Santa Clara, Calif.—The 2011-12 Santa Clara women's tennis team saw many firsts this year from the beginning of preseason in September to the postseason at the NCAA Singles Championship in May. With program history made and records broken, the goals and expectations are set high for next season's squad.
The Broncos finished the season with a 13-11 overall record and solidified the highest national ranking in program history, No. 51 on March 1, finishing the season in the semi-final match of the WCC Championships against No. 38 Pepperdine. Five Broncos received WCC Honors, and together the team posted the highest GPA at 3.505 for the Winter 2012 quarter, beating out of all of the other Santa Clara Athletic Department women's teams.
"We have always stressed the great balance of academics and athletics with our program. For them to achieve this when we are in season is even more impressive," said Bronco head coach Ben Cabell. "Four of the women posted 3.8 or better grade point averages, including Brittany Warly who posted a perfect 4.0!"
One of the biggest highlights of the season happened when sophomore Katie Le was named the WCC Player of the Year—just the second Bronco to receive this award in Santa Clara women's tennis history (first player was Christine Limbers in 2003). Le started the regular season ranked No. 86 in the nation and had an outstanding season with an 18-5 record, playing at the No. 1 singles spot for the Broncos all season long. Her highest individual ranking came on February 16 at No. 38 by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. She beat 10 opponents in a row during the second half of the dual season. This 10-match winning streak garnered her the WCC Player of the Month for March.
"I'm really excited about being named WCC Player of the Year because I've been working really hard all season long. It feels great to see my hard work pay off and be recognized for my efforts," Le said. "It's an honor, especially with the type of competition we play in the WCC."
Along with the WCC Player of the Year honor, Le was also recognized for her singles performance by collecting WCC First Team Singles honor. On the doubles side, Le competed with partner Jessica Agra at the No. 1 doubles position the entire dual season for the Broncos. The duo was named to the WCC First Team for Doubles.
Three-year captain, Kacie Wagner, and the Broncos lone senior, received WCC Honorable Mentions for both Singles and the All-Academic Team. She ended her four-year career as a Bronco as the sixth highest career leader for doubles wins with partner Kimmi Cox. Over three years playing together, the duo posted a 20-11 career doubles record from 2008-2012.
Junior Kelly Lamble, the No. 2 spot anchor for the Broncos in both singles and doubles, also received an Honorable Mention for the WCC All-Academic Team.
"Kacie has been an incredible player for us and has had a huge impact over the last four years as a three-year captain for the women's tennis program here at Santa Clara. Her honors show that the other WCC coaches recognize her achievements as a player individually and as a strong leader for our team. Next year won't be the same without her," said Cabell.
Perhaps the most notable accomplishment of the successful 2011-12 season was when Le received an at-large bid the NCAA Singles Tournament. It is the first-ever individual bid for a men's or women's tennis player at Santa Clara. Le entered her first post-season competition as the No. 60 player in the tournament. She would face No. 37 Abigail Tere-Apisah from Georgia State University in the first round. Le pushed the match to a third set in singles with a thrilling second-set victory, but couldn't hold on and lost 6-7(4), 7-5 and 0-6 to No. 37 Abigail Tere-Apisah of Georgia State. Le battled tough for almost three hours in bright sun and 80-degree weather with 60 percent humidity.
"This season, making the NCAAs was my goal," said Le. "Once I made it and played, I want more, but I am glad to be here. This gives me a lot of motivation for next season. After playing all these really good players it shows me what to work on. I will use the summer to brush up on those areas. I will also prepare for All-Americans in the fall. Playing well at All-Americans will help me raise my ranking and play a bunch of really good players as well."
As a team throughout the 2011-12 season, the Broncos defeated three ranked opponents. With just one senior leaving the team this year, the women look to build upon this season's success and become even a bigger threat in the WCC for next year.
WCC Player of the Year: Katie Le
WCC First Team Singles: Katie Le
WCC First Team Doubles: Jessica Agra, Katie Le
WCC Honorable Mention Singles: Kacie Wagner
WCC All-Academic Team: Kelly Lamble, Katie Le
WCC Honorable Mention All-Academic Team: Maggie McGeorge, Kacie Wagner
First-Team All-District Academic All-American by CoSIDA: Katie Le
WCC Player of the Month: Katie Le (March)