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Women’s Tennis Announces Class of 2020 with Seven Newcomers

Women’s Tennis Announces Class of 2020 with Seven Newcomers

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard women's tennis team and head coach Traci Green have announced the incoming class of 2020; Nika Besker, Jenna Friedel, Natasha Gonzalez, Irene Lu, Lexi Milunovich, Kaelli Thiel and Angelina Ye. The group of seven joins the Crimson from five states and Croatia.

"I am excited about our incoming class," states head coach Traci Green. "They are excited about Harvard women's tennis, value teamwork, and have solid playing experiences at the state, national and international levels. We look forward to them creating more depth on our strong nucleus of returners and to be sound additions to our Harvard community." 

The Crimson placed second at the ECAC Division I Indoor Championships adding to its winning 2016 record and have also voted senior June Lee to lead the team for the upcoming year.

Nika Besker | Zagreb, Croatia | Sports High School
Recognized by Croatian Olympic Committee in 2014-15 and 2013-14 as fourth category, excellent athlete … In U18 was the doubles winner in 2016, singles semifinalist in 2015 and doubles runner up in 2013 at the National Championship … Three-time winner of Team National Championship in 2015, 2014, 2012 … Playing under U16, was a doubles winner and a singles semifinalist in 2013 in the National Championship … Finished first in doubles (2015), doubles runner up (2014) and singles semifinalist (2015, 2014) in the ITF and finished with a ITF ranking of 476 … Received an award from Zagreb Sports Association for best tennis player in U14 in Zagreb after finishing 2012 as No. 1 in Croatia … Has played with HTK Zagreb (Croatian Tennis Club) since 2009.

Jenna Friedel | Mill Valley, Calif. | The College Preparatory School
ITF Junior World ranking of 157 … ITF Junior National ranking of 10 … Blue Chip recruit on TennisRecruiting.net … Two ITF singles titles and four ITF doubles titles … Three USTA National Open singles' titles and two USTA National Open Doubles titles … Played for The College Preparatory School girls' tennis team from 2012-2013, singles line 1 … 2012 CIF Bay Coast League Team Champions and CIF North Coast Section Individual Champion … Mariners Church Santa Ana Outreach Program (2015-16) … Karl Walter Braun, father, selected to 1976 Austria Winter Olympics Swiss Olympic Team for downhill skiing and 1965-1971 International Ski Federation Alpine Skiing World Cup participant.

Natasha Gonzalez | Houston, Texas | St. John's School
Tennis letterwinner in sophomore, junior and senior seasons at St. John's School … Captained junior and senior seasons … Named team MVP in sophomore, junior and senior seasons … Southwest Preparatory Conference All-Conference sophomore, junior and senior seasons … USTA top-10 ranking in Texas in G12, G14, G16 … Zina Garrison Girls 16 Sportsmanship Award as voted by peers in 2015 … Led St. John's School to second-place finish at the SPC tournament, the best result since '09 … Named a merit Scholar, AP National Scholar and member of the Cum Laude Society … National Young Arts Merit winner for photography … Elected to Student Affairs Council and appointed to Houston Mayor's Advisory Council … Three-time President's Service Award winner … President of the Hispanic Affinity Group … Erika Smith '85, aunt, played varsity tennis and was All-Ivy … Natalya, mother, Yale class of 1981, captain and two-time Ivy champion in 1980 and 1981 … Javier Gonzalez '80, captained the freshman team … Xavier Gonzalez '18, brother, currently plays varsity tennis.

Irene Lu | Laurel, Md. | Atholton
Tennis letterwinner from 2013 … 2013 Howard County Girl's Singles Tennis Champion, Maryland Public High School Girl's Singles Tennis Champion and Howard County Girl's Tennis Player of the Year … Helped Atholton High School win Howard County and regional titles … Won Mid-Atlantic sectional championships in G16 and G18s … Ranked second in Mid-Atlantic G18 division … Placed on President's Honor Roll for four years … Member of National Honor Society … 2016 National Merit Finalist … 2015 National AP Scholar … President of Atholton High School's Math Team. 

Lexi Milunovich | New Canaan, Conn. | Greenwich Academy
2016 USTA National Junior Scholar Athlete award winner … Ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles in 12s, 14s, 16s and 18s in New England … USTA National ranking of 33 in singles and No. 4 in doubles (May 5) … Consistently recognized as a five-star recruit by Tennisrecruiting.net … Previously ranked No. 32 in the nation, No. 1 in New England, No. 1 in Connecticut among class of 2016 … Ranked No. 5 in USTA in doubles nationally … Earned Sportsmanship award in Midland, Michigan National Open … Won three National doubles opens in 2016 … Ranked in top four nationally in doubles 18-and-under … Chosen Adidas Player of the Day, James and Elaine Molden Sportsmanship award winner and finished fourth out of draw of 256 at the 2014 Supernational Hard courts … Selected to represent New England on the 16s intersectional team and 18s national team ... Win singles sectional in 12s and 14s; doubles sectional in 12s, 14s and 16s … Member of Cum Laude Society, Honor Roll, AP Scholar with Honor and National Merit Commended Scholar … Uncle, James Puzinas '82; brother, Austin '18; sister, Amanda '15 attended Harvard … Mother, Pam '84 played on the waterpolo team.

Kaelli Thiel | Piedmont, Calif. | Piedmont
Four-year letterwinner in tennis and four years at No. 1 singles … Member of Team NorCal at USTA Western Team Regionals (Zonals) in 2012 and 2014 … No. 1 Singles for Blossom Hill Aces USTA G18 team … singles player for Burgos 18U Co-Ed Team in 2015 … Captained Piedmont High School women's varsity tennis team from 2015-16 … Western Alameda County Conference first team All-League from 2012-15 … 2012, 2013 and 2015 WACC League Player of the Year … PHS Varsity Team MVP from 2012-15 … Piedmont's Female Athlete of the Year in 2015 … East Bay Athlete of the Week numerous times … East Bay Player of the Year in 2015 … USTA Junior Team Tennis Player of the Year in 2015 … North Coast Section Individual Singles Champion in 2014 and 2015 … NCS Team Champion from 2013-15 … WACC League Individual Singles Champion in 2012, 2013 and 2015 … WACC League Team Champion from 2012-15 … Holds school record for most matches won (94) … 2015 Gar Glenney Cup (State) Champions … Regional 18U Co-Ed Team Champions … Founded in 2013 and continues to run Love All, Inc., a charitable organization dedicated to providing tennis equipment and other support to high school tennis teams that do not have the necessary funding to properly equip their student-athletes … Two-time City of Piedmont "Kaelli Theil Day" Honoree in 2014 and 2016 for academic and athletic excellence … Uncle, Theodore B. Lee '54 graduated from Harvard and Gregory Lee '87, second cousin,  played squash.

Angelina Ye | Sycamore, Ill. | Sycamore
Tennis letterwinner from 2014-16 and named 2015 team captain … Four-time All-State tennis team from 2012-15 … Seven-time USTA Sportsmanship winner … Four-time Daily Chronicle Athlete of the Year from 2012-15 … Four-time Sycamore High School MVP (2012-15) … Big XII Conference Champion from 2012-15 … Sectionals Champion from 2012-15 … Four-time undefeated regular high school season (2012-15) … Winningest tennis player in Sycamore high school history … Participated in track from 2012-15 … Class President from 2013-16 … Student Council President from 2012-16 … Spartan Senate President from 2012-16 … Student Advisory Chair from 2012-16 … Member of National Honor Society from 2015-16 … Illinois High School Association All-State Scholar in 2016 … AP Scholar.

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