Published: April 28, 2016
History was made Sunday, as Emily Walsh of the women’s tennis team broke The University’s all-time record for most singles wins.
Walsh, a nursing major, broke the record Saturday against Drew University, winning her match 6-1, 6-1.
The new record set by Walsh is 48 wins, which supplants the former record of 47. The former record was held by Walsh’s former teammate Megan Azzalina, who graduated last year.
Walsh tied the record during the team’s April 17 match against Moravian College, needing just one victory to re-write the record books.
Entering the record-breaking match, Walsh said she was determined to keep her cool and not be overwhelmed by the magnitude that came from the possibility of breaking the record.
“I go into every match wanting to win, but there were obviously a lot more things I was thinking about, knowing if I won, I would break the school record,” Walsh said. “I definitely tried to stay focused on winning the match, as opposed to everything that would come from winning it.”
Although the record is axiomatically satisfying for Walsh, she noted the lack of amplified pressure will take some getting used to.
“I think breaking the record is good and bad,” Walsh said. “Now, there’s only the pressure to win for the team. That added pressure kind of drove me, knowing the number was there. But now without that pressure, I think I can go out and play more relaxed.”
Walsh noted while she is abundantly proud of her accomplishment, she thinks the impact it will have on the women’s tennis program may transcend any personal achievement.
“It’s still kind of surreal to realize my name is going to be at the top of the list,” Walsh said. “But I think it’s huge for the program as a whole. I feel like not many people know too much about tennis, so having someone make school history is going to make a lot more people pay attention to our team.”
As Walsh has mentioned previously, she maintains a close relationship with the aforementioned Azzalina. While the two have joked about the record, Walsh said she greatly appreciates her friend’s support.
“She’s texted me a few times,” Walsh said. “It’s funny, because when I tied the record she would say things like, ‘I’ve always loved sharing things with you.’ But her support has been so helpful, and I really appreciate it. She has told me there’s no one else she would rather see break her record, which means a lot coming from someone like her.”
Although Walsh now has the most singles victories in the history of The University, she did not always see that as an achievable goal.
Walsh said the record did not really seem entirely realistic until this year.
“I honestly didn’t even think about it until the beginning of this season,” Walsh said. “Toward the start of this season, I knew I wasn’t too far away from breaking it. I knew we only had a few conference opponents, but I wasn’t really thinking about it, because I didn’t want to put that pressure on myself. But obviously, the season went really well, and I realized it was more and more achievable as the season wore on.”
While breaking the record is a career-defining moment, Walsh said her peers have helped propel her to the upper echelon of women’s tennis at The University.
“They’ve been a huge help. The girls on the team and their support has meant everything to me,” Walsh said. “Our coach, from the beginning, gave me a ton of encouragement, which really helped me believe I could do this (break the record).”
Walsh continued that team-first mentality, saying there are much better ways to end the season than with a personal achievement.
“We’re always striving for more, and I think it would be great to get that (Landmark Conference) championship and win as a team,” Walsh said. “The team celebrated my accomplishment, but if we could all celebrate as a team, that would be even more special.”
The women’s tennis team has a good chance to end the season with a Landmark Conference championship, as the 12-5 team has not lost since March 23.
Walsh and the rest of the women’s tennis team will have their regular-season finale 1 p.m. Saturday at Elizabethtown College, before they take part in the Landmark Conference semifinals.
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