The 2005 Michigan Invitational fast became the Elizabeth Exon Show.
After a strong start Friday, in which she won her singles and doubles matches, rank Exon continued her impressive play on Saturday when she took to the court for her best match of the weekend. Facing Georgia Tech’s Kelly Anderson, Exon knew she was in for a battle because of Anderson’s national ranking. The two traded winners and long rallies, matching each other shot for shot. Neither could gain the advantage and the first set went to a tiebreaker.
True to her style, Exon outlasted Anderson in a long rally to take the first set tiebreaker, 7-5. Exon’s solid play and never-ending endurance proved to be too much for Anderson, who was unable to sustain the intensity that had made the first set such a thriller.
Exon took the second set, 6-3, which added another victory to her weekend.
“I am playing smarter,” Exon said. “I am being patient and waiting for my opportunities to attack instead of overhitting and trying to force things that aren’t there. I feel really good out on the court — like I could stay out there all day long.”
The win was even more impressive considering how dominant Georgia Tech was all weekend, taking 21 of their 23 singles matches.
Anderson got a small measure of revenge on Sunday as she teamed up with Lyndsay Sosho to defeat Exon and Yaftali, 8-6, in a hotly contested doubles match for Exon’s only blemish on the weekend.
Exon, a sophomore from Irvine, entered the weekend having finished the 2004 season ranked 10th in the ITA Midwest regional. She started Friday morning with a solid victory over LSU’s Lauren Seaman. Exon took the first set 6-3 and headed into the second set with the momentum. Seaman put up a great fight in the second set and pushed it to a tiebreaker. But Exon only got better as the pressure mounted. Confident in her abilities, she won the second set tiebreaker, 7-4.
“Tiebreakers are so decisive,” Exon said. “I just tried to stay relaxed and be aggressive at the same time. I didn’t want to sit back and hope (Seaman) would make a mistake.”
Later that day Exon teamed with junior Nina Yaftali, another Californian. The west coast combo rolled to an, 8-1, victory over Eastern Michigan’s Catherina Bestahorn and Flavia Micati.
On Saturday morning the tandem again combined for victory, overpowering LSU’s Camila Caliari and Marina Chiarelli, 8-0.
Overall, the Wolverines finished the weekend 12-9 in singles matches (5-2 against LSU, 2-7 against Georgia Tech and 5-0 against Eastern Michigan), and 6-3 in doubles play (2-1, 2-2 and 2-0 respectively). The invitational featured what is known as a hidden dual match format, which means that matches count for individual records but team records are not kept.
The Wolverines face the DePaul Blue Demons on January 15th.