OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss women’s tennis team enjoyed another successful season capped off by seniors Kristi Boxx and Abby Guthrie earning All-America honors.
Boxx and Guthrie bring the total of All-Americans in the history of the program to 10, with five coming under head coach Mark Beyers. This marks the second time in three years for the Rebels to have multiple All-Americans.
“To get All-American is not an easy thing to do, so to have two is great,” said Beyers, the ITA Southern Region Coach of the Year. “We are proud of Kristi and Abby for their accomplishments and what they meant to this program the last four years. They will be hard to replace.”
Both helped lead the Rebels to their fourth straight NCAA appearance and a final national ranking of No. 18. It marked the third time in the last four years for the Rebels to end the year ranked in the Top 25.
The Rebels (18-9) hosted the NCAA first and second rounds for the first time since 1999 and finished among the top four in the overall SEC standings for the second time in three years. The 18 wins are the most since the 1999 team posted 21. The Rebels also advanced to the National Team Indoor Final 16 for the first time since 2000.
“As a whole it was a good season. We achieved a lot of the things we wanted to achieve,” Beyers said. “If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that we would qualify for the National Team Indoor (Final 16), go 8-3 in the SEC and host the NCAA first and second rounds, I would have probably taken all that. Obviously it was a disappointing end to the season, because I felt like we played one of our worst matches at the wrong time, but overall looking back, it was a successful year.”
Boxx closed out an outstanding career finishing No. 17 in the nation in singles and No. 6 in doubles with Guthrie. The Grenada, Miss., native has now earned top-10 finishes in doubles with two different partners. She ended No. 10 in 2010 with All-American Karen Nijssen. This year, Boxx became the second Rebel player ever to earn All-SEC first team honors all four years as well as the second player in program history to record 200 combined wins in singles and doubles.
Guthrie enjoyed one of her best seasons for the Red and Blue, earning All-SEC honors in addition to being an All-American. Boxx and Guthrie earned the highest final ranking (No. 6) for a doubles team in the history of the program since the All-American duo of Agnes Muzamel/Courtney Chapman finished No. 3 in 1997.
Sophomore Caroline Rohde-Moe ended her second campaign ranked No. 84 in singles. She earned All-SEC honors playing in the top half of the lineup for the second year in a row.
The Rebels also dominated the final ITA Southern Regional Rankings, boasting five players in singles and the top doubles team in Boxx/Guthrie. Freshmen Erin Stephens and Julia Jones were among the top 10 regional players joining No. 1 ranked Boxx on the list. Stephens also earned a regional ranking in doubles with recent graduate Gabby Rangel. Both Stephens and Jones were on the SEC All-Freshman Team, while Stephens earned second team All-SEC honors as well. They provided a lot of wins for the Rebels in the middle of the lineup.
While replacing three seniors who contributed a lot on and off the court will not be easy, the Rebels do return five of the top seven from this year’s team. In addition to All-SEC performers Rohde-Moe, Stephens and Jones, veteran Vivian Vlaar and freshmen Iris Verboven and Paige Keating also return. The Rebels will add Russian native Santa Shumilina, who joined the team in January and will be eligible in 2013, and Swedish standout Marija Milutinovic who signed this spring and will arrive in the fall. Both are expected to help the Rebels in singles and doubles.
“It’s not easy to replace what we are losing, especially in doubles. We relied a lot this past year on Kristi and Abby, and Gabby has been a big part of our doubles as well,” Beyers said. “But, we have five of the top seven players coming back, and they all gained plenty of experience. We might not have that clear-cut No. 1 player, but from a depth standpoint, next year will probably be the deepest team we’ve had in some time.”
Ole Miss will face an early test in 2013, as they host the first and second rounds of the National Team Indoor for the first time, with three teams in the final top 30 coming to Oxford.
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