Bielik won the national title in impressive, record-setting fashion, posting six consecutive straight set victories and losing just 21 total games during her championship trek. The previous record for an NCAA singles champion was 22 games lost, set by Stanford's Laura Granville in 2000.
"I played a really good tournament, and I'm playing better every tournament. I played a really good match today," Bielik said. "It's been a long year. I've put in a lot of work since the end of last year."
"I tried to keep things in perspective during the match, but when the last ball was hit I started to feel the emotion. Bringing the trophy back to Wake Forest is definitely satisfying. This is for Brian (Fleishman, Wake Forest head coach). His dedication and hard work have gotten me here today."
"Bea is just so competitive; she hates to lose," Fleishman said. "She is so big and strong that it gives her an edge over her opponent. Last year she realized she ran out of steam in the tournament, so she really made an effort to work out and condition herself for this season."
Bielik is the first national tennis champion and first female NCAA champion in Wake Forest history, and is also just the second women¡¦s tennis player from the ACC to capture the title. (Duke's Vanessa Webb won in 1998.) Bielik joins an elite group of WFU athletes to have captured an NCAA individual title, including Arnold Palmer, Jay Haas, Gary Hallberg and Curtis Strange from mens' golf and Andy Bloom, an NCAA champion in both shot put and discus.
Although Bielik entered the tournament No. 2 in the national rankings behind Lehnhoff, she was ranked No. 1 for most of the season until sidelined briefly with an ankle sprain in April. The ACC Player of the Year (another first for WFU tennis), Bielik finished the 2002 season with a 35-2 record in singles, while her victory on Saturday also notched her 100th career victory. Through three seasons, her career record now stands at 100-12, while her career winning percentage (.893) ranks first in the Wake record books.
In NCAA singles tournament play, Bielik owns a 12-2 mark after advancing to the round of 16 in 2000, the semifinals in 2001 and winning the championship this season.
Bea Bielik's Road to the NCAA Singles Championship
First Round: (1) Bea Bielik def. Susanna Lingman (Harvard), 6-4, 6-2
Second Round: (1) Bea Bielik def. Kim Niggemeyer (Fresno State), 6-3, 6-2
Third Round: (1) Bea Bielik def. (9-16) Megan Bradley (UCLA), 6-1, 6-0
Quarterfinals: (1) Bea Bielik def. Kate Pinchbeck (UNC), 6-2, 6-4
Semifinals: (1) Bea Bielik def. (9-16) Erin Burdette (Stanford), 6-1, 6-0
Finals: (1) Bea Bielik def. (3) Jessica Lehnhoff (Florida), 6-2, 6-0*
*Bielik's 21 games lost sets new NCAA record for fewest games lost in NCAA Singles Championship.