Le Battles, But Falls in First Round of NCAA Singles Championships
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (ATHENS, Georgia) – The most decorated tennis player in Santa Clara University history wrapped up her four-year career today at the NCAA Division 1 Singles Championships in Athens, Georgia. Bronco senior Katie Le battled hard in her third-consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, but fell in the first round to Olivia Janowicz of Florida by a score of 6-0, 6-2.
"It was a tough day today and the results were not what we hoped for," said Bronco head coach Ben Cabell after the match. "Katie is a great person and competitor and it just wasn't her day. This doesn't take anything away from her wonderful career at Santa Clara."
Le ends her career with a 101-34 overall career record, which puts her atop the Santa Clara All-Time leader board for most singles victories. She is the first Santa Clara tennis player—both men's or women's—to reach over 100 career wins. For the 2013-14 season, Le boasts a 27-6 overall singles record, going 17-2 in dual matches. Each of Le's singles season records holds a spot in the top 10 season leader board as well.
Le's opponent Janowicz is currently ranked No. 14 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association and qualified for the No. 9-16 seed in the NCAA Singles Championships. A senior member of the No. 8 University of Florida women's tennis team, she competed in the NCAA Team Championships earlier last week where the Gators fell in the semifinals to the eventual champion, No. 3 UCLA. Janowicz advances to the second round of the Singles Championships for the second year in a row where she will face No. 52 Vikoriya Lushkova of Oklahoma State on Thurs., May 22.
"We give a lot of credit to Janowicz," said Cabell. "She didn't give Katie much room to get into the match and played very well. The score does not reflect Katie's accomplishments as a Bronco and I cannot express enough how proud the coaching staff is of her. She's a great ambassador for the program and I am extremely proud that she represents us."
Janowicz dominated right from the start, taking the first set quickly, 6-0. Le was not going down without a valiant effort and battled back early in the second set to break the Florida player's serve, making the second set score 3-2. Janowicz once again pulled away and closed out the second set and match, 6-2.
When asked about the match, Le is still processing the day's events. "Going into my third tournament, I just focused on my first match and not think too far ahead," commented Le. "I tried not to think about it too much and treat it like any other match. But I could just tell from the beginning that my forehand was really off. I broke her in the second but then nothing was working. My nerves got the best of me."
Le, a local player from Milpitas, Calif., has much to be proud about when looking back at her star-studded four-year career. She has been recognized by the West Coast Conference for her outstanding play each of her four years as a Bronco. She holds the title of the 2011 WCC Freshman of the Year and the 2012 WCC Player of the Year along with either First or Second-Team honors in singles and doubles every year.
"It's hard to see passed this right now," said Le. "But I've done more these four years that I've ever expected. I never thought I would be a top 30 player in the country and winning 101 matches has been a great feeling. I have definitely grown a lot as a tennis player, especially in doubles—I've learned to love that aspect of tennis. In addition, I cannot say enough positive things about the whole Student-Athlete experience at Santa Clara. And, of course, thanks to my teammates, friends and family at home for watching."
Most recently, Le was named the No. 1 doubles All-WCC Tournament Team with her partner Chelby Cooke after going 3-0 in the WCC Championships last April. The duo posted an 8-1 dual record together playing at the No. 1 position for Santa Clara.
"Doubles with Katie was a great experience," described Cooke. "It was a last-minute pairing, but we quickly learned how to work with each other. Katie is so talented and I had so much confidence in her on the court. We laughed a lot, developed a really strong support system, and I'm glad I could be part of her last successful doubles season."
In past seasons, Le has played doubles with long-time partner and Santa Clara University 2013 graduate Jessica Agra. The duo's 41-31 career record together puts them No. 2 on the Santa Clara All-Time leader board for most career doubles victories. After Le's last NCAA singles match, Agra was happy to share a few words about her doubles partner.
"I'm extremely proud of Katie's accomplishments through the years," said Agra. "She has been a great role model for all of us both on and off the court. I have never met anyone as talented and as hard working as she is. Her tennis career at Santa Clara may have come to an end, but we all know that Katie will continue to excel in all endeavors she will pursue. She has always and will continue to inspire me to do more."
Individually, Le has been in the ITA rankings since March 1, 2011 of her freshman season. Her highest ranking to date came this year when she entered the 2013-14 preseason at No. 20 in the country. Le has played at the No. 1 position in both singles and doubles for the Broncos since her freshman year as well, helping Santa Clara achieve its highest team ranking on Feb. 29, 2012 at No. 51.
Le has also shinned off the court and fully embodies what it means to be a Division 1 Student-Athlete. Some of her academic honors include being named All-District Academic All-American by CoSIDA in 2012, ITA Scholar Athlete in 2011 and 2012, and making the All-WCC Academic Team since her sophomore year. As a computer engineering major, Le has helped the women's tennis team post some of the highest grade point averages on the Mission campus over the past four years.
"You run into these few individuals every now and then who seem to have it all together," said Dr. Mungal, the Dean of the School of Engineering at Santa Clara. "She's one of the top students. If she was not this really amazing tennis player, then we would consider her this really amazing computer engineer."
Le's final season may not have ended the way she had always envisioned, but there are many achievements to be proud about. Cabell complimented his senior class and Le for such a fine turnaround in the Bronco program.
"Four or five years ago we were struggling to win matches. With Katie, we have won a share of the WCC regular season title, found ourselves in the rankings, given multiple individual WCC awards, and have been to the NCAA Singles Championships three years in a row. It's a remarkable feat and we have our senior class to thank for working so hard. I couldn't be prouder of everything Katie has done."
FINAL GAME NOTES – First Round of NCAA Singles Championships - May 21, 2014
#14 Olivia Janowicz (Florida) def. #31 Katie Le (SCU), 6-0, 6-2