SKILLMAN, N.J. -- In four years, Saint Mary's women's tennis player Jenny Jullien has gone from a middle of the lineup option for head coach Lisa Alipaz to unquestionably one of the top 15 players in the nation.
For that progress, Jullien was honored Tuesday by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) with the prestigious Most Improved Senior of the Year award. The two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year earned the honor for the Northwest region and was one of just 12 players from across the country to receive the award.
"I can't think of a player who deserves this award more than Jenny," Alipaz said. "In four years, she's gone from No. 4 or 5 in the lineup to one of the top 15 players in the country and the only reason that happened is she put the work in to be great. We see it all the time but it's exciting for the national tennis community to recognize it as well."
Though Jullien took her first big step toward national prominence as a junior, it was her senior season that elevated her into another echelon. She started in the fall with a run to the finals of the ITA Northwest Regional and continued with a strong showing at the USTA/ITA Indoor Intercollegiate in New York.
That impressive fall paved the way for Jullien to open the season at No. 7 in the ITA rankings, the highest a Saint Mary's player has ever been ranked nationally. She stayed in the top 15 the entire season, going 19-2 and winning the WCC's top award for the second year in a row. Jullien went 7-2 against ranked competition, and helped the Gaels to a 15-8 overall record as a team.
Next up for Jullien is a trip to Athens, Georgia to compete in the NCAA Singles Championships next week. She is only the second Gael ever to qualify for the tournament, joining fellow WCC Player of the Year Alex Poorta, and makes the trek for the second straight year. Play begins on May 21 and is hosted by the University of Georgia.