The Razorbacks are celebrating International Student Week Monday-Friday, Nov. 15-19. We will be highlighting a couple of our standout student-athletes who have embraced the challenges of school and athletics in the United States. They face many obstacles from language to food to customs and styles but all of them share one thing – they are Razorbacks.
FAYETTEVILLE –Senior Matt Hogan of the men’s tennis team enters his final year at the University of Arkansas this season. A native of Canberra, Australia, Hogan was born and raised to play tennis from an early age. His father played collegiate tennis at the University of Tulsa in the 1980s, therefore, playing tennis in the United States was not a question of "if," it was more of a question of "where."
As he finished high school, Hogan was recruited by many different schools in the U.S. However, he landed in Arkansas because of its rich history in tennis excellence, which is something head coach Robert Cox says is a key ingredient in getting players to commit to his program.
"Matt is now a senior and has grown to love Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas," Cox says. "He has been named captain of our tennis team this fall and will lead this team in our quest to not only succeed in the SEC, but also return to the NCAA Tournament and to advance in that event."
Hogan hit the collegiate courts in the spring of 2008 and made an immediate impact as a mid-year addition. Recording a 12-12 record, Hogan was one of six Razorbacks with double-digit win totals. He really showed he was meant to play at this level after he won nine of his first 10 matches.
Since his first season, Hogan has slowly climbed the rankings, reaching as high as the top-50 in only his sophomore season.
"Matt has a very aggressive game and is a competitor in every area of the sport," Cox says. "He’s been ranked in the top 100 in the NCAA and should reach new heights this spring."
Hogan is majoring in communications and is scheduled to graduate in December 2011.
On the women’s side, sophomore Kelsey Sundaram enters her second full season as a Razorback under the helm of head coach Michael Hegarty.
Sundaram is a unique international student-athlete in that she not only spent part of her upbringing in the United States, but also in India, where her father is from.
She began learning tennis at an early age from her father, Meenakshi, who is the director, owner and coach at the Competitive Edge Tennis Academy in Chennai, India. Early in her career, Sundaram was a top player on the junior international tour, winning the junior national championship in India at the age of 17 and vaulting herself to a top-200 ranking by the International Tennis Federation.
Once she moved back to the United States, she became the 20th-ranked junior player in the nation during her senior year, as well as the top player in the state of Texas.
"Her unique background certainly gives her an advantage when dealing with some of the challenges and adversity of SEC tennis," Hegarty says.
Coming to Arkansas for her freshman year, Sundaram not only met the challenges the SEC brings, she exceeded the expectations by leading the team in singles victories with a 19-5 record in the spring season. Her play was so good that she earned All-SEC honors on the freshman team.
"Kelsey is the ultimate team player, and that stems from playing other team sports as a youngster as well as high school tennis," Hegarty says. "Her father, who also was a college tennis player, contributed to her developing a passion for the college game as a young tennis player."
Kelsey is majoring in veterinary medicine and would like to pursue vet school when she is finished with her undergraduate studies.