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The Indiana Daily Student

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‘Sky’s the limit’: Elisabeth Dunac’s potential on full display for Indiana women’s tennis

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In December 2022, Elisabeth Dunac sat down with her mom, Sedene, in their Florida apartment and evaluated her options. The 5-star prospect was set on either Indiana or Penn State, the decision depending on which university would best support her academic and athletic goals. Ultimately, Dunac chose to become a Hoosier rather than a Nittany Lion. 

“It felt like an easy decision to make,” Dunac said in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student. “The coaches were so nice, it felt really welcoming on the visit. The academics were also at a good level, so all-around it was a good fit.” 

It’s fair to say neither Dunac nor the Hoosiers are regretting that decision, as she started a team-best 9-2 in singles in her first collegiate season. 

“I was really impressed [by] Elisabeth from a very early time in her recruitment,” Indiana assistant coach Austin Roebuck said Feb. 23. “We’re thrilled to have her here because she’s obviously blossoming into the player that I thought she could be.” 

Dunac hails from Cabin John, Maryland, a quaint town right outside of Washington, D.C. with a population of around 2,200. Her older brother Daniel, now a junior on the Howard University men’s tennis team, was the first to introduce her to tennis. Dunac was always around the courts with him, hitting balls and picking them up to build pyramids. She was also drawn to the sport through watching the effortless and fun nature in which 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams played. 

Throughout her recruitment years, Dunac dealt with a lot of change. The biggest occurred in Jan. 2021, when she moved to Florida with Sedene to receive more intensive training while her father, Donald, stayed behind to continue working.  

That August, Dunac transitioned to competing in tournaments through the Universal Tennis Rating — a newer league that allowed her to compete on weekends against top talent in high school, college and even the pros. Shortly thereafter, she moved to the UTR Pro Tennis Tour, which featured week-long tournaments instead of weekends against even tougher competition. 

The transition was tough on Dunac as the first few tournaments didn’t go the way she had hoped. However, Roebuck spotted something while recruiting her in-person that ascended past her inconsistent results. 

“I saw a level of athleticism you can’t really coach,” Roebuck said. “She’s still surprising us everyday with the things that she can do.” 

After hearing the report Roebuck gave on Dunac, Indiana head coach Ramiro Azcui knew immediately that he had to get her on the team. It wasn’t long after the recruiting began that Dunac had her first on-campus visit. In that one visit, Azcui identified Dunac as a character fit through the interactions she had with her family. 

“Her family was such a tennis family, very supportive,” Azcui said Feb. 23. “The way I treat my program is kinda like a family as well. It really blended in so well, and I felt like she was gonna fit in our program extremely well. It was such a great feeling to see how much the family was behind her.” 

Dunac’s family has played an integral role in shaping her tennis career, specifically her parents. She credits them as doing everything necessary for her to be where she is, including moving to different areas to receive the best coaching or driving her to tournaments that were 12 to 16 hours away. 

Dunac’s parents also instilled an emphasis on familial values, something she brings with her now that she is a part of Azcui’s ‘family.’ Because of her infectious personality, everyone on the team enjoys her company, Azcui said, and coaches want her present when they host recruits on visits. 

Dunac’s positive attitude is also reflected in her ability to learn, adapt and succeed. After a disappointing fall season for Indiana, she took time to reflect. 

What she found was that she had spent quite some time focusing on whether she would be included in the lineup, leading to moments in practice where she would cry on the court after bad sets and hope it wouldn’t cost her place in the lineup. 

After those worries were squashed when Azcui told the team that every freshman would get chances through a rotation, she decided a mentality change was necessary. 

“That just flipped a switch in my head to focus on your match and if you play, you play,” Dunac said. “You don’t have any control over how the lineup is going to be set so just focus on what you can do instead of the uncontrollables.” 

It’s clear that Dunac has effectively flipped that switch. 

While not every situation has been dealt with flawlessly — consider her 6-1, 6-2 loss to Iowa on March 2 — she has shown her capability in adapting on the fly, most obvious in her match against the University of Colorado. Her tennis abilities have a part to play, Roebuck said, but her mindset is the true backbone of her success. 

“She’s gonna be the type of person that is super reliable at all times,” Roebuck said. “She just kinda lets things roll off her back which is really important in an individual sport like tennis. She doesn’t get too high, she doesn’t get too low. Her attitude is always a little bit beyond her years.” 

Roebuck believes Dunac’s attitude coupled with her talent level will carry her a long way. He claims this season is only a start — becoming an All-American and even the pursuit of a professional career are waiting in future. 

But those are just possibilities. Roebuck would rather Dunac focus on the present and continue to grow and improve as a player. 

“I almost hesitate to say what I think Elisabeth could be because I don’t want to scare her into thinking how good I think she could be,” Roebuck said. “If Elisabeth really wants to go to a high level, I know that she can because of her talent level.” 

Ultimately, Azcui knows that Dunac’s success will only be determined by one person — herself. 

“I think she just needs to keep developing, she just needs to keep growing,” Azcui said. “I know it’s a little corny to say, ‘the sky’s the limit,’ but she has a lot of potential. I think she’s really gonna go very high.”

Follow reporter Mateo Fuentes-Rohwer (@mateo_frohwer) for updates through the Indiana women’s tennis season.

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