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Vilmarie Castellvi Finishes Season Atop National Singles Rankings

May 30, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Official College Sports Network via M2 Communications Limited. All rights reserved. 

Senior Vilmarie Castellvi of the University of Tennessee Lady Vol tennis team finished the 2002-03 campaign exactly where she began it: ranked No. 1 in the country in singles. Castellvi is the only Lady Vol to capture the nation's top rating. After earning the No. 1 spot in the preseason rankings on Sept. 9, Castellvi was never lower than No. 4 during the spring. She regained the No. 1 spot on April 9 and never surrendered it the remainder of the year. Castellvi also finished the year at No. 6 in doubles with rookie Melissa Schaub.

"Mike (Patrick) and I are really excited and happy for Vilmarie and our program," said Co-Head Coach Sonia Hahn-Patrick. "It's nice to see something like that at the end of the year. It shows that hard work pays off and that's her reward."

Castellvi finished as the runner-up in the NCAA Singles Championship in Gainesville, Fla., falling to Stanford's Amber Liu, who finished the year third, in the title bout. Castellvi became the first Lady Vol to advance to the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament. Her final record on the year stood at 45-5, which included an incredible 25-1 mark at No. 1 singles. Castellvi was also 39-4 versus opponents ranked in the Top 125 and owned an even more stellar mark of 20-2 against the Top 25.

For her career, Castellvi ended as the all-time winningest player in school history with a 140-51 record. She was 82-31 in dual matches and 49-5 during her last two seasons. Castellvi was also 39-4 at No. 1 singles for her career. She was no stranger to success in doubles as well, posting a slate of 97-63, which stands at fifth on the school's all-time wins list.

A native of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Castellvi was recently cited as a finalist for the prestigious Honda Sports Award in tennis. The Honda Awards recognize the top female athletes in the country in their respective sports. After nationwide balloting, the winner becomes a nominee for The Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the nation's outstanding collegiate woman athlete of the year. Castellvi is up against Kelly McCain (Duke), Agata Cioroch (Georgia) and Liu for the award. The winner will be announced June 2.

In addition to earning All-America recognition in singles for the second-straight year in 2003, Castellvi picked up the honor in doubles as well with Schaub. She was also named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's (ITA) National Senior Player of the Year, becoming the first Lady Vol to be honored as such. Castellvi was the first member of the Orange and White to be tabbed SEC Player of the Year this season as well. She also picked up a spot on the All-SEC First Team for singles and the second team for doubles with Schaub.

Numerous other honors have fallen Castellvi's way this year as well. In January, she was honored as one of three Female Amateur Athletes of the Year by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Additionally, Castellvi was named ITA National Player of the Month for January and March. In March, she was also named one of Puerto Rico's Women of the 21st Century by the island's largest circulating newspaper El Nuevo Dia.

Castellvi was no stranger to international play during her senior year, making her first appearance at the Central American and Caribbean Games in December. The games, which were held in El Salvador, are considered one of the most important sports competitions in the region. Castellvi managed to bring home gold and silver medals from the event. After concluding play in the SEC Tournament, Castellvi returned home to represent Puerto Rico in Fed Cup action. She posted a 4-0 record in singles and doubles en route to elevating Puerto Rico to Group I status for the 2004 Fed Cup.

After finishing a couple of summer classes in June, Castellvi will earn her degree in marketing. Upon her graduation, she will head to Tampa, Fla., to begin training with retired tennis pro Gigi Fernandez. Fernandez was a top doubles player during her tenure on the tour, winning 17 Grand Slam titles and holding the world's No. 1 ranking eight times from 1991-1995. Currently, Fernandez is the head coach for the University of South Florida's women's squad.

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