Leading By Example

Feb. 16, 2010

Elisabeth Fournier has come a long way from being a five year old with a tiny orange racket just hoping to make contact with the tennis ball.

In the not even two years Fournier has been at Washington State University, the Ottawa, Canada native has already made her mark as one of the top players on the team, as well as a leader on this year's young squad. Although she is humble and hesitant to acknowledge her leadership role, she admits she is a hard worker, on and off the court.

'I feel like it wasn't an intentional thing, like 'Oh I want to be a leader'. I ended up being entrusted with that because people knew I'd try hard all the time,' Fournier said. 'I'm one of those people that likes to put in everything they have. If I'm in the classroom then all I care about is what I am studying, and if I am on the court, that all I care about too.'

If Fournier isn't sure about the scale of the leadership role she has taken on, Head Coach Lisa Hart is.

'The thing about Liz is she is so high up in the line-up and she's undefeated right now in dual matches. She is taking care of business and I think that rubs off on the younger players. We always know we will get 100 percent effort from Liz,' Hart said, 'Working hard is part of leadership.'

Fournier's drive is obvious on the court. Last year she played the majority of the season at No.3 singles and posted a team-best 22-15 record as a freshman. Building on her success from last year, Fournier has started this season undefeated with an 8-0 record.

Fournier also hopes to build on the challenges presented to the team last season. The young team is diverse and everyone brings a lot of different perspectives to the table, Fournier says. Although the team didn't do as well as they'd hoped to last season, Fournier notes that over half the team is new and have positively changed the atmosphere.

'We're a whole unit, and that is really important,' she said. 'Even though we have so many freshmen, everybody leads on the team and everyone is able to step it up when they have to. There is so much more energy this year. The new players have so much spark and a willingness to try anything. I feel like that's something we'll be able to grow on.'.'

Fournier has been right so far. Although the team was 8-17 last year, this season, the team's growth has been clear in their first eight matches. The Cougs are 6-2 so far into her sophomore season, with the two losses to nationally-ranked teams.

'Liz plays a huge role in the continued improvement of the team, probably a bigger part than she understands, not only on the court but off, 'Hart said.

Fournier has been playing tennis since she was five, but it didn't become a passion of hers until age sixteen. Although she dreamed of playing professional tennis at that age, she realized the most realistic next step was collegiate tennis. That's where WSU came in.

Fournier said her last two official visits were to WSU and Boise State, after which she mentioned how glad she is she stayed here. The pride of being a Cougar, as well as the coaching staff, drew Fournier in.

For Fournier, the differences from being an athlete in America compared to Canada have allowed her to flourish as a tennis player.

'In Canada, we like hockey. There is not much money going into Canadian tennis, 'she said,' People try to develop professional athletes, not high level athletes. Here, there are so many athletes and they care about everybody and that's something I had never lived with.'

Now, the prospect of helping her team to the next level has left her excited for what is to come.

'I'd love it if the team made it to NCAAs. I know we can do it and we have a strong team. I feel like we will keep building throughout the season, and next year as well.'

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