ITA Announces 2015 Division III National Award Winners
SKILLMAN, NJ (May 20) - The ITA has announced its national award winners for Division III men's and women's tennis. The award winners are listed below, followed by a description of each winner's accomplishments.
2015 Men's Award Winners:
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Steve Gachko, Stevens Institute of Technology
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Pauri Pandian, Brandeis University
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Warren Wood, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges
ITA Rookie Player of the Year: Nicholas Chua, University of Chicago
ITA Most Improved Player of the Year: Motasem Al-Houni, Gustavus Adolphus College
ITA Player to Watch: Ari Smolyar, Middlebury College
ITA/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award: Tyler Carey, University of Mary Washington
2015 Women's Award Winners:
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Kelly Stahlhuth, Washington University - St. Louis
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Andrew Cohn, Pomona-Pitzer Colleges
ITA Player to Watch: Joulia Likhanskaia, Bowdoin College
ITA Senior Player of the Year: Maria Pylypiv, Williams College
ITA Rookie Player of the Year: Eudice Chong, Wesleyan University
ITA Most Improved Player of the Year: Claire Marshall, Depauw University
ITA/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award: Rebecca Curran, Williams College
Men's award winners:
Steve Gachko, the 2015 Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year, took the reins of the Stevens program 10 years ago when it had no history of decorated recruiting classes or ITA team regional rankings. Since then Gachko has become the winningest coach in school history, breaking the 150 win plateau earlier this season. The program is a consistent winner and has reached at least the NCAA Second Round every year since 2010. Gachko has accomplished numerous firsts in program history, including its first ever nationally-ranked recruiting class in 2012, first ITA regional and national team ranking, first ITA All-American and first appearance in the NCAA Regional Final in 2013. He earned Empire 8 Coach of the Year honors for the sixth time after leading his squad to a program-record 19 victories and sixth consecutive conference title this season.
Pauri Pandian, the 2015 ITA Assistant Coach of the Year, was named the ITA Assistant Coach of the Year for the Northeast Region on both the men's and women's side for Brandeis. He has helped bring the men's team back into the national rankings, including a season-best No. 27 ranking in the current rankings issue. Pandian has helped his players improve tremendously from a tactical standpoint by assigning bench players to track certain stats during singles and doubles matches. This season he also began using video as an additional teaching tool, recording all doubles courts and one singles court during a dual match. Pandian is also a very effective motivator along with having a great analytical mind.
Nicholas Chua, the 2015 ITA Rookie Player of the Year, began his career in impressive fashion, winning the singles crown at the USTA/ITA Central Region Championship this fall. That tournament victory earned Chua a place in the Division III Men's Singles draw at the USTA/ITA National Small College Championships, which he also won after entering unseeded. Chua was also awarded the 2014 James O'Hara Sargent Sportsmanship Award, presented by Rolex Watch, USA, during the event. He has played in the first singles position all spring, going 16-5 in dual matches to run his overall record to 28-8. Recently named the UAA Rookie of the Year, Chua is currently ranked second in the ITA Central Region. He also contributed a singles and doubles victory in Chicago's 5-2 win over Gustavus Adolphus to advance into the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Ari Smolyar, the 2015 ITA Player to Watch, played fourth in the singles lineup a season ago but has held down the top singles spot this year for Middlebury. Smolyar has a 16-2 record in dual matches and helped his team reach the NCAA Quarterfinals. Overall he is 29-3 on the season, earning him the top ranking in the ITA Northeast Region. Smolyar had a great year in doubles as well, compiling a 22-7 record which includes a 17-4 mark at second doubles. His coach also credits Smolyar with leading the team by demonstrating hard work and dedication.
Warren Wood, the 2015 ITA Senior Player of the Year, will graduate as the winningest player in Claremont-Mudd-Scripps history, surpassing the 100-win mark in both singles and doubles earlier this season. He has amassed numerous awards throughout his collegiate career and was recently named the Claremont McKenna College Male Athlete of the Year. Wood has earned ITA All-America honors seven times overall, was named the the SCIAC Athlete of the Year twice, won the prestigious Ojai singles championship twice and reached the finals of the NCAA Division III Singles Championship last spring. He is currently ranked first in both singles and doubles in the ITA West Region, while his Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team currently sits atop the national rankings.
Motasem Al-Houni, the 2015 ITA Most Improved Player of the Year, went from barely cracking the top six of his team's singles lineup during his first three seasons to vaulting up to the top two spots in the lineup this year. Al-Houni had not achieved a regional ranking before this season but was ranked as high as No. 2 in the ITA Central Region after winning the singles title at the USTA/ITA Midwest Region Championships this fall. He also took home the regional doubles crown and is currently part of the top-ranked doubles duo in the region. Al-Houni earned a spot on both the singles and doubles all-conference teams this season. Al-Houni's coach credits him for emphasizing leadership as a senior on a young Gustavus Adolphus team.
Tyler Carey, the 2015 ITA/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award winner, has made an impact on and off the court at Mary Washington. Among his volunteering ventures was his involvement with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which pairs collegiate athletic teams with children battling pediatric brain tumors. Instead of just introducing Wesley, a boy who has been battling brain cancer for eight years, to his tennis team, Carey make Wesley a part of the entire athletic department, introducing him to all 500+ athletes during the department's "Welcome Back" night. This led to Wesley attending games and matches for all the school's athletic teams, including throwing out the first pitch at a home baseball game. Carey has also been involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Fredericksburg, the Special Olympics, and the Salvation Army Angel Tree program. He has the on-court accomplishments to match, currently ranking in the top five in both singles and doubles in the ITA Atlantic South Region and helping lead Mary Washington to the NCAA Regional Final while playing first singles and doubles.
Women's award winners:
Kelly Stahlhuth, the 2015Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year, is in her tenth season as the head coach at Washington University - St. Louis and has led her team to nine NCAA Tournament appearances in her tenure. This year's squad finished the season with a record of 18-6, which included a third place finish in the UAA Championship. Not only is Stahlhtuh's team the top-ranked team in the region, it also boasts the region's top-ranked singles player and doubles pair. Stahlhuth led the team to the NCAA Quarterfinals the two previous seasons, which were just the second and third Quarterfinal appearances in program history. Stahlhuth's colleagues credit her for taking her program to new heights while always competing with outstanding sportsmanship and class. Earlier this season, her team was honored with the ITA Team Sportsmanship Award at the ITA Division III National Women's Team Indoor Championship.
Andrew Cohn, the 2015 ITA Assistant Coach of the Year, has been the assistant coach at Pomona-Pitzer for two seasons. Although he is officially the assistant coach, he has served as acting head coach for the program both years while head coach Ann Lebedeff is on medical leave. The team has gone 32-15 under Cohn's direction, reaching the NCAA Third Round in both seasons while consistently being ranked inside the Top 10 of the ITA Division III National Women's Team Rankings. Cohn has also been tremendous on the recruiting trail, bringing in players who are ready to compete against the best teams in the nation right away; this year's squad featured five freshmen in the lineup. He has also gotten the team involved in several community service events such as NGW Sports Day and the Cure for Cancer run.
Eudice Chong, the 2015 ITA Rookie Player of the Year, was named both the Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the NESCAC earlier this season and garnered First Team All-Conference honors in both singles and doubles. She is currently the top-ranked player in the ITA Northeast Region along with being ranked second regionally in doubles. Chong finished the season a perfect 17-0 in singles, surrendering just a single set in all of her matches. She also went 20-3 in doubles this spring, playing in the number one doubles position. She was selected to compete in the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships later this month, becoming the first Wesleyan women's tennis player in program history to play in the individual NCAA Championships.
Joulia Likhanskaia, the 2015 ITA Player to Watch, is currently ranked third in both singles and doubles in the ITA Northeast Region. She has played at the first position in both singles and doubles for Bowdoin College, which has been ranked inside of the Top 10 of the ITA Division III National Women's Team Rankings the entire season. She helped Bowdoin to a 14-6 record on the year, reaching the NCAA regional final. Likhanskaia was named First Team All-NESCAC in singles and second team in doubles this year. She is set to compete in both the NCAA Singles and Doubles Championships.
Maria Pylypiv, the 2015 ITA Senior Player of the Year, plays at the first singles position for Williams College, the top-ranked team in the ITA Division III National Women's Team Rankings. Pylypiv has compiled a 26-4 record to this point in the season. Earlier this season she recorded the 100th singles victory of her career, becoming just the fourth player in the program's decorated history to reach that mark. Pylypiv has also amassed over 80 career doubles wins, including claiming the USTA/ITA New England Region doubles crown this fall. She started her career splitting time at the sixth singles position and was not in the doubles lineup, but has worked her way to the top of the lineup in both singles and doubles this season along with serving as one of the team's captains.
Claire Marshall, the 2015 ITA Most Improved Player of the Year, had never achieved a regional ranking before this season and is currently ranked sixth in singles and second in doubles in the ITA Central Region. Curran began her DePauw career playing number five singles and number three doubles and climbed all the way to the top of both lineups in her senior season. She was named the North Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year earlier this year after DePauw won its fourth consecutive conference title. Marshall has been an instrumental part of her team's success this year, helping lead the squad back to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time in nine seasons.
Rebecca Curran, the 2015 ITA/Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award winner,
is a captain for the current No. 1 team in the ITA Division III National Women's Team Rankings. She has won the USTA/ITA New England Region doubles crown twice in her career, along with winning the Division III doubles title at the 2013 USTA/ITA National Small College Championships. She holds Williams College records for most doubles wins in a singles season with 33, and most doubles wins in a career with 106 and counting. Perhaps most impressively, she has an undefeated record in NCAA Tournament play for her career. Curran has made a major impact off the court as well at Williams, becoming a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee during her freshman year. She was also selected to be part of Williams' APPLE team, which attends a national conference for NCAA Division I, II, and III athletes focusing on the prevention of substance abuse in athletics. She is also the co-president of the Williams chapter of Reclaim Childhood, a non-profit organization started by alumni in 2010 that provides sports opportunities for young refugees and local women in the country of Jordan.
For a full list of NCAA Division III Regional award winners, click here.
About the ITA Awards program:
As the governing body of collegiate tennis, the ITA promotes both the athletic and academic achievements of varsity collegiate tennis players. The ITA, which is comprised of nearly 1,700 men's and women's varsity coaches and 20,000 student-athletes from over 1,200 institutions, has a comprehensive awards program for players and coaches to honor excellence in academics, leadership, sportsmanship and athletic performance. Awards are given to both men and women, on the Regional and National levels to all Divisions represented within the ITA (NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, and Community and Junior Colleges). The ITA annually recognizes over 3,000 student-athletes on an individual and team basis from over 500 different varsity tennis programs. More than 300 coaches participate in the award selection process, serving on Regional and/or National selection committees. For more information on the ITA Awards program, please visit http://www.itatennis.com/AboutITA/AbouttheITA.htm.