it shows because we are 100 times looser than any other team we play,” Kompa said.
According to Hamilton, Kompa and Wojcikiewicz, their chemistry stems from rooming together.
“We’re all so close that our coach makes a comment that we’re a clique because we’re always together,” the performer of the week said. “You’d think we’d get sick of one another because we spend so much time with each other, but we really don’t. We’re all best friends.”
“This year we have all gotten closer just with getting ready for matches together, putting on Alexa to get us pumped up and driving to the matches together. We’ve all gotten really close and rely on each other now,” Kompa said.
This chemistry and mix of personalities with the other teammates have created a stronger team.
“Our mixture of personalities helps our team. We have some who are quieter,” Echko said. “Paige and Claire Ghidotti (junior) are a little louder and more outgoing compared to Erica, Elizabeth or Kelly Pleiman (senior) who are quieter. It’s a nice mixture.”
Echko says the sophomores and Pleiman are the leaders of the team. Since the sophomores account for a third of the roster, they have taken it upon themselves to lead by example and be good teammates.
“Kelly has done a good job leading the team, but I also think Elizabeth, Erica and I have definitely been leading the team considering we are higher in the lineup,” Kompa said. “We have a lot of tough matches and are on the court the longest. We just try to show our teammates that we can keep fighting because usually we are the last ones playing.”
“We just try to have fun with one another and not take it too seriously,” Hamilton said.