TEMPE, Ariz. - The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the 2018 ITA Division I National Award Winners on Wednesday, May 23, 2018.
Wilson ITA Coach of the Year – Lele Forood, Stanford University
Forood guided Stanford to its 19th NCAA National Championship in program history in 2018, as the No. 15 Cardinal edged No. 1 Vanderbilt 4-3 in a thrilling women’s team final. Forood was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year, earning her sixth conference coach of the year honor but first since 2011. The Cardinal posted an 18-3 overall record and went 9-0 in Pac-12 play for the program's 11th undefeated conference slate. The Cardinal was without the services of junior All-American Melissa Lord due to injury, as she did not compete until the final week of March. Forood was instrumental in providing leadership to a young roster without a senior in its starting singles or doubles lineups. Stanford won its second straight Pac-12 Tournament title, collecting its third consecutive conference title overall for the first time since a similar stretch in 2010-12. On April 27, Stanford picked up win No. 1,000 in program history, defeating Washington State 4-0 in the semifinals of the Pac-12 Tournament. During Forood's coaching tenure, the Cardinal has compiled a 438-43 record, participated in 17 NCAA Tournaments and captured nine NCAA team championships, the last two coming as a No. 15 seed (2016 and 2018).
tasc Performance ITA Assistant Coach of the Year – Jeff Nevolo, University of South Carolina
At 11-2 in the league, South Carolina finished the SEC regular season tied for second place with Florida, which is tied with the 1996 team for the best finish in school history in the regular season standings.
South Carolina’s No. 5 ranking on April 3 by Oracle and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) was the highest team ranking in program history. South Carolina went undefeated in SEC road play this season for the first time in program history, including wins at Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. Its 11 wins in SEC play are the most in program history. The 1995-96 team set the previous record of nine that was equaled by the 2015-16 squad. The Gamecocks’ No. 10 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament is the highest in the event’s current 64-team format. The Gamecocks received multiple first-team All-SEC selections for the first time in program history in Hadley Berg and Ingrid Gamarra Martins. Mia Horvit was named to the All-SEC second team. The Gamecocks hosted ITA Kick-Off Weekend for the first time this season, defeating both Oklahoma and Clemson to advance to the ITA Division I National Women’s Team Indoor Championship. The team’s trip to the National Team Indoors marked the first in the event’s current format, which began in 2009. South Carolina’s win over No. 11 Texas at the ITA Indoor National Championships marked the first win at the event in program history.
South Carolina is 9-4 against ranked opponents this season, including wins at No. 7 Ole Miss, No. 11 Texas, No. 35 Texas A&M, No. 36 LSU, No. 30 Tennessee, No. 8 Georgia, No. 15 Auburn, No. 48 Arkansas and No. 23 Kentucky. The team's 10-match SEC winning streak from March 1 to March 31 was the longest in program history by four matches with the previous longest streak being six matches. The team held a 13-match winning streak from Feb. 24-March 31, the second longest winning streak in program history and the longest streak since the 1980 team won 22 straight matches. The Gamecocks went undefeated in the month of March for the first time since 1979-1980.
ITA Rookie of the Year – Michaela Gordon, Stanford University
At the time of awards nominations, Gordon had posted a 21-8 overall record, including a 12-7 mark in dual matches. She was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Stanford's first selection since 2011. She is ranked No. 15 nationally. Has played all of her dual matches at the top spot of the lineup, serving as a stabilizing force while junior All-American Melissa Lord was out due to injury. Selected to compete in the NCAA National Singles Championship. Ranks second on the team with four clinchers. Was 11-3 against Pac-12 players and 8-6 against nationally-ranked opponents. ITA Northwest Regional Championships singles champion in her collegiate debut.
ITA Player to Watch – Estela Perez-Somarriba, University of Miami (FL)
Perez-Somarriba has accumulated a 2017-18 singles record of 37-6, including 18-3 against ranked players. Her record during the dual-match portion of the season was 26-1 (23-1 at No. 1, 13-1 versus ranked opponents and 8-0 versus top-35). Has a career singles record of 71-13, including 53-5 in spring play, 31-2 at No. 1 and 30-7 versus ranked opponents. Ranked third nationally in singles. Was a 2017 NCAA Singles Championship semifinalist and 2016-17 ITA All-American. Seeded third in the 2018 NCAA Singles Championship and clinched ITA All-America honors. Named the 2018 ACC Player of the Year and is a two-time First Team All-ACC honoree and four-time ACC Player of the Week. In addition, was named to the 2017 All-ACC Academic Team and 2017 ITA Scholar-Athlete.
ITA Most Improved Senior – Samantha Harris, Duke University
Harris holds a 29-12 record in singles and 24-6 in doubles. She reached the finals of regionals singles, semifinals of All-American doubles, finals of Oracle ITA National Fall Championships singles and semifinals of Oracle ITA National Fall Championships doubles. Harris has had one of the most impressive senior years of anyone in the country. She has gone from never before qualifying for the NCAA individual championships in singles or doubles to being an All-American and top eight seed in both. Harris also served as team captain, helping lead the Blue Devils to the ACC regular-season title and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they reached the semifinals.
ITA Co-Senior Players of the Year – Astra Sharma, Vanderbilt University & Arianne Hartono, Ole Miss
Sharma has had arguably the most successful tennis career in Vanderbilt history. She clinched matches in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals to lead to its first NCAA title in 2015. Her career record is 109-31, playing at the top of the lineup against a very tough schedule. She is currently ranked No. 395 on the WTA computer, and she played in the main doubles draw of the 2018 Australian Open, her first appearance in a Grand Slam. A superb exemplar of impeccable sportsmanship, Sharma is admired and respected throughout college tennis, by opposing players and coaches, officials, and tennis fans. She has been team captain for the last two years. She was the SEC Player of the Year in 2017, and a four-time All-American. She's a class act and a phenomenal ambassador for Vanderbilt and for college tennis.
Hartono owns a 29-6 overall record, including 20-2 in dual matches. She was named the 2018 SEC Player of the Year and is a three-time All-SEC honoree and two-time All-American. Hartono is the highest ranked singles (No. 7) player and doubles team (No. 5) in the Southern Region. Seeded No. 7 in singles and No. 5-8 in doubles in NCAA Individual Championships. Was the 2017 ITA Southern Region Singles Champion. Holds a career record of 89-45 in singles. She is a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member. The team captain, Hartono is the Ole Miss nominee for NCAA Woman of the Year.
ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award – Malini Wijesinghe, Bradley University
Student athletes like Wijesinghe are very few and far between. Wijesinghe has been and will continue to be an amazing student-athlete. Her leadership on and off the tennis court cannot be understated. This season, due to her teammates’ injuries, she played higher positions than she had in previous years. She stepped into those roles remarkably well. While her win/loss record this past season was modest, she ranks 6th all time in singles wins at Bradley University and 10th in combined singles and doubles wins all-time. Wijesinghe is a triple major in biochemistry, philosophy and Spanish maintaining and incredible 3.98 GPA. She is also involved in numerous campus organizations and does an amazing amount of volunteer work. She is a true inspiration to all she encounters.
ITA Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship – Julia Schroeder, Dartmouth College
Schroeder compiled a 15-13 record at No. 2 singles and was 19-17 doubles. Won the Northeast Regional title. Was named All-Ivy Doubles and Second Team All-Ivy Singles. Served as Team Captain with Kristina Mathis. Holds a 3.77 GPA and is a neuroscience major. A four-time ITA Scholar Athlete, Schroeder earned the Freedman Presidential Scholar Invitation, Third Honor Group from 2015-2017.
From Dartmouth Women’s Tennis Coach, Bob Dallis: This year, Schroeder moved up from No. 5 singles to No. 2 singles. She also moved up to No. 1 doubles. She finished the year with a winning record in both singles and doubles. These are just numbers. What is really important is how she did this. Everyday she tried to get a little bit better. Everyday she tried to represent Dartmouth in a positive manner. Schroeder inspired her teammates in many ways. The women on the team would practice harder when they were on the court with her not because of what she said but because of her quite determination. Her teammates didn’t want to let her down. A story that illustrates her effect on her teammates was every player wanted to play next to her when we had a dual match. “It’s so great playing next to her you can feel hard she plays yet she doesn’t say anything.” “I want to play like that.”
Wilson ITA Coach of the Year – Tony Bresky, Wake Forest University
Led Wake Forest to its first-ever ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, second-consecutive ACC regular season title, second-ever ACC Championship title, its second-consecutive No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Championship and first-ever NCAA National Championship. Ended the championship with a team record of 31-2 (11-1 ACC). Six players have been ranked in singles this years (including two in the top 10 currently) and six different doubles teams are currently ranked. Coached Petros Chrysochos and Skander Mansouri to the 2017 Oracle ITA National Fall Championships doubles title.
tasc Performance ITA Assistant Coach of the Year – Brandon Coupe, Stanford University
Coupe is the assistant coach for Stanford, which finished 22-4 overall for its best season in 15 years. He helped coach the Cardinal to their most wins (22) and best winning percentage (.846) since the 2003 season. The Cardinal also posted 11 shutouts on the year. Stanford has been ranked in the top-five of the Oracle ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings for each of the past three months. The Cardinal were ranked as high as No. 2, their highest ranking since 2009. Stanford earned its 11th consecutive NCAA Championships berth, receiving the No. 4 national seed. The No. 4 national seed is its highest in the NCAA Championships in 17 years. Stanford completed the regular season with its best record (20-2) since 2001. The Cardinal owned a perfect 11-0 record at home during the regular season, the first undefeated regular season at home in 12 years. Stanford finished second in the Pac-12 with a 7-1 conference mark. The Cardinal advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship, losing a hard-fought 4-3 decision to No. 1 and eventual champion Wake Forest. Stanford defeated 12 nationally-ranked opponents, including five consecutive victories over top-12 teams in February. Stanford beat four top-10 teams in No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 USC, No. 6 UCLA and No. 10 Illinois. Stanford's four losses were to No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 2 UCLA, No. 12 USC and No. 38 Mississippi. Stanford improved its overall win total by four wins and winning percentage by 17 percent from the previous year.
ITA Rookie of the Year – Patrick Kypson, Texas A&M University
Played at the No. 1 singles position, collected 16 wins including a team an SEC-best 13 against ranked opponents this spring. Only freshman in the SEC to play all of his matches at No. 1 singles. Earned an impressive 8-3 record against SEC opponents, including seven wins over ranked SEC opponents. Claimed his highest-ranked win of the season in the SEC Tournament Championship against SEC Player of the Year and No. 2 ranked Nuno Borges of Mississippi State in straight sets. Highest ranked freshman in the NCAA, the next highest ranked freshman is No. 32 Benjamin Sigouin of North Carolina. Second highest ranked SEC player, trailing only Borges of Mississippi State. Picked up 12 doubles victories, including a trio against ranked foes, ranked alongside Arthur Rinderknech at No. 52 in the latest Oracle ITA doubles rankings. Skyrocketed up the singles rankings this spring, going from unranked to the top-10 for the final four polls. Earned the No. 5 seed in the NCAA Singles Championship to solidify his All-American status as a freshman.
ITA Player to Watch – Mazen Osama, University of Alabama
Osama is ranked No. 10 in singles with a 15-7 record at the No. 1 position and has nine nationally-ranked wins, which include noteworthy victories over No. 5 Patrick Kypson of Texas A&M, No. 8 Ryotaro Matsumura of Kentucky, No. 16 Timo Stodder of Tennessee, No. 18 Jose Salazar of Arkansas and No. 26 Cameron Klinger of Vanderbilt. Mazen was named to the All-SEC First Team and earned a seeded position in the upcoming NCAA National Singles Championship. This seeding qualified him for All-American honors. He is ranked No. 26 in doubles with partner Edson Ortiz, playing at the No. 1 position and the duo hold a 16-7 record. Mazen and Edson are ranked No. 26 in the May 3rd poll and have qualified for the NCAA National Doubles Championship.
ITA Most Improved Senior – Alex Knight, University of Michigan
Knight was a regional finalist in 2017, and the 2017 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Consolation Singles Winner, which earned him a spot in the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships. He’s posted a 25-6 singles record and was a First Team All-Big Ten honoree in 2018, after earning Second Team honors in 2017. Knight began his career playing at the No.’s 4 and 5 positions and worked his way up to No. 2 in his junior year, losing only one match in the Big Ten regular season. He has improved to the point where he is currently No. 17 in the country in singles and No. 23 in doubles. He served as Michigan Team Captain for 2017-18.
ITA Senior Player of the Year – Martin Redlicki, UCLA
The No. 1-ranked player in the country, Redlicki was the anchor in a talented UCLA lineup, holding down the No. 1 singles position. He helped guide the Bruins to a runner-up finish at the 2018 ITA Division I National Men’s Team Indoor Championship in February, Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles, and a semifinal appearance in the 2018 Division I NCAA Tennis Championship. He served as team captain his junior and senior seasons.
ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership & Sportsmanship Award – Nuno Borges, Mississippi State University
Borges currently holds an incredible career singles mark of 80-18, including a stellar 23-5 thus far in 2017-18 and has been ranked as high as second nationally in his career and this season. Out of his 23 wins this year, 19 have come against ranked foes. In doubles this season, Borges is 15-5 overall and 13-4 in dual matches, totaling to a solid 40-29 mark in his career. This season, he earned the first No. 1 national ranking of his career, reaching the top spot in doubles on May 3 and being named part of the top-seeded doubles pair in the 2018 NCAA Doubles Championship, making him part of the first No. 1 seeded doubles pair in program history. On May 3, Borges became the first Bulldog to capture SEC Player of the Year honors two years in a row, making him just the third athlete in conference history to do so. He also became the first SEC men’s tennis athlete to win both the Player of the Year and SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the same season, doing so this year. In addition to his honors, the junior was also named First Team All-SEC for the second year in a row.
In the fall, Borges captured the inaugural Oracle ITA National Fall Championships singles crown, taking six straight-set singles wins en route to the title, to follow up a semifinal finish at the 2017 NCAA Singles Championship in the spring. Previously, Borges has captured First Team All-SEC honors (2017), All-SEC Second Team and All-Freshman Team accolades (2016), while also being the 2016 ITA Southern Regional singles champion. Borges has also twice been named to the SEC All-Tournament Team (2016, 2017).
Off the court, Borges is equally as good. As previously mentioned, he earned 2018 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors in addition to being awarded MSU's annual Newsom Award--given to the male and female student-athletes with the highest GPA on their individual teams, with male and female overall winners being named as well. Since arriving at MSU in the spring of 2016, Borges has had a semester GPA of 3.5 or higher every term and has been a mainstay on the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Borges was also tabbed an ITA Scholar-Athlete following the 2016 and 2017 campaigns.
In the community, Borges looks to give back to the Starkville/MSU community every chance he gets. For that, he was named to the SEC's Community Service Team for the second year in a row this season. Borges participates in many team-led initiatives to spread knowledge of the game of tennis around the community, while also volunteering with organizations such as the Salvation Army. Borges is also actively involved in MSU's M-Club, where he helps improve student-athlete relationships on campus. Additionally, Borges has participated in other activities such as Read Across America.
Rafael Osuna Award For Sportsmanship – McClain Kessler, University of Florida
Kessler posted a 10-8 singles record at the time of awards nominations. He was a doubles quarterfinalist at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships and a semifinalist at the 2017 Saint Francis Health System ITA Men’s All-American Championship. Was selected as a member of the 2018 SEC Men’s Tennis Community Service Team. He is the captain of the Gators as only a Junior. He has an infectious presence both on and off the court. He gives back to the Gainesville community, and juggles service, academics, and a high level of tennis.