TEMPE, Ariz. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the 2016 NAIA national award winners on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. Players and coaches that received ITA regional awards were eligible for national consideration.
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Reinaldo Valor, SCAD Savannah
The Bees currently sport a program-best 16-1 record and were The Sun Conference regular-season champions for the third time in the past four seasons. They clinched their 12th consecutive trip to the NAIA Women’s Tennis Championship by winning The Sun Conference Championship tournament. The program is undefeated in NAIA matches in 2016, with its only loss coming against Division I Presbyterian. SCAD claimed its first Division I win in program history, defeating Georgia Southern. The Bees were 8-0 against ranked opponents this season.
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Martin Harach, Auburn University, Montgomery
Harach has been an instrumental factor in AUM’s success in 2015 and 2016. While working on his MBA as a full-time student and graduate assistant, in his first season he made a significant impact on and off the court, and AUM went on to finish the year with a 23-4 record. In 2016, AUM has a record of 16-3, including seven wins over ranked opponents and three victories over teams in the Top 10. AUM has a 32-match win streak in the NAIA over the last two years. Harach encourages the value of sportsmanship, which keeps his players doing the right thing on the court and representing AUM in a proud manner.
ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award: Alexis Quinn, Southeastern University
The No. 1 singles player for Southeastern University, Quinn sports a 10-5 record and is ranked No. 38 nationally. She’s also gone 7-4 in doubles with partner Emily Acierno and the duo are No. 21 in the nation. Additional honors for Quinn include: two-time The Sun Conference Champion of Character honoree; three-time Academic All-TSC selection; two-time CoSIDA Academic All-Region, 2015 Second Team CoSIDA Academic All-American; First Team All-Sun Conference and Honorable Mention NAIA All-American.
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Fatyha Berjane, Brenau University
Currently ranked No. 5 in singles, Berjane has posted an overall record of 17-2 this season. She’s notched wins over No. 3 Lauren Stratman (Westmont), No. 6 Anastasiia Vasileva (Middle Georgia), No. 10 Paula Diaz (AUM), No. 13 Henar Munoz (Lindsey Wilson), No. 21 Aleksandra Emelianova (San Diego Christian) and No. 32 Mariah Plauth (Mobile), with her only NAIA loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Valeria Podda (Georgia Gwinnett) in a three-set match (7-5, 5-7, 10-5). Berjane was recognized as the 2016 SSAC Player of the Year.
ITA Most Improved Player of the Year: Jessica King, Lindsey Wilson
King currently has a 13-5 singles record in 2016. She reached No. 18 in the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings in singles, and No. 2 in doubles this season.
ITA Player to Watch: Ines Costamagna, Westmont College
Costamagna is undefeated against all NAIA opponents this season, with all of her five losses (she’s 6-5 on the year) coming against NCAA opponents. She’s currently ranked No. 11 in the nation in singles, and No. 14 in doubles.
ITA Rookie of the Year: Aleksandra Emelianova, San Diego Christian College
Playing the No. 1 singles and doubles positions, Emelianova has worked her way to a No. 5 regional ranking in singles, No. 8 regional ranking in doubles and No. 19 national ranking in singles. A kind, thoughtful and considerate person off the work, Emelianova works hard and has great sportsmanship on the court.
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Alan Green, Xavier University of Louisiana
Green has put together the best team in the modern era of Xavier men’s tennis, with the 2016 squad holding a 13-6 record and No. 3 NAIA national ranking. Xavier is 8-0 versus NAIA opponents, including four wins over teams in the Top 10, and have also defeated five NCAA Division I teams. Xavier qualified for the NAIA National Tennis Championship for the eighth consecutive year; they’ve reached the quarterfinal round each of the past four seasons. Green’s teams always demonstrate good sportsmanship on and off the court.
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Craig Holman, McPherson College
Holman is a McPherson College alum and donates his time by volunteering to help the tennis program. He can be seen many times assisting players after practices with their serves and comes to every match, all while running his own financial accounting firm. Holman has a true passion for tennis and the for the players that a part of the McPherson College program.
ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award: Jordan Cox, Georgia Gwinnett College
Currently ranked No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, Cox, the GGC team captain, is undefeated against NAIA competition, outside of going against a GGC teammate. Won the 2015 National Small College Championship Super Bowl doubles title with Kevin Konfederak, earning the pair a spot at the 2015 National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships in New York City.
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Daniel Rueda, University of Northwestern Ohio
Rueda holds a 19-5 record at No. 1 singles and an 18-5 mark at No. 1 doubles. He’s ranked No. 25 nationally, but was as high as No. 5 earlier in the season. Rueda is No. 2 in the nation in doubles with partner Thommy Johnasson. Rueda finished seventh in singles and third in doubles at the 2015 National Small College Championships. He’s won three ITA Regional doubles titles and two singles titles.
ITA Most Improved Player of the Year: Manuel Raga, Bethany College
Raga has put together a solid 2016 campaign, currently holding down the No. 5 national ranking in singles.
ITA Player to Watch: Brendan Aguilar, San Diego Christian College
Ranked No. 1 in the West Region in singles and doubles, and No. 11 nationally in singles and No. 4 in doubles. He has been honored as an NAIA First Team All-American, and helped guide San Diego Christian College to the OJAI Tournament championship in 2015.
ITA Rookie of the Year: Rafael A. Coutinho, Warner University
In his first season, Coutinho took over the No. 1 singles and doubles positions, and has ascended to a No. 16 national singles ranking, and No. 13 national ranking in doubles. He’s posted perfect 11-0 records in singles and doubles in 2016.
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