Kentucky nets a star in North Carroll grad Klingenberg is No. 1 singles tennis player

May 24, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

University of Kentucky tennis coach John Dinneen had this to say in 1990 about then-freshman Susan Klingenberg:

"I see no limits to Susan's game. With a bit of seasoning and plenty of long hours on the court, Susan's dreams of playing professional tennis can become a reality. It's great to have her aboard."

Two years later, the seasoning has come around nicely, and the long hours on the court have paid off for the junior from Hampstead; she just ended the season as the Wildcats' No. 1 singles player.

Her season came to an end Monday at the NCAA Division I championships at Stanford, losing a first-round match against Meredith Geiger of Arizona State.

Her 27-12 singles record in the Southeastern Conference -- arguably the toughest conference in the nation in women's tennis -- speaks for itself.

But there's more. Her No. 7 ranking in the country earned her All-America status this year. When she first came to Kentucky as a North Carroll High graduate, she was ranked 37th.

Of the 39 matches Klingenberg played during the regular season, all but five were against players who reached the NCAA tournament.

"Just to survive the season was a feat in itself, " Dinneen said.

"She was under the gun all season and handled it brilliantly. She emerged as one of the finest college tennis players and is only going to improve [by] playing the best competition."

The 21-year-old physical education major is hoping the stiff competition will help her turn pro -- a dream she has had since first playing the game at age 8.

"I definitely want to go pro after school and give it a shot," Klingenberg said.

"Ever since I started playing, that was my goal. If I keep improving, I'll have a pretty good shot to make it for a couple of years.

"I think the steady competition will help me prepare for the pros. Every match you have to be mentally and physically prepared."

Klingenberg will get a taste of the pro circuit this summer when she competes in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Women's Satellite Tour.

She left for Florida yesterday and will be there for three weeks and in Georgia for one.

The tour will conclude at College Park and York, Pa., in August.

"It's like a future's tour," she said.

"There's some good competition. Most of the top college players compete along with some pretty good, young pros.

"I played in it last year and got a world ranking. I'm starting out in the main draw this year and hoping to get in the later rounds."

The Kentucky program has done as much for Klingenberg as she's done for it. A consistent Top-20 team in the nation, Klingenberg was able to jump right in and play No. 2 and No. 1 singles.

In the past three years, she's fine-tuned her raw talent and has a solid all-around game.

"Each year she's progressed nicely," Dinneen said.

"Her forehand, overall athleticism, speed and strength are her strong points. She also has the ability to play an all-court game, meaning she can play the net and backcourt."

"She's very tough physically and mentally. I think she can take her game one more step and definitely be a contender for the NCAA championship next year."

Her strong doubles game has helped improve her as well. This spring, she teamed with Bethany Avington on Kentucky's No. 1 doubles team, which was ranked sixth in the nation.

"I think they [singles and doubles] really compliment one another," she said.

"Doubles has made me more aggressive and worked on my game at the net."

All the success has left her with lofty goals for next spring.

"Next year, my goal is not to be happy just being seeded at nationals but to win it."

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