Up until last month, Flagler College had never won an ITA Division II Southwest Regional championship. Despite having placed athletes in the finals each of the last four years, the Flagler program remained title-less, and hungry for a singles crown.
That all changed on September 28. Luisa Hrda, a junior from Germany rewrote the Flagler College record books with a historic win over Ana Carla Resende of Carson-Newman University 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the championship of the Southwest Regional.
And while it was Hrda that etched her name in program history and faced each hard-fought battle by herself, Hrda made one thing very clear; this win was not for her, but for every teammate, coach and staff member that proudly bears the Flagler College emblem on their chest.
Now, it’s not that Hrda doesn’t deserve recognition. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Hrda was methodical as she bested each challenger without dropping a single set. So, while Hrda’s dominant performance was something to take pride in, each time Hrda was praised for her performance, she redirected each compliment to her teammates and coaches, instead of basking in it herself.
“I mean, of course I was super excited as soon as I won the last point, and I was just super happy for the school actually, because I knew, for example, my coach, he was waiting for this to happen.” said Hrda. “It wasn’t actually really about myself, but I was just so happy to see the girls’ faces and my coach’s impressions and how happy they were. It was individual, but at the same time if the girls wouldn’t be there cheering me on, I wouldn’t be able to win it.”
While the burden of the championship spotlight can prove heavy for some, Hrda entered the finals well prepared for the grit and grind of the high-caliber matchup, in large part, thanks to her coaching staff.
“Before the tournament even started, our coach actually gave us tips and the exact drills for situations like this,” said Hrda. “Whenever I started struggling, I always just remembered the words my coach was saying, and that actually helped me a lot.”
With her name etched in gold in the Flagler College history books, it would be easy for Hrda to become content with her regional performance. But despite her elation with the huge victory, Hrda has shifted her gaze to the future where she’ll represent the Saints at the ITA Cup, an opportunity that Hrda is grateful for.
“I’m a bit nervous, but at the end, I’m just happy to be here,” said Hrda. “I just want to take it as a learning opportunity and then see how far I’ll go. Of course, the dream is to win it, but at the same time, I just really appreciate being there.”
Full of heart and as humble as they come, Hrda looks to make even more program history at the ITA Cup, which kicks off on October 14 at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.