Making Strokes and Setting Records in College Tennis

By Chris Anders

For the first time in collegiate tennis history, Xavier University of Louisiana women’s tennis team is ranked first among all Historically Black College and University Programs. The Gold Nuggets, led by New Orleans native Lacee Ancar, captured the HBCU National Tennis Championship on Sept. 22, 2018 – by one point. Ancar has been on the tennis team for three years going through many ups and downs. But it has been her hard work and determination that has allowed her to help the team succeed.

“She has been excellent,” said Alan Green, Xavier’s tennis coach. “Her freshman year she made an instant impact playing both singles and doubles but last year her sophomore year she was sidelined with a shoulder injury and really developed into a vocal leader,” Green said about Ancar’s impact.

In the past two-seasons she has matured a lot, Green added. Ancar not only won two matches on that weekend that proved to be vital but was also extremely vocal while cheering on her team in the last matches of the tournament.

“It is truly an honor to represent Xavier at the HBCU National Championship and come away a winner,” Ancar said after the team’s victory. “Especially since tennis is a predominantly White sport,” Ancar said proudly of the job her team has done.

She doesn’t have far to look at a professional level these days for inspiration. Along with Ancar’s success at the collegiate level, there are currently five African-American women ranked in the top 100 in the world for women’s tennis including her role model Serena Williams.

“Of course, the one and only Serena Williams inspired me to get serious with tennis. Serena is such an icon and great role model. Especially for young African-American women who are trying to play the sport,” Ancar said hoping that more African-American women play and enjoy the game. The sport has taught her not just discipline, but how to be a true teammate and supporter for other women.

“Trying to be a leader to me wasn’t that hard,” Ancar said. “A lot of the teammates I have had are from other countries and didn’t speak English well or were new to New Orleans so helping them out on and off the court has helped mold me into a leader you could say,” Ancar said.

Being a role model is in Ancar’s nature, her teammates said, and is a large part to why they are ranked number one. Playing at John Curtis High School in River Ridge, Ancar got an early start with being a leader. All four years of high school she was the team’s top singles player making it to the Louisiana State Championship Tournament every year. You could say tennis has come easy to Ancar since the first time she picked up a racquet at 4 years old.

“From the day I stepped on the court Lacee has been there. Not just for me, for all of us. Whether her giving us a ride to Walmart late at night or giving us a pep talk after a bad match,” said Julia Anglin, a freshman on the tennis team. “She is without a doubt the back bone of this team that helps us all work together as a unit,” Anglin said complementing Ancar’s leadership skills.

Not only do her teammates and coach notice a change in Ancar but her mom does as well.

“It has been a pleasure watching Lacee transform from a junior tennis player to a collegiate player. It just shows how hard work has paid off,” said Coretta Ancar, Lacee’s mother. “And being the number one HBCU team in the country is the icing on the cake,” Coretta Ancar said on the recent success of her daughter and her team. For this year’s team, Ancar’s goal is to win another national championship in May 2019, which would be another first for Xavier. She also hopes to win at least 20 singles and doubles matches.

“Making history at Xavier feels amazing but by the time the year is over, I want to be holding another trophy that makes us the number one team in all of the country not just HBCU tennis,” Ancar said while smiling and holding he HBCU National Championship Trophy high in the air.

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