Beazant rallies past Texas' Ellis to earn Rice's first All-America honor since '86
URBANA, Ill. -- One point from elimination, Natalie Beazant spoiled numerous potential winning shots and pulled off a third-set comeback to down Texas' Aeriel Ellis 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 to advance to the Round of 16 at the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Singles Championship.
By advancing to the Round of 16, Beazant earned Rice's first All-American honor in women's tennis since Wendy Wood in 1986. Beazant will be looking to become the first Owl to advance to the quarterfinals when she faces North Carolina's Caroline Price on Friday.
"That was an extremely gutsy performance by Natalie [Beazant]," Rice head coach Elizabeth Schmidt said. "Ellis is a good competitor, a seasoned veteran and really stepped up her game when we moved indoors. But, down match point at 2-5, Nat really showed her trademark heart and fight. She truly earned her All-America status with that effort and now is looking forward to continuing on in this tournament."
Beazant had taken the first set 6-3 and was leading 2-1 with a break point on Ellis. Rain forced the match indoors, where Ellis turned the tables on Beazant, winning the second set 6-4.
"I wasn't playing the game I wanted to play when we first started indoors," Beazant said. "[Ellis] hit some big shots and really got on a role. I kept telling myself the whole time to 'Get this point' and kept my focus."
Ellis carried her momentum into the third set, sprinting to a 5-2 lead in the decisive third set and was one point from ending the match in the pivotal eighth game. Ellis launched a series of seemingly winning shots, but Beazant managed to keep the ball in play before winning the point.
"She made a lot of great shots and all I wanted to do was keep the point alive," Beazant said. "When it was 5-2, I told myself to just keep fighting and see what would happen. After that point, I started to get my game back together."