Thea Rice, a Hot Springs native who played two seasons at Arkansas, will transfer to Arkansas State and join the Red Wolves tennis team this fall, women’s tennis head coach Kel Lange announced Tuesday.
Thea, a four-time All-State selection from Lakeside High School, is the daughter of Batesville native Tracy Webb Rice and the granddaughter of longtime Batesville residents Betty and Charlie Webb who now live in Hot Springs to be near the Rice family.
Tracy Webb Rice, is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame after leading Arkansas to four consecutive 20-win seasons as point guard from 1983-87. She also helped the Batesville High School Lady Pioneers basketball team win the state championship. Thea’s sister, Tatum, plays tennis for Arkansas while their grandfather, Brooks, is in the Arkansas Track and Field Hall of Fame. And Tracy’s dad, Charlie Webb, was a longtime basketball head coach at Cushman High School.
“I feel like I have known Thea, Tatum, and Tracy for a long, long time,” Lange told White River Now’s Gary Bridgman Tuesday. “To have them come and be apart of the program that I’m trying to build…that’s an awfully special feeling, and it makes the program feel even more like family than it already did.”
Thea Rice joins the Red Wolves with three years of eligibility remaining due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a sophomore, Rice racked up five wins in doubles play while appearing in singles action against Virginia Tech in the shortened season. In her freshman season, Rice went 5-3 in singles play, primarily playing the No. 5 and No. 6 positions. In doubles, Rice was 10-7 as a freshman.
“I am really excited to add a player and person the caliber of Thea Rice to our already exciting recruiting class,” said Lange. “Coming out of high school two years ago, she was the best junior player in the south, and I cannot wait to see where she can get in this environment.”
A four-time All-State selection from Lakeside High School, Rice led her squad in overall wins her senior season. She also played basketball and was a three-year starter and won all-conference honors three years in a row.
Lange is in his fourth year as the ASU women’s tennis head coach. His teams have improved in each of his first three seasons, including a second-straight appearance in the Sun Belt Conference tournament. He lives in Batesville along with his wife, Lyon College Lady Scots Head Basketball Coach Tracy Stewart Lange, and their children.
Image via A-State Athletics
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