Miami’s Vallverdu named Honda Award winner for Women’s Tennis

Miami’s Vallverdu named Honda Award winner for Women’s Tennis
Hurricanes’ senior becomes finalist for Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year

COURTESY OF HURRICANESPORTS.COM

NEW YORK – Laura Vallverdu, a senior at the University of Miami, has won the Honda Sports Award in tennis, designating her as the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in the sport. The honor was based on the results of national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools as part of the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, now in its 34th year.

Vallverdu is the fourth ACC student-athlete to earn her sport's Honda Award this year, joining Katie O’Donnell from the University of Maryland for field hockey, Whitney Engen from the University of North Carolina for soccer and Caitlyn McFadden of the University of Maryland for lacrosse.

The Honda Sports Award is given annually to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA-sanctioned sports, along with automatic eligibility to become a “Top Three” finalist for Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year. Vallverdu was voted over three other nominees: Irina Falconi, a sophomore at Georgia Tech, Chelsey Gullickson, a sophomore at the University of Georgia and Jana Juricova, a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley. The nominees were selected by NCAA Championship and ITA rankings.

A native of Valencia, Venezuela, Vallverdu is the Hurricanes’ all-time leader in singles wins with 131 total. She reached the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Tennis Singles Championships this spring to conclude her college career and ended the 2009-2010 season leading her team with 35 singles wins for a 35-13 mark overall. She completed the doubles season at 19-6 with a #1 ranking and finished 21-12 against nationally ranked opponents. Vallverdu is the first player in University of Miami history to win at least 30 times in each of her four years. She is also a four-time All-American, the third four-time All-American in school history, and a four-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference, a first in the program’s history.

In addition to her athletic achievements, Vallverdu is an academic standout. She graduated with a 3.60 GPA, majoring in psychology, was named a Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic and Second Team Academic All-District III Team.

Now that she has earned her Bachelor’s Degree, Vallverdu plans to begin working toward her Masters in Sports & Exercise Psychology this August. She noted: “I feel so honored to win the Honda Sports Award, and I am very appreciative of everyone at the University of Miami who believed and trusted in me for the past four years. I will always be thankful for this award and for the recognition it has brought. Right now I’m focusing on my academics and looking forward to my new life.”

Vallverdu becomes the second University of Miami women’s tennis student-athlete to win the prestigious Honda Sports Award since 2007, joining former teammate Audra Cohen, who collected the award after winning the 2007 NCAA Singles Tournament.

The Honda Award winner in softball will be announced in the coming days. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions. On June 21, 2010, the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup at a ceremony in Los Angeles, at which the “Top Three” finalists are scheduled to attend.

American Honda Motor Co., Inc. has sponsored the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program for 25 consecutive years. Honda has donated over $2 million in grants and scholarships to universities over the course of the program. See www.hondaawards.comfor more information.

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