Underdogs still standing
Addison, Guarachi make improbable march into semis
URBANA, Ill. -- Earning the top seed in an NCAA tournament is a great honor, but that doesn’t mean too much when the best players in the country converge in one place and are all vying to win the championship crown.
“I feel like seeds are kind of irrelevant. There are some sleepers in this tournament and as long as you go out there and are hitting your shots and you are just focusing and staying positive anyone can win this tournament,” Texas' Breaunna Addison said.
Addison, a freshman, and Alabama senior Alexa Guarachi are proof of that. Both are unseeded and both are heading into the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Singles Tennis Championship.
“It’s a great accomplishment. I’m honored to be [at the tournament]. It’s just one point at a time. That’s what I have been doing and not really thinking too far ahead of myself,” Guarachi said.
Guarachi defeated Rice’s Natalie Beazant 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinals. Beazant was also unseeded in the tournament.
“[Us being here] shows that seeding isn’t everything. I think it comes down to how we play and what we bring [to the court],” Beazant said.
Despite the loss, Beazant is proud of herself for making it to the quarterfinals. She is the only female tennis player from Rice to make it past the Round of 16.
Addison is also pleased with her performance thus far. She is the first Longhorn to reach the semifinal round since Kelly Pace in 1995.
“I didn’t have any expectations coming into this tournament. I just felt like I’m a good player and if I believe in myself I can play with some of the better players in this country,” she said.
Addison defeated North Carolina’s seventh-seeded Gina Suarez-Malaguti 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 in a match that lasted three hours.
“I just tried to stay mentally tough … I know [Suarez- Malaguti] has played some tough matches, as well,” Addison said. “I felt like I was starting to get ahead of myself. In the first set, I was up 5-3 and I [ended up losing]. I just tried to make sure that I could do the things I could control and that I was just moving my feet.”
Guarachi also had to rally after losing the second set to Beazant. Like Addison, she focused on winning the match bit-by-bit, point-by-point.
“It was my energy that pushed me for the win. I had to make sure I worked every single point. I couldn’t give any free points because [Beazant] could capitalize on it. I had to make sure that I worked for every point,” Guarachi said.
Addison considers herself lucky that she made it this far. At the beginning of her quarterfinal match, rain disrupted outdoor play, forcing the players to resume their matches indoors.
“It was a blessing, honestly. I don’t know if I would be here if we didn’t move inside,” Addison said. “I feel like I am a better indoor player than [Suarez-Malaguti] is, so I think that worked in my favor.”
Guarachi wants to continue her family legacy as an Alabama athlete, seed or no seed. Her father played tennis for Alabama and her great grandfather and uncle also played football for the Tide.
“I feel like I bleed Crimson. I don’t want my senior year to end just yet, so [I’m going to] keep going and I am excited to represent Alabama,” she said.