The University of Louisville women’s tennis team has four new faces on it with the addition of Chelsea Sawyer, Rhea Verma, Maia Haumuller and Jelena Vujanic. “We put an emphasis on experience with this recruiting class. Each of these players have played college tennis at other universities, so the only transition they will need to make is adjusting to our coaching style and the new Louisville environment,” said Mark Beckham, UofL head coach. “They already have an understanding of the team concept of college tennis which can be difficult for freshmen because tennis is such an individual sport for their whole careers but then they must become a member of a team which is trying to accomplish the same team goal. Also, they have a good understanding of how intense college tennis is because of the fact you are not playing for just yourself but your teammates and the university. These obstacles can be hard for freshmen to grasp and holds them back a lot until they are able to understand it and thrive in these conditions. All of these players have already been through that and fortunate for us really thrive in it so we feel really confident they can help get our team to the level we expect. Coach Fulton and I have really enjoyed coaching these girls in the brief time we have been with them so far. They are all high character people, hard workers and talented tennis players.”Chelsea Sawyer of Clemmons, N.C. was rated as a five-star recruit according to TennisRecruiting.net, ranking as high as No. 27 in her recruiting class. She was the No. 43-ranked player in the country and the top player in the state of North Carolina and played on the Southern Cup Team. She won the singles title at the Cary Tennis Park Classic in N.C. She began her collegiate career as a Volunteer, playing her freshman year at the University of Tennessee. At UT, she went 12-4 in singles matches. In doubles, Sawyer competed in SEC regular season matches, SEC tournament matches and in the NCAA tournament. In the summer of 2018, Sawyer won her singles and doubles draws at the Oracle ITA Summer Circuit powered by UTR at Middle Tennessee State. She transferred to Penn State where she competed in 12 singles and 10 doubles matches over four tournaments in the fall of 2018. Sawyer’s singles play was highlighted at the Hokie Fall Invite where she rattled off three straight-set wins to make the finals. In finals, she fell in a tight three-set match to Liberty’s Lara Soares, 6-0, 0-6, 7-5. In doubles, Sawyer paired up with Gabby O’Gorman to tie for a team-high five wins. In the spring, she went 13-6 predominately playing No. 3 for the Nittany Lions and had a ranked win over #62 Kolie Allen from Ohio StateRhea Verma of Toronto, Ont. won six ITF Tournaments (three in singles and three in doubles) and reached the career ITF ranking of 185. She has competed in many ITF Grade 1 events (highest level after grands-slams). She has wins over top 100 players and was a gold medalist (doubles) at the Canadian games in 2017 and was a singles and doubles finalist at the Canadian Indoor National Championships U18 in 2017. A singles finalist at the Canadian Outdoor Nationals and a member of Team Ontario for the past three years, she ranked in the Top 5 Canadian ranking U18 and No. 9 nationally in women’s division. At Northwestern (La.) State University, she was undefeated in conference play at 11-0. She went 8-0 at No. 3 and moved up and stayed perfect at 3-0 at No. 2 went 14-7 in doubles with partner Patrycja Polanska, playing mostly at the No. 2 spot. Named First Team All-Conference selection, she was the LSWA Louisiana Collegiate Women’s Tennis Freshman of the Year and second team All-Louisiana. She scored the clinching point in 4-3 comeback victories against Lamar and Sam Houston State. Maia Haumuller of Corral De Bustos, Argentina played at Tennessee as a freshman last year. In high school, she accumulated a 56-45 singles record and reached a high singles ITF ranking of No. 152 She also won the singles main draw at the Grade 5 2016 Paraguay Junior Open, while finishing runner-up at the Grade 5 2017 Tunari Junior Open, the Grade 5 2016 Barquisimeto Juniors Open and the Grade 5 12th Mburucuya Bowl. She played in the Junior Fed Cup (Hungary), placing sixth with the Argentinian National Team and played in the World Cup (Monte Carlo) where she finished third place with the Argentinian National Team. In addition, she won multiple G1 ITF Tournaments in Argentina. As a Volunteer, she clinched Tennessee’s win over Mississippi State with a 6-4, 6-4 victory at the No. 6 singles spot. She helped the Lady Vols defeat No. 15 LSU with a win at the No. 6 spot in the lineup and recorded two singles wins during Tennessee’s doubleheader against UT Martin and ETSU, including the match-clinching win against ETSU. The freshman defeated UT Martin’s Mizuki Sakurai, 7-6 (3), 6-1, then took down ETSU’s Yi Chi Ma, 6-1, 6-2. She Partnered with Tenika McGiffin to win her sixth straight doubles match, defeating Purdue. She defeated South Florida’s Nicole Dzenga at the No. 6 singles spot, 6-3, 6-1, for Tennessee’s first singles win of the match. In doubles, she partnered with Tenika McGiffin to defeat Amelie Boy and Evelyne Tiron 6-1 at the No. 2 doubles spot. She clinched Tennessee’s match over Indiana with a 6-1, 7-5 win. In doubles, she partnered with Tenika McGiffin to defeat Caitlin Bernard and Natalie Whalen 6-1 at the No. 2 doubles spot. Registering two doubles wins at the No. 2 spot over Old Dominion while partnered with Tenika McGiffin, she helped Tennessee upset No. 15 Florida State by defeating Andrea Garcia, 6-1, 6-3 in the No. 6 singles spot. She won all three singles matches at the Michigan Invitational to improve to 5-0 as a Lady Vol in singles. In her Tennessee debut, won two singles matches and two doubles matches against North Alabama on Jan. 14. Partnered with fellow freshman Rebeka Mertena in doubles for a pair of 6-1 wins and won two matches on Court 5 by scores of 6-0, 6-1 and 6-4, 6-2. Jelena Vujanic of Elk Grove Village, Illinois, comes to UofL after spending her freshman year at Valparaiso University. As a prep player, she was as a four-star recruit, according to tennisrecruiting.net, receiving first-team all-state singles accolades as a senior. She was ranked No. 1 in Illinois, No. 5 in the Great Lakes and No. 79 nationally. As a senior, she made an appearance in the state quarterfinals where she knocked off a five-star player in the state tournament and made it further than any other player in her school’s history. She was named IHSA All State in First Singles, was a two-time Sectional Champion and a four-time State Qualifier. As a freshman, she was named to the MVC All-Select Team after posting a 19-6 singles record and a 12-12 mark in doubles activity despite having her season cut short by an injury. Tied for fourth in program history for singles wins in a single season, she finished with a .760 singles winning percentage that ranks sixth in single-season program history. She had the most singles wins a season by any Valpo player since 2006-2007 and reached the championship match of Flight 2 Singles at the MVC Individual Championship in Normal, Ill. on Oct. 9. She won the MVC Doubles Team of the Week award with Claire Czerwonka after defeating No. 1 doubles teams from Northern Illinois and Lewis. She earned another Doubles Team of the Week distinction after she and Czerwonka registered a 6-1 win over Northern Kentucky. She took home MVC Singles Player of the Week honors after winning all 12 games of her No. 2 singles match against Chaminade in Honolulu, Hawaii. She started the season with six straight wins, then had an even longer streak from Feb. 17 to April 4, reeling off seven victories in a row. After falling on Feb. 10, did not lose again until April 7. She played in the fall of last season where she posted a 12-2 mark in singles and went 6-3 in doubles.
|Nancy Allison Worley|
Associate Director, Sports Information
University of Louisville Athletics