NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Senior tennis player Alina Shazhko is the first player in Stephen F. Austin history to be selected to play in the prestigious ITA Women's All-American Championships. The tournament, which consists of the nation's top 128 players, will take place Oct. 1st–5th, in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
On the heels of a season that saw many firsts for the SFA program, Shazhko is starting the 2011-12 season in similar fashion for the 'Jacks. She became the first SFA player to receive a preseason national ranking, as well as the first SFA player to receive an invitation to the ITA All-America Championships.
"It is an incredible honor for Alina to be the first 'Jack selected to play in the All-American," said head coach Patrick Sullivan. "The turnaround that this program has made in such a short time could not have happened without Alina. This opportunity for her to be the first SFA tennis player ever to play on those courts is very fitting and well deserved. I'm also very happy for Coach Wooten to get to travel with her. Stephanie had several opportunities to go to the All-American as a player but injuries prevented her from doing so. She has done a great job for us so far and has really earned the trip out there.
"This tournament is the best of the best and there are no easy matches, but Alina has trained hard, is playing well, and is ready for the challenge. Anyone that has ever met her knows that win or lose, she will represent us well and the SFA community should be very proud to have her out in California wearing our colors," added Sullivan.
Shazhko will step on the court Saturday, Oct. 1, to face Tennessee's Kata Szekely. The match is slated to begin at 1:15 (3:15 p.m. Nacogdoches time) from the Los Angeles Tennis Center.
The All-American Championship dates back to 1983 and the Riviera Tennis Club has played host to the event since 1988. It is the premier fall tournament in college tennis and features the top 128 players at the NCAA Division I level, as voted by the coaches.
Not only is Shazhko representing SFA, but she is also the only Southland Conference player invited to the national tournament. She is also currently the only league player receiving a national ranking.