June 10, 2013
BEAUMONT - The Lamar women's tennis program will continue to boast of an international flair in 2013-14 as all four soon-to-be Lady Cardinals will make the trek from Europe to Beaumont this fall.
Hanna Elfving (Sweden), Nadiya Kulibaba (Ukraine), Kate Lapayeva (Belarus) and Anna Spengler (Germany) make up the class as the Lady Cards will attempt to better their second place finish in the Southland Conference this past season.
"We lost some pretty good players from last year's team, but I think we'll be deeper this year," head coach David Wong said. "Yes, they will all be freshman, but I think all of them will contribute and challenge for spots in the line-up right off the bat. With their credentials and with what I've seen, this group should be able to help us immediately."
Elfving enters the year after an accomplished junior career that included 150 top three finishes in national events to go along with four regional singles titles and a pair of regional doubles crowns. In 2011, she won the regional champions playoff, and in 2009, she was a member of the national runner-up team.
"Hanna is a very solid player with a very powerful serve," Wong said. "She's a very strong addition to the team, and she'll be an aggressive base-liner. Her serve is going to be hard to deal with for opponents."
Kulibaba, who has been ranked as high as No. 25 in her native Ukraine, was a regular participant in the national championship. She also played in the Odessa Tennis League and in a pair of ITF Pro Futures tournaments in Turkey.
"Nadiya could be one of the strongest players that we have coming in," Wong said. "She's hard-hitting, but she also has soft hands and good control. She will contribute greatly to the team."
After taking home 10 regional championships in Belarus, Lapayeva ascended to No. 8 in the country. She was also part of a national runner-up team in 2011.
"Kate is the first girl that committed to me this year," Wong revealed. "She's a very consistent and determined player. She really wanted to be here, and I'm happy she is."
Spengler is the final future Lady Card after taking home both the individual and team championships in the German state of Hesse. She also boasts of international experience in doubles to go along with a number of other titles in German tournaments.
"I think Anna is a solid all-court player," Wong explained. "Her personality and her desire to compete is exceptional. She has a great attitude, and she'll contribute right away."