Santa Clara, Calif.— Learning earlier Wednesday she was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, Santa Clara sophomore Katie Le got an even bigger surprise later when Bronco head coach Ben Cabell called to tell the Milpitas native that she received an at-large bid the NCAA Tournament in singles. It is the first-ever individual bid for a men's or women's tennis player at Santa Clara.
The NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Subcommittee selected the 64 singles players and 32 doubles teams that will compete in the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships. The singles and doubles competition will be conducted May 23-28 at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga., following the conclusion of the team championship (May 17-22). The University of Georgia will serve as host. All matches shall be the best of three sets. Regular scoring and a 12-point tiebreaker at six games all will be used for all matches.
"I screamed when I found out I got in," said Le. "I am really, really excited about it; there are so many good players in the NCAA all the way up and down the rosters and I am happy I pulled it out and got in. I had a good season, but I didn't know if it was possible. I've been waiting for that phone call for a long time, the entire year – to find out I was in the NCAA Tournament."
"Proud doesn't describe what we are at Santa Clara today," said Cabell. "She is the first Santa Clara tennis player to go to the NCAA Tournament in the school's history. That is a really big deal! She's been working for it all year. It was the goal since the end of last season. After her performance last year, we knew if she put in the hard work she could get to this day."
Le joins a very short list of Bronco student-athletes who have received at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament/Championship. Recently Stephanie Wilson ran to All-Americans honors with her 28th place finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships. Golfer Scott Travers, the league's WCC Player of the Year that season, qualified for the NCAA Regional in 2010 but didn't advance. Miki Ueoka fought hard for an opportunity to advance to the 2009 NCAA Division Women's Golf Championships, however she was defeated on the second try of a playoff to bring her remarkable season to a close. She finished as the WCC runner-up at the league championship earlier in the season.
Le's goals for the tournament? "All the players in the tournament are ranked really high. Anybody can beat anybody; anything can happen. I hope to make it through a few rounds."
And how will Le prepare? "I will do all the same things I've been doing all year. It seems to be working."
Le was named the 2012 WCC Player of the Year on Wednesday and also received First Team All-WCC nods in singles and doubles. She was the 2011 WCC Freshman of the Year as well.
In addition to her work on the court, Le maintains a 3.81 GPA in computer engineering. Le was recently named to the WCC All-Academic First Team.