ATHENS, Ga. --- The two-time Southern Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Year will face the Pac-10 Conference Player of the Year Wednesday in the first round of the NCAA Tennis Championships in Athens, Ga.
Anastasia Zhukova, the first tennis player in the Division I era at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to play in the NCAA Tennis Championships, will face Lindsey Nelson from the University of Southern California. The first-round match is set for 11 a.m. at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex.
Zhukova, a senior from Moscow, Russia, was the 2006 SoCon Player of the Year and the 2007 Co-Player of the Year. Nelson, a junior from Villa Park, Calif., was named Pac 10 Player of the Year this season at USC.
“We don’t know too much about Lindsey Nelson,” UTC Head Coach Tom Lowry said. “But obviously she is a tremendous player, and Anastasia will have a tough opponent on her hands. But this tournament is for the best of the best, and Anastasia will be prepared for the match.”
Ranked No. 55 nationally in the latest ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, Zhukova defeated five nationally-ranked players in fall tournaments this past season. She began the dual match season ranked No. 23, the highest Division I ranking in school and SoCon history.
Zhukova brings a 24-2 dual match record into the NCAAs and is 35-7 overall in 2006-07. She has won 11 straight matches heading into the tournament.
Nelson is seeded No. 4 at the NCAAs and is ranked No. 5 nationally. She advanced to the NCAA Singles Championship finals in 2006, losing to champion Susie Babos of the University of California. Nelson avenged her loss to Babos twice this season, defeating her in the regular-season Pac 10 dual match and in the Pac 10 Singles Championship title match.
Zhukova is only the second SoCon female player to earn a bid to the NCAA Singles Championships. Furman’s Megan Dunnigan received a bid in the 2004 tournament and advanced to the Round of 32.
UTC was an NCAA Division II tennis power before moving up a division. The program claimed Division II National Championships in 1983, 1984 and 1985 and has produced five All-Americas.