ATHENS, Ga. – Sophmore Ela Kaluder opens the 2007 NCAA Women’s Singles Championships for the Arkansas Lady Razorback tennis team on Wednesday afternoon at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Kaluder faces California’s Nina Henkel in a first-round match set for 1 p.m. central time at the University of Georgia-hosted event.
UA head coach Michael Hegarty is excited about Kaluder’s prospects.
“This is Ela’s first time as an individual at the NCAAs, and it will be a great experience for her in many ways,” Hegarty said. “While she’s had a couple of injuries late in the season, if she can get off to a good start, I think she can go far.”
The match is a clash of all-conference tennis players. Kaluder was named first-team all-SEC, the first Lady’Back ever to earn the honor, while Henkel was named all-Pac-10 in her first year at Cal.
A freshman from Espaneu, Germany, Henkel posted a record of 38-11 for the 10th-ranked Cal Golden Bears. Ranked 36th in the world by ITF for U-18 players in 2005, Henkel carries an ITA college ranking of 22nd into the match with Kaluder.
Kaluder is ranked 35th in the most recent ITA ranking after a 26-13 overall season for Arkansas.
Henkel and Cal were participants in the team portion of the tournament, falling in the semifinals on Monday to Georgia Tech.
A win for Kaluder advances her to face the winner of Ana Cetnik of TCU and UCLA’s Riza Zalameda. A senior for the Horned Frogs, Cetnik is ranked 57th with a 25-9 record for TCU. Ranked 15th in the country, Zalameda is one of the eight players seeded in the second tier of players for the tournament and the junior went 19-15 this season for UCLA.
The second round match will be on Thursday, but times for the round of 32 are set after the completion of the first round on Wednesday.
Kaluder is the first individual to compete at the NCAA championship for Hegarty at Arkansas, and she is only the fourth Lady Razorback to have an individual singles bid in school history.
Kaluder is the first individual at the NCAAs for Arkansas since Chin Bee Khoo in 2001, and hopes to advance two rounds and become the first all-American since Khoo.