Sophomore Elizabeth Exon went back to her home state of
California on Tuesday to qualify in her first tournament of this
year: the Main Draw at the ITA All-American Championship. She was
ousted from the tournament with a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Georgia
Tech’s freshman Kristi Miller.

Exon acknowledged that she didn’t perform as well as she
could have, but realized what was lacking from her game.

“I’m pretty rusty, but now I know,” Exon

When put into this type of situation last year, Exon would allow
her emotions to get the best of her on the court, grunting in
frustration and asking herself “What are you doing?”
under her breath.

These emotional outbursts brought her focus to the negative
aspects of her game, rather than the positives. As a result, she
would sometimes lose tough matches. However, this year, her coaches
and parents are seeing a vast improvement.

“This tournament was great experience for (Exon), because
this was her first tournament since last year,” Michigan
assistant coach Katy Propstra said.

After the defeat Tuesday, Exon congratulated Miller with a
handshake and a smile. She accepted her defeat and used it as
motivation to improve. This year, instead of getting discouraged
following tough losses, she has tried to look change her

“Usually (Exon) is really negative and too down on herself
after a loss,” Elizabeth’s mother and energetic fan,
Marjie Exon, said. “I was so proud when she complimented her
opponent. Attitude and demeanor is an important part of the

Though Exon was disappointed by the defeat, she handled it with
a positive demeanor and used it as a basis to grow.

“I was a lot calmer in this tournament than I was in
tournaments last year,” Exon said. “Our tournament was
just about good tennis, but this was just one tournament,”
Exon said. “I hope I can maintain this positive attitude
throughout rest of the year.”

Propstra feels that this newfound level of maturity is important
for Exon, because it gives her motivation to get better.

“(Exon) is developing an all-court game all the while
maintaining her competitive spirit,” Propstra said.

In the Exon family, competitive spirit in tennis has always been
important. Two of Exon’s five siblings have played tennis on
the collegiate level: her older sister, Natalie, played for
California-Irvine and her brother, Chase, played for Cal.

“When it came down to possibly playing a sport, my dad
already had experience training Natalie and Chase, so I kinda
followed in their footsteps,” Exon said.

Because their father, Charlie, coached them, it was natural for
Exon to start playing tennis.

While Exon does not want to lose her competitive spirit, this
year she is striving for patience and a serious game plan going
into each meet. Instead of going for a winning shot too soon, she
wants to strategically plan each move she make on the court.

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