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Caylan Leslie Successful In Comeback At Collegiate Tennis Kickoff Classic

Jan. 17, 2003

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Notre Dame junior Caylan Leslie (Newport Beach, Calif./Corona del Mar H.S.) pulled off an upset of Georgia’s Tina Hojnik, ranked 60th in the nation in singles, in her first collegiate match in 14 months on Friday in the Collegiate Tennis Kickoff Classic. Leslie fell in three sets in the second round of the event to 11th-ranked Kate Pinchbeck of North Carolina. Leslie and teammates Katie Cunha (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island H.S.) and Kelly Nelson (St. Petersburg, Fla./Shorecrest Preparatory School) will play matches in the consolation bracket as the spring season-opening event continues on Saturday.

Leslie, who underwent shoulder surgery after suffering an injury late in the fall of 2001, defeated Hojnik 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the tournament. She was playing her first collegiate match since November, ’01 and her first collegiate singles contest since Oct. 19, 2001, when she dropped a three-set decision to Anita Loyola of USC at No. 2 singles in an exhibition dual match. Ranked 82nd in the nation in singles heading into her freshman year, Leslie was 30-12 in singles, playing mostly No. 4, and 13-3 in doubles in her first season of collegiate tennis. She was expected to play near the top of Notre Dame’s lineup last year, but missed the entire spring season, as well as the fall portion of this year.

The win was the first of Leslie’s career over a nationally-ranked opponent and it afforded her a measure of revenge against her Bulldog foe. In the only previous meeting between the players, Hojnik handed Leslie her lone loss in an 8-1 month of February in 2001, a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 decision at No. 4.

In the Kickoff Classic’s round of 16, Leslie fell in three sets, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1, to the tournament’s third seed, Kate Pinchbeck of North Carolina, 11th in the collegiate tennis singles rankings. Each of the eight seeded players, all ranked in the nation’s top 38, advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals, with Leslie as the only player to win a set from any of them.

In other action, Cunha lost 6-4, 6-4 to Agnieszka Abram of UNLV and Nelson fell 6-0, 6-2 to Georgia’s Lori Grey, ranked 123rd in the nation. The two then teamed up in the doubles draw, losing 8-2 to Hojnik and Agata Cioroch (the nation’s No. 1 singles player).

The Collegiate Tennis Kickoff Classic serves as a last-minute replacement event for the National Collegiate Tennis Classic, which was cancelled earlier this week due to sponsorship complications. Each of the seven teams originally committed to that event are participating in the Kickoff Classic, making it one of the most elite collections of talent to be assembled all season. Of the other six teams with players competing, each is ranked in the top 17 of the preseason national rankings, including four in the top five. The field consists of two-time defending NCAA champion and No. 1 Stanford, 2002 NCAA runner-up and No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Georgia, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 11 Tennessee, No. 17 UNLV, and No. 22 Notre Dame. Notre Dame will face both the Tar Heels (Feb. 1 in the Eck Tennis Pavilion) and the Lady Vols (Feb. 23 in Knoxville, Tenn.) in dual matches this season.

The format of the tournament is a 23-player singles draw and an eight-team doubles tournament with all matches being played at the Fertitta Tennis Complex on the campus of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The singles bracket features 12 players with national rankings, including five players listed in the top 17, highlighted by No. 1 Agata Cioroch of Georgia and No. 4 Vilmarie Castellvi of Tennessee (who was No. 1 heading into the fall).

Collegiate Tennis Kickoff Classic


First Round

Caylan Leslie (ND) def. #60 Tina Hojnik (Georgia) 1-6, 6-4, 6-2

Agnieszka Abram (UNLV) def. Katie Cunha (ND) 6-4, 6-4

#123 Lori Grey (G) def. Kelly Nelson (ND) 6-0, 6-2

First Round

[3] #11 Kate Pinchbeck (North Carolina) def. Caylan Leslie (ND) 6-4, 2-6, 6-1


First Round

Cioroch/Hojnik (G) def. Cunha/Nelson (ND) 8-2

Note: Tournament seedings are in brackets. ITA national rankings immediately precede names.