June 13, 2014
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin women’s tennis coach Tina Samara announced Friday that Kelsey Grambeau, Maria Avgerinos and Ekaterina Stepanova have all signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Wisconsin and play tennis for the Badgers beginning in the fall of 2014. The Badgers have also added walk-on Gabby Nixon to the roster heading into the 2014-15 season.
Maria Avgerinos (5-7, York High School, Elmhurst, Ill.)
Avgerinos comes to Wisconsin after one season at Syracuse University where she played No. 2 doubles and No. 5 singles and boasted key wins over Notre Dame, Florida and Pittsburgh in 2013-14.
“Maria already has a year of college tennis under belt from Syracuse and that will help her make an immediate impact for us in both singles and doubles,” Samara explained. “She is not going to have the same learning curve as the other newcomers and I know she has had excellent coaching. I have no concern she’ll be able to handle what we do here and will be able to make us better. She is another girl from Midwest and we’re excited to add more local talent.”
Rated a four-star recruit out of York High School in Glencoe, Illinois, Avgerinos played four years at the No. 1 singles position. A three-time all-state honoree and sectional champion, she was the team's MVP in her final three seasons and the squad’s “Best Newcomer” following her freshman year. Avgerinos was a member of the National Honor Society and dean’s list at York High School.
In juniors, Avgerinos obtained a top-25 ranking in both singles and doubles of the Midwest girls 18s. She won the 18s Regional Doubles tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, and the 16s Regional Doubles tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In singles, she placed third in the 18s Regional in Mobile, Alabama, and came in second at the Midwest Open. Avgerinos also placed third in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the girls 16s Singles Regional. Avgerinos was selected as part of the Chicago team for the Marian Wood Baird Cup and won a Zonals team championship in the 16s.
Kelsey Grambeau (5-6, iSchool STEM Academy, Dallas, Texas)
Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, Grambeau was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, before moving to Australia as an 18-month old. Possessing dual U.S. and Australian citizenships, she later relocated to Dallas, Texas. A four-star recruit according to Tennis Recruiting Network, Grambeau claimed National Regional doubles championships in both Midland, Texas, and Norman, Oklahoma, in 2013, as well as finalist appearances in both singles tournaments. She was also a singles finalist at the 2012 ITA Tournament in Abilene, Texas.
“We’re really excited to welcome Kelsey to the Badgers,” Samara said. “When recruiting her, the amount of positive things that I heard about Kelsey were overwhelming. She’s a jack-of-all-trades kind of kid, excelling in academics, athletics, everything. I think she was prom queen as well as one of top athletes at her school. Kelsey brings a lot to the table and will bring positive energy from the moment she steps on campus. I’m looking forward to having her on board.”
In 2013, Grambeau took home ITA doubles championships in College Station, Texas, as well as runner-up finishes at the National Regional doubles tournament in Mobile, Alabama, and the ITA doubles tournament in Arlington, Texas. She was a National Regional doubles champion in 2012 and reached the finals of the ITA doubles bracket in College Station. Grambeau is also a National Honor Society scholar at the iSchool STEM Academy.
Ekaterina Stepanova (5-10, Gymnasium “Alma Mater,” Saint Petersburg, Russia)
A native of Saint Petersburg, Russia, Stepanova comes to Madison after a successful tennis career in the Czech Republic where she finished 2013 as the 34th-ranked player in the nation and earned the No. 5 ranking in the North Moravian Region for U18.
“I traveled to the Czech Republic to recruit Ekaterina and that was extremely important and valuable,” Samara said. “I can’t say enough good things about her. She is humble and has great work ethic and is technically sound in every shot. She’s going to certainly raise the doubles level for us and will work hard to make us better. She’s a tall, strong kid who can get even stronger. Plus, she’s a really good person and will definitely be a great addition.”
In U18 tournaments, Stepanova was a two-time singles winner in both B and C categories as well as a semifinalist at the top level, A class. She was also part of doubles teams that claimed three B class titles and enjoyed a pair of class A runner-up finishes. Stepanova also claimed adult tournament singles and doubles championships at the C level over the last two years. Stepanova maintained a 4.0 GPA and was an honors student at Gymnasium "Alma Mater.”
Gabby Nixon (5-4, New Trier High School, Glencoe, Ill.)
Nixon played varsity tennis as a freshman and sophomore at New Trier High School in Glencoe, Illinois before sustaining a wrist injury in 2013. Nixon was named all-conference in both seasons, winning sectionals and quarterfinals of state doubles as a sophomore. Nixon was elected Hardest Worker at CARE academy in 2010. As a sophomore, she was voted athlete of the month. Nixon earned honor roll in all four years at New Trier and was elected to the Student-Athlete Leadership Board as a junior.
“Gabby has everything we’re looking for in a walk-on,” Samara said. “She brings a great attitude and she’s committed to coming here and working hard to earn a spot on the team. Gabby comes from a great family and has a really well-rounded character, succeeding in academics and athletics. We’re happy to have her in Madison.”