It was a gift, her talent for playing tennis. It took her to Germany to train for a potential professional career while in high school, and to Hawaii for a college career and a degree.
And to win a national title in her final season at Brigham Young-Hawaii? Elwen Li Boud sees it as fulfilling both her dream and, more importantly, her responsibility to the Seasiders.
"It would mean a lot to win; it’s our last chance," said Li Boud, who is undefeated this year in both singles (16-0) and doubles (17-0 with Yuan Jia). "I want to help the team. We have come so close."
The Seasiders (22-0), ranked No. 2 nationally, have finished second twice and third once at the NCAA D-II Tournament in Li Boud’s first three seasons. They are a combined 109-3 heading into this week’s PacWest championship, where the Seasiders are the defending champs, the top seed and the host.
A few things have changed for Li Boud since being named MVP in last April’s PacWest championship. She married Ben Boud last June in the Salt Lake Temple and is playing this week as a college graduate, having received her diploma this past Saturday. The double major (biology and exercise science) graduated with her husband and with a 3.93 grade-point average.
"She’s been a dream student and player, everything a coach could ask for," BYUH coach David Porter said. "My goodness. She had a 3.93, lost three singles and five doubles matches in four years. She plays hard, she wins, she has been a great citizen on campus."
Li Boud said there is some pressure to win a national title, this being her final season.
"But I’ve enjoyed this year more," she said. "This week will be tough. The (PacWest) teams are better than last year, the competition will be tougher than it has been."
Win or lose, her tennis career will be over next month. She and her husband — a fellow science major she met in lab — will move to Utah, where she hopes to continue her medical studies and become a doctor.
"I have enjoyed Hawaii," Li Boud said. "The best thing? The people."