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Hegarty opens signing period with three freshmen

      FAYETTEVILLE - The freshman trio of Yawna Allen, Audrey Bordeleau and Maryori Franco have signed their National Letters of Intent to play women's tennis for the University of Arkansas, Lady Razorback head coach Michael Hegarty announced this weekend.
     "Each of them fits the criteria we are looking for in a Lady Razorback," Hegarty said. "They are talented players, excellent students and hungry for success."
     The first-year head coach of the Lady Razorbacks anticipates more signees for his inaugural recruiting class at Arkansas, but the three represent one of the best groups of incoming freshmen in recent memory.
     "I expect to add at least two more players to this class, but this group is already loaded with talent," Hegarty said. "They have a chance to be very special when it's all said and done."
     Allen, Bordeleau and Franco are the most heralded group of signees since the 1990s when Arkansas went on a run of NCAA appearances which peaked with a NCAA Championships appearance in 1998.
     Franco continues a legacy of Columbian players for the University of Arkansas. Ranked number one in her country and fourth in South America among junior players, Franco held a No. 58 worldwide junior ranking from the International Tennis Federation in singles and was #4 in the ITF junior doubles rankings. The Barranquilla, Columbia, native is a six-time national junior champion and winner of 11 events on the ITF junior world tour.
     "Maryori has a chance to do some special things here at Arkansas," Hegarty said. "She is young, motivated and certainly becomes an impact freshman at the national level immediately."
     Allen is one of the top American junior players, ranking 50th in the U.S. in singles. This April, she reached the round of 32 at the prestigious Easter Bowl Championship. She had an 18-1 record during the spring in the southwest region, three tournament titles including the Arizona Junior Open 18s. The Phoenix, Ariz., product also made the consolation quarterfinals of the Copper Bowl in Tucson, and was winning tournament titles as young as age 12.
     "What makes Yawna unique is that even though she's established herself among the top juniors, I feel that she's just scratching the surface of her ability," Hegarty said. "She reminds me a lot of a player I coached in juniors, Raquel Kops-Jones, who blossomed as a college player is currently is the No. 1 ranked player in the country for Cal."
     Bordeleau is one of the top Canadian junior players, ranking top 20 in 2003 heading into her final year of junior tennis north of the border. The Quebec City, Quebec, player finished tied for ninth at the 2003 Canadian Junior Nationals and has ranked top five in the Montreal region for her age group for several seasons.
     "She is an aggressive player, and a young player with considerable potential ahead of her," Hegarty said. "She'll be a young college freshman that turns 18 in the second half of the year. She has an outstanding passion for the sport and this is the factor that sets her apart from other players around her level."
     Hegarty took over the Lady Razorback team just after the start of the 2003-04 season, and battled injuries and a short roster the entire season.
     "This is the start of the future of Arkansas tennis," Hegarty said. "We're looking forward to blending in newcomers with the veterans we have coming back next season."


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