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Spring Signing Week '13: Hudson Commits to Arkansas

Shannon Hudson of Virginia Beach is shorter than almost all of her opponents, but she was tall enough to see a red flag on the horizon.

Shannon Hudson has committed to Arkansas
Figuratively speaking, that flag waved prominently enough to prompt Hudson to change her Southeastern Conference destination.

Hudson, a Blue Chip recruit at just 5 feet tall, first committed to Tennessee. But she changed her mind and cast her lot with the Arkansas Razorbacks, so her near-future will include a lot more "Woo Pig Sooie" and a lot less "Rocky Top."

"Originally I was going to go to Tennessee, and in November I committed," says Hudson, ranked 28th nationally, sixth in the Mid-Atlantic Section and first in Virginia among 12th-graders by the Tennis Recruiting Network. "But I wasn't that happy with the decision. I was still kind of talking to coaches (from other teams)."

So she visited Arkansas, where she found a better fit in the program of head coach Michael Hegarty and assistant Audrey Bordeleau. Hudson says the workload on players there isn't as demanding as at Tennessee, and she thinks the lesser stress will help her game.

"I liked the team and the coach a lot better," she says. "I like Arkansas so much better. I like the environment and my (future) teammates."

Hudson noted that the Razorbacks' current squad has just one senior, one sophomore and seven freshmen, making it one of the nation's youngest teams. Still, Arkansas was No. 44 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings, around the NCAA tournament at-large bubble, despite four consecutive 4-3 losses in February.

"I figure in two years we'll have a really good team," she says. "We can be in the top 20, maybe top 10. (Hegarty) is a really good coach."

Hudson said she believes her future will be brighter in Fayetteville than Knoxville, though the No. 28 Lady Vols - coached by the husband-wife tandem of Mike Patrick and Sonia Hahn-Patrick - now are ranked higher than the Razorbacks.

Academically, Hudson plans to major in entrepreneurship. She says she, a friend from high school and LSU tennis recruit Skylar Holloway of Oxon Hill, Md., whom she knows from Mid-Atlantic tournaments, have discussed starting an event-planning business. Living in a resort city, Hudson knows plenty about that kind of thing.

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