FAYETTEVILLE — Two University of Arkansas women’s tennis players earned ITA central region honors last week. Junior Anouk Tigu was named the ITA Player to Watch, while freshman Kelsey Sundaram was named the ITA Rookie Player of the Year. Head coach Michael Hegarty was also named the central region’s Coach of the Year. Both players and coach are now nominated for their respected award on the national scale, which will be decided this week in Athens, Ga.
“Anouk (Tigu) and Kelsey (Sundaram) both put impressive stamps on their respective junior and freshman seasons,” said head coach Michael Hegarty. “Our central region had an outstanding season across the board, so for them to both be in contention for national awards this year is a big feather in their caps.”
One of three returning letterwinners from a year ago and the lone upperclassman, Anouk Tigu was the clear-cut leader for this year’s squad and led by example with her play on the court as she consistently held an ITA singles ranking throughout the entire spring season and is currently ranked No. 29 in the nation. Tigu finished the season with a 23-10 record, her second straight 20-win season.
Tigu is one of 12 players nominated for the national ITA Player to Watch honor. Other players being considered for the award are: Hilary Barte (Stanford), Julia Trunk (San Diego State), Anastasia Putilina (Utah), Nazari Urbina (Texas A&M), Denise Muresan (Michigan), Hilary Bartlett (Princeton), Maria Sorbello (Tennessee), Lindsey Hardenbergh (Virginia), Martina Pavelec (Wake Forest), Kristi Boxx (Mississippi), and Bianca Eichkorn (Miami, FL).
This award goes to the player who has an outstanding season and is expected to perform at a high level the rest of her career. The award’s criteria also includes a player’s sportsmanship and character.
Chalking up one of the best freshman seasons in Razorback history, Kelsey Sundaram easily put up the necessary numbers to back up her winning of the ITA Rookie Player of the Year for the central region. Posting an 8-2 conference record, Sundaram also led the the team in singles victories with 26. In doubles, she put up an amazing season with teammate, Kate Lukomskaya, as they notched win after win, en route to a solid 22-16 record.
Going up against Sundaram for the national award are: Mallory Burdette (Stanford), Danielle Lao (Southern California), Paige Miles (Utah), Aeriel Ellis (Texas), Chrissie McGaffigan (Notre Dame), Sarah Leonard (Dartmouth), Leslie Hureau (Indiana), Petra Januskova (Penn State), Nelly Ciolkowski (Clemson), Alexa Guarachi (Alabama), Lauren Embree (Florida).
As for Coach Hegarty, this is his second time to win the regional honor as he is now one of the 12 nominees for the ITA Coach of the Year.
All national awards will be announced this week during the NCAA Championships in Athens, GA, where individual play begins on Wednesday. Anouk Tigu is the lone Hog competing in this tournament and will find out who her first opponent is on Tuesday when the final bracket is announced.
For full coverage of Tigu in the NCAA Individual Championships as well as continuing coverage of the Razorback women’s tennis team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.