Kansas Tennis Signs Four Top-100 Recruits

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s tennis added four top-100 recruits – one who will be eligible to compete for the team in the spring – announced by first-year head coach Todd Chapman Friday.

Caroline Henderson (Dallas, Texas), Smith Hinton (Raleigh, N.C. / Broughton H.S.), Summer Collins (Atlanta, Ga.) and Rachel McNeely (Westminster, S.C. / West Oak H.S.) have all signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to play for Kansas. Henderson, a late enrollee will be eligible to play for the Jayhawks in the spring. McNeely, Hinton and Collins will join the Jayhawks in fall 2014.

“We’ve sold them a dream of what we think our program is going to be and they bought into that and believe in that,” Chapman said. “Now it’s our goal as coaches to go out and help develop these four young ladies to where that dream becomes reality and taking our program to where we see it going.”

Henderson comes to Kansas with a bevy of tournament experience and as the No. 4 recruit in Texas according to TennisRecruiting.net.  In 2013, Henderson battled her way to the final round of the USTA Regional Tournament in Richardson, Texas. As a freshman, the four-star recruit made her way to the quarterfinals of the USTA National Tournament in Norman, Okla., and Tennis Plaza Cup in Coral Gables, Fla.

“Caroline decided to graduate early and come, knowing we needed a scholarship player,” said Chapman. “I thought that was very unselfish of her, being a team player before she’s even on the team. I think she’s very athletic and I think that she’s really going to thrive in college. She’s played a lot of stuff that has been individually formatted, and now I think she’s really excited about the opportunity to play on a team.”

Hinton, the No. 1 recruit out of North Carolina and the No. 64-ranked player in the 2014 class according to TennisRecruiting.net  was a frequent player on the USTA tournament circuit claimed the singles championship of the USTA Regional Segment in August 2012 and a doubles runner-up finish in the Regional Segment in July 2012. Most recently, Hinton and her doubles partner claimed third place in the girls Southern Closed. Off the court, Hinton also excels in the classroom, making her high school’s honor roll in each of her three years of high school.

“Smith has the opportunity to be a very dynamic player,” said Chapman.  “If we can just get her as confident in herself as she should be, she’s really going to take off in college. She’s a very good player as it is and we feel very fortunate to get her in the amount of time that we did.”

According to TennisRecruiting.net, Collins was ranked as high as No. 67 and the No. 12 player in the state of Georgia. In 2012, the four-star recruit was a quarterfinalist at the Fall Southern Closed Championships. Most recently, Collins was a consolation finalist at the Southern Regional Tournament.

“There’s not a lot of girls who are 6-foot-1 in college tennis who have as big a serve and forehand as she does,” said Chapman. “I think we’re looking to build her game off of that.”

McNeely, the 2012 USTA South Carolina Player of the Year, comes to KU with numerous accolades including being named the No. 1 player in South Carolina and three-time class 3A South Carolina Player of the Year. McNeeley is a four-star recruit, ranked No. 76 on TennisRecruiting.net after recently placing second in doubles at the Sumter Regional Segment and Mobile Bullfrog (Ala.). In 2012, McNeeley claimed a victory at the USTA South Carolina qualifier.

“Rachel’s the type of player that can do a little bit of everything,” said Chapman.  “If we develop her forehand, she’s really going to be an impact right away.”

KU completed its first fall slate under Chapman, finishing with a combined team record of 29-27. The Jayhawks are gearing up for a rigorous spring season that will begin Jan. 17-19 at the Purdue Invitational in Lafeyette, Ind.

Caroline Henderson on joining the Kansas team:
“I committed on the spot and cancelled all my other visits. I knew I was going into really good hands with coach (Todd) Chapman and coach (Aaron) Fuller. I wanted to go to a bigger school and Kansas is not too big, not too small, the campus is beautiful and I loved Lawrence.”

Rachel McNeeley:
“I chose KU because it is a program on the rise. The school offers a diverse academic curriculum and the coaches are committed to developing me to my full potential as a player and a student. On my official visit I was impressed with the campus, the facilities, and my new teammates. I’m fortunate to attend the University of Kansas and excited for the fall of 2014.”

Summer Collins:
“KU had everything I was looking for in a school – competitive athletics, challenging academics, a welcoming atmosphere and a beautiful campus. When I saw how passionate the team was about competing, along with the talented coaching staff, I knew I found my home.

Smith Hinton:
“I picked KU because of their outstanding reputation and tradition of academics and athletics.”

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