UCF Men, MIT Women Receive
May ITA National Team Sportsmanship Awards
SKILLMAN, NJ (May 15) - The University of Central Florida men's and Massachusetts Institute of Technology women's tennis teams have been honored as recipients of the 2015 Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Team Sportsmanship Award for the month of May.
The ITA National Team Sportsmanship Award is a monthly award that goes to one men's and one women's team that has exemplified outstanding sportsmanship, character and ethical conduct in the true spirit of competition and collegiate tennis. The winners are selected by the ITA Ethics and Infractions Committee from nominations received from all ITA member institutions (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community Colleges). This monthly award began in 2004.
UCF, a Division I program competing in the American Athletic Conference, is led by head coach Bobby Cashman and assistant coach Mark McGuigan. Cashman began his tenure with the Orlando-based Knights in 1999, and coached his team to three-straight Atlantic Sun Conference titles from 2003 to 2005. McGuigan, who joined the Knights' coaching staff in December 2013, won two National Championships while competing as an undergrad for Division II powerhouse West Florida.
UCF was nominated for the Team Sportsmanship Award for its superb conduct on and off the court. This past year the team worked with Junior Achievement, an organization that delivers experimental teaching to underprivileged children and where Cashman's players taught lessons on economics, family, education and life. This well-rounded approach to the student-athlete experience includes making a habit of good etiquette during practices.
"At first, we tell our team it starts with winning in the classroom and holding yourself to a high standard," said coach McGuigan. "At practice, we have a zero tolerance policy with cursing, racquet throwing, and outburst. During competition, the Knights are practiced to be level-headed, treating it as a challenge for them and their opponent.
"The NCAA and ITA have many great coaches and teams that apply competition in an honorable way," McGuigan said. "The UCF Men's Tennis team is grateful to be noticed as one of those teams with high character that competes fairly by challenging ourselves and our opponents to be better players and individuals"
The MIT women's tennis team is coached by Carol Matsuzaki, a former captain of the team as an undergrad, who is in her 17th season coaching her alma mater. A five-time NEWMAC Conference Coach of the Year and the ITA Division III Northeast Regional Coach of the Year for 2007, Matsuzaki instills positive ethical standards in her teams, who compete fairly, competitively and always graciously.
"Winning this sportsmanship award is extremely meaningful to us," said Matsuzaki. "One of the things we discussed at the beginning of the year is the misconception that in order to be a 'good' team you have to sacrifice sportsmanship. We wanted to prove that you can demonstrate a high level of competitiveness and good sportsmanship at the same time without compromise."
On the court, Matsuzaki has found complimentary behavior to be contagious. "A very specific action we touched on was to genuinely acknowledge an opponent's good play with a compliment or to give the racket clap. For some players it was nothing new but for others it was a big step," Matsuzaki said. "We gave it a try and not only did this have a positive effect on our sportsmanship, we had a better appreciation of when our opponents exhibited good sportsmanship.
"Winning this prestigious award in the same week that we advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history is nothing short of amazing," she said.
The MIT Engineers are 18-5 this season and will face off against Amherst College in the Division III NCAA Quarterfinals on Monday, May 18. The UCF Knights finished their 2014-15 season with a 15-10 record, their most wins in a season since 2004.
About the ITA
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body of college tennis, overseeing men's and women's varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men and women varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITAtennis on Twitter.