FAYETTEVILLE — University of Arkansas women’s tennis coach Michael Hegarty announced the signing of Ana Lorena Belmar to a national letter of intent on Tuesday. Belmar, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, is one of the top-ranked junior players in Mexico and a national champion in the 14 and under and 16 and under age groups multiple times.
“Ana Lorena is an outstanding addition to the Razorback tennis program,” Hegarty said. “Not only has she excelled throughout her junior career with consistently strong results, but she brings a character and pedigree to the program that is going to be extremely valuable. We are excited to welcome Ana Lorena to the Razorback family and look forward to her beginning her career here in August.”
Belmar’s uncle, Rafael Osuna, was the No. 1 ranked player in the world in 1963, and won the U.S. Open in both singles (1963) and doubles (1962). Osuna also won the Olympic gold medal in both singles and doubles at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Collegiately, Osuna won the NCAA singles championship (1963), three NCAA doubles championships (1961-63) and the NCAA team title in both 1962 and 1963 representing USC.
The ITA’s longest running award is named the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award and is given annually to the Division I men’s player who displays the best combination of sportsmanship, character, excellence in academics and outstanding tennis accomplishments.
The family success also extends to Belmar’s parents. Her mother, Claudia, was the Mexican national singles champion from 1982-89, and doubles national champion from 1981-85. Her USC team was the NCAA team champion in 1985 and runner-up in 1986. She played in the Fed Cup for Mexico from 1982-89 and captained the team in 1988. She also won the prestigious Orange Bowl Junior Tennis Championships singles title in 1982.
Her father, Rafael, was also a standout collegiate player at USC, winning the Pac-10 team title in 1984 and was a Pac-10 doubles semifinalist in 1982. In 1981 at age 17, he won the Mexican National Open Doubles Championship. His 1981 Miraleste (Calif.) High School team was the USTA national champion and considered to be among the best high school teams of all-time.
“It is with great joy that I will join the Arkansas women’s tennis team,” Belmar said. “My experience in the recruiting process was fantastic and I am excited to join this program. The campus and facilities were an incredible attraction for me, and the chemistry of the team and coaching staff make this program the perfect fit for me.”
The 2011-12 Razorback women’s tennis team has completed its fall schedule for the year, but will be back on the courts for its spring portion on Jan. 14 at the Michigan Quad.