Virginia freshman Julia Elbaba has been selected to compete in the upcoming NCAA Individual Championships, which will be held May 22-27 at the University of Illinois. Seeded No. 9-16 in the tournament, she becomes the first Virginia women's player to be seeded at the event.
Elbaba, from Oyster Bay, N.Y., is ranked No. 12 in the country and leads the Cavaliers with a 33-9 overall record and a 17-7 mark in dual action. Her 33 victories established a new UVa record for first-year players and ties her for second on the Cavaliers’ single-season wins list. This season, she advanced to the final of the ITA All-American in October and achieved a school-record No. 4 singles ranking on Jan. 3 on the way to earning All-Atlantic Coast Conference and ACC Freshman of the Year honors.
In the latest USTA.com College Spotlight, Elbaba discusses her decision to attend Virginia, her favorite thing about college tennis and more.
USTA: You were a top recruit in your graduating class. What made you choose Virginia?
Julia Elbaba: When I was looking at schools during the recruitment process, I wanted to find a place that could help me get to the next level in my tennis while obtaining an excellent education. I really loved the way [head coach] Mark [Guilbeau] and [associate head coach] Troy [Porco] worked with the girls on court, along with the fitness training in the gym. Plus, the team is so supportive and hardworking. I believe UVa offers the full package.
USTA: What is your favorite thing about college tennis?
Julia Elbaba: The first week of class, Mark asked me what some of my goals were. I told him that one of my goals was to become an independent student-athlete. I really feel like I’m able to do this because there is so much support. It’s also great to be able to be around other athletes in all different sports who want to be successful.
USTA: What are the major differences between junior tennis and college tennis?
Julia Elbaba: In college tennis, you’re no longer playing for yourself; you’re playing for a team. Another difference is that players are allowed to be coached during a match, which I really like. Mark and Troy have noticed things in our matches that we wouldn’t have been able to figure out on our own, which will definitely get us to the next level.
USTA: What is the best thing about Virginia and being a Cavalier?
Julia Elbaba: UVa has one of the nicest campuses and buildings in the country. It feels great to be able to represent women’s tennis with my team. Go HOOS!
USTA: How do you balance tennis and academics?
Julia Elbaba: Balancing college schoolwork and tennis is probably one of the toughest tasks I have ever faced. As a perfectionist, I want to excel in each area. It’s really important to stay in touch with your professors and not be afraid to talk to them. And most of them love women’s tennis. I constantly tell myself that I’m just going to try my best.
USTA: What advice do you have for junior tennis players who want to play in college?
Julia Elbaba: My biggest piece of advice is to know what you want before you go to college and to make sure you choose a school that is the best fit for you. College is nothing like you expect it to be. With each day comes a new obstacle, but these are the things that make you a stronger individual.