Since senior Katherine Ip first stepped onto the courts at Rice, she has been a constant in the lineup for the women’s tennis team. A native of Hong Kong, Ip qualified for the junior championships in the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open before she came to Rice. She posted a career-high No. 35 ranking in the 2013 International Tennis Federation junior rankings before coming to Rice.

Tennis has always come naturally to Ip. She began playing at four and began competing in tournaments at six. She continued to pursue her passion all the way through high school. She was then recruited by Rice and came to campus in 2013.

Ip has had a knack for stepping up in crucial matches throughout her career with the Owls. The first of these matches was in the 2014 Conference USA championship when Ip, then a freshman, provided the clinching point for the Owls over the No. 19 ranked University of Tulsa.

Ip said that moment stands out as one of her best achievements in college.

“It was a very dramatic match [because] Tulsa was very good at the time and we always had to fight to beat them,” Ip said.

Following that performance, Ip was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year and earned a No. 91 national ranking in singles. Her 18 wins during her freshman spring were tied for the lead on the team and she provided the clinching point in eight of her 18 wins. From that moment forward, Ip continued to improve her game into her sophomore years and junior years, solidifying the No. 2 role on the team in singles.

During her time at Rice, Ip has won numerous accolades, including C-USA Singles First Team honors for all three years. Ip is also an established doubles player. She played on the No. 1 team for Rice last year, and earned First Team All C-USA honors for that, too. Ip has also been a model student as a member of the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll and recipient of the Commissioner’s Academic Medal in both 2015 and 2016.

Her greatest accomplishment, however, came in the postseason last year when Ip earned All-American status by reaching the round of 16 in the NCAA championships. In order to reach the round of 32, Ip had to knock off the No. 4 player in the nation, Brooke Austin, of the University of Florida. She then won her next match to earn All-American honors.

According to Ip, defeating a top college player was thrilling.

"I didn’t know too much about [Austin] going into the match but I knew she was an incredible player and it was even hard to believe that I won.” Ip said. “She had earned All-American status the previous year and was very tough [but] I just wanted to go out there and compete the very best I could.”

Ip is just the third women’s tennis player in school history to earn All-American status. She joined Wendy Wood (1986) and former teammate Natalie Beazant (2013 and 2015). As a result, Ip skyrocketed up the Oracle/ITA national Tennis Rankings rising from No. 104 to No. 44 to finish her 2016 campaign.

Coming off that historic season, Ip looks to make a strong impact once again at the presumed No. 1 position in singles and continue her excellence in doubles also at the No. 1 position. Although sidelined with concussion symptoms at the moment, Ip looks to make her return to the court in a few weeks and has already begun practicing once again.

For the team, Ip said she has set her sights on getting a fourth conference championship and hopes her team can advance in the NCAA tournament.

“Of course I would like to win conference again, and for Alison [Ho] and I it would be nice to get that fourth ring,” Ip said. “As for the team, I’d like to make Sweet 16 and continue to play for one another all season long.”

Off the court, Ip wants to continue to be a good example for her fellow teammates as one of the two seniors on this squad.

“Our team this year is great and they are playing really well,” Ip said. “This year I just want to set a good example for them and be able show them what it means to be a good teammate. I want them to learn how to play our [style of] tennis and realize how lucky we are to play for such a great school.”