EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - SIUE women's tennis Head Coach Jason Coomer announced that Sierra Halverson (Burtrum, Minn.) and McKenzie Thomas (Evansville, Ind.) have signed National Letters of Intent to join the program for the 2012-13 season.
"Sierra has had an extremely successful junior career ranking as high as No. 2 in the state of Minnesota," Coomer said. "Her success is a reflection of the time she puts into her training. That will serve her well as she prepares to take her game to the next level."
Halverson was the 2010 Northern Section girls 18s champion and received the 2010 Jerry Noyce Sportsmanship Award for the Northern Section.
"It was apparent early on that Sierra was a self-motivated player who would do whatever necessary to be successful. This was illustrated by all of the 5:30 a.m. wakeup calls to drive an hour to the nearest indoor courts for training."
Halverson spent three years taking online classes through Minnesota Connections Academy, which does not offer athletic programs, but has returned to Upsala High School where she will earn her diploma in the spring.
"We are thrilled Sierra will be wearing SIUE colors next season as this recruiting class will certainly aid in our efforts to compete for championships in the Ohio Valley Conference," Coomer added. "We expect great things from her and are counting the days until we can get her on campus."
Thomas also took the path less traveled in getting to SIUE. She attended Signature School in Evansville, a top-10 ranked high school in the country according to several publications.
"Without the option of high school sports, McKenzie has played a rigorous schedule of USTA events around the country with some very impressive results," Coomer said. "She reached a state ranking in the top five this year. Her ability to balance school and travel only illustrates the discipline McKenzie possesses."
Thomas claimed a singles title at the 2011 Tommy Fontova Memorial Tournament in the girls 18s division. She also reached the finals of the 2011 Wisconsin Junior Indoor Championships in doubles.
Last week, Thomas was the recipient of the Barbara S. Wynne Sportsmanship Award by the Central Indiana Tennis Association given to the outstanding junior girl player who best exhibits a high degree of sportsmanship, an excellent mental attitude, superb playing ability, and works to promote the game of tennis, according to the presenter Anna Hazlett.
"McKenzie will have the opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact," Coomer added. "Her training regiment has put her in a position to be successful both on and off the court."