Annalise Klopfer and Lexi DeNucci Earn All-BIG EAST Honors

09 Dec 2021 | 14:52 | Tennis

NEW YORK—Villanova made its second consecutive appearance in the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Championship this season and on Thursday afternoon the Wildcats were recognized for their success with two honorees on the BIG EAST All-Conference teams. Junior Annalise Klopfer (Palm Harbor, Fla.) was a unanimous selection to the All-BIG EAST first team and senior Lexi DeNucci (Glastonbury, Conn.) was a second team All-BIG EAST pick. It is the first time ever that Villanova has had two all-conference selections in the same year.

Klopfer and DeNucci were each instrumental in the Wildcats success during the abbreviated 2021 season. Villanova compiled a 7-4 record, won five regular season matches against BIG EAST opponents and stormed into the conference semifinals having won six of their previous seven matches. For the season the Wildcats won 62 percent of their singles matches (34-21) and 68 percent of their doubles competitions (19-9).

In her first year at Villanova after transferring from Navy, Klopfer posted a 6-4 singles record and a 9-2 doubles mark while playing exclusively in the top spot of the lineup. She stepped up her game against the strongest competition; during the regular season Klopfer was a winner in straight sets against three-time BIG EAST Player of the Year Jessica Livianu from St. John’s and in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship she knocked off this season’s conference Player of the Year in Aspasia Avgeri from DePaul.

Klopfer won both of her singles matches during the conference tournament, including a 6-2, 6-4 decision over Avgeri and a 6-0, 6-4 victory over an opponent from Creighton during the quarterfinal round. She and DeNucci played 10 doubles matches together and went 8-2 on the year in the No. 1 doubles position. In two seasons at Navy and her one year with the Wildcats, Klopfer owns career collegiate records of 37-26 (.587) in singles matches and a mark of 44-18 (.710) in doubles.

Villanova has been a team on the rise in recent seasons and DeNucci has been a big part of the Wildcats ascension in the BIG EAST ranks. She went 7-1 in singles matches during the 2021 season to lead the team with an .875 winning percentage. In the BIG EAST Championship, DeNucci won her opening set against Creighton in a quarterfinal match which was not completed and was leading her semifinal match against DePaul when the team outcome was determined. DeNucci played in the No. 3 spot in the singles lineup and teamed with Kloper to go 8-2 in doubles matches.

A mainstay in the Villanova lineup throughout her career, DeNucci has career records of 37-32 (.536) in singles matches and 44-29 (.603) in doubles. She tied for the team lead in singles victories in 2021 after ranking second on the team with 12 wins in singles matches as a junior last year.

Villanova showed its potential late in the regular season with five consecutive BIG EAST victories over St. John’s, Providence, Connecticut, Georgetown and Seton Hall. The Wildcats have gone 14-5 (.737) over the last two seasons and are 36-26 (.581) dating back to the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

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