Updated Tuesday, May 22
Santa Clara, Calif. — All Bronco fans eyes are expected to be turned to the NCAA website at 8 am on Wednesday when Santa Clara sophomore Katie Le takes to the courts in Santa Clara's first-ever NCAA Championship Singles match. Le will play Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State at 8 am (Pacific) on Wed., May 22 in Athens, Ga. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Georgia.
In just her second season as a Bronco, Le continued to raise the bar by collecting the WCC Player of the Year and All-WCC First Team honors for both her singles and doubles play. It's the first time in school history a player has been named the WCC Player of the Year and received First Team Honors in both singles and doubles.
Le ended the 2012 regular season with an 18-5 record, playing every match at the No. 1 singles spot for the Broncos. The sophomore was also named WCC Player of the Month in March after stringing together a 10-match winning streak. She has been nationally ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association throughout the 2011-12 season and currently stands as the No. 60 singles player in the country, as of April 24. Her highest ranking this season reached the No. 38 singles spot. Le played very well at the ITA All-American Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Oct.
Le's first round opponent Abigail Tere-Apisah, native of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, owns a 17-1 record with four victories over nationally-ranked singles opponents this spring. She enters the match on a six-match winning streak and as the No. 37-ranked player in the ITA Division I Women's National Singles rankings. Adding in fall results, Tere-Apisah is 4-2 against nationally-ranked opponents with a narrow 7-6 (4), 1-6, 7-6 (4) loss to the No. 8 seed in the tournament, Georgia's Chelsey Gullickson. Tere-Apisah was the automatic qualifier from the Colonial Athletic Association after she earned the 2012 CAA Player of the Year award and went 17-1 in singles play this season. Click here to read an interesting story on Tere-Apisah from the Georgia State website.
Le and Tere-Apisah are in the same quarter of the bracket as the No. 1-ranked player in the nation, Allie Will of the University of Florida. If Le wins, she will play the winner of Emina Bektas of Michigan (32-9 and Big Ten Freshman of the Year) vs. Kata Szekely of Tennessee (25-8 and All-SEC Second Team) in the NCAA second round on Thurs., May 24 with the time TBA.
Preparing for what will be one of the biggest week's of her tennis career at Santa Clara, Le was named First-Team All-District Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Monday. The Milpitas, Calif. native is one of 10 Division I student-athletes from District 8 to be chosen by a 2,700 member national organization that makes up CoSIDA. Le posts a cumulative GPA of 3.81 as a computer engineering major at Santa Clara University. Her name will now be forwarded to the National voting committee to be placed on the national ballot. Le was also named to the West Coast Conference All-Academic First Team.
SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCU) met up with Katie Le (KL) before she left for Athens to ask her about how she is mentally preparing for her big match on Wednesday, what will be in her tennis bag during the trip, and how she has been handling all the added media attention leading up to Wednesday's match. Good luck Katie!
SCU: After watching the men's tennis team compete in their first NCAA tournament, how has their performance inspired you?
KL: The guys are so good and watching them play makes me feel like I'm going to play better. It was really inspirational how they upset No. 19 Texas and almost beat No. 11 Stanford. That really shows you how anybody can beat anybody in the NCAA tournament.
SCU: How have you been preparing mentally for your first NCAA tournament?
KL: I've been meeting with Adam, my sports counselor, for the past two weeks. He's been giving me a lot of techniques of how I can pull myself out of situations when I'm negative. I've been working with him a lot on the mental part of the sport so I'm feeling confident going into my first match.
SCU: What will be in your tennis bag during your trip to Athens, Ga.?
KL: I will have a lot of clothes. I definitely need a change of clothes for when I'm on the court because it's going to be so hot. I have tons of water, towels, and everything to get me prepared for humidity, including a lot of protein bars. I always have three tennis rackets, my iPod and cell phone too.
SCU: Who will be traveling with you?
KL: My coach Ben Cabell, my assistant coach Tricia Guidace, and my dad.
SCU: How do you feel about not having your 12 other teammates there with you?
KL: It's definitely not as fun or cool being without them. But, I know that they have my back and they are supporting me. Even though they aren't there, I know they will be watching online.
SCU: The Georgia weather will be mid-to-high 80s with a chance of rain when you are there. How have you been preparing for those conditions?
KL: I'm definitely not used to that kind of weather living in Santa Clara. 85 degrees in Georgia can feel like 100 degrees because of the humidity, especially on the court. The only thing I've been doing is drinking extra electrolytes to prepare me so I won't cramp or anything like that. There's nothing much I can do except for practice there before my match and see how it goes.
SCU: If you could play anywhere in the world, where would you choose to play a match?
KL: I really want to play at Wimbledon because I've never played tennis on grass before.
SCU: Do you have any rituals you do before your matches?
KL: I always listen to the song "Levels" by Avici before every match. That's my song.
SCU: You've been playing tennis for your whole life. What does this chance to play at the NCAA tournament mean to you as a player and a person?
KL: I didn't even know about NCAAs before I came to college. Even when I got into college, I didn't think I could get a chance to play in the tournament because I felt like all the people that were No. 1 in the nation were completely out of my league. Now, it's pretty crazy that I'm included in that group too. I'm really, really excited for it.
SCU: How has all the attention been since you received a bid? How are you handling it?
KL: (Laughs) I've been bombarded with a lot of emails and meeting times and have people follow me around to class. I don't really let it get to me because it's the first time something like this has happened at Santa Clara. It's just something to be proud of.
SCU: How will this experience help you in your future career?
KL: It will definitely give me an experience of playing somewhere else outside of our regular season road matches with a lot of really good players. I will get to play people that live across the country that I normally wouldn't get to play.
SCU: Has tennis taught you any important life lessons?
KL: It really teaches you that having a positive outlook on everything helps you're overall performance and demeanor. You are your own best friend. You are the one that has to bring yourself up or else you will be the one who will bring yourself down.
SCU: Lastly, who is your favorite women's tennis player?
KL: Serena Williams. She is a beast.