In the Spotlight: ITA Sportsmanship Award Winners, Alex Clayton and Lauren Lui

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In_The_Spotlight_Logo_smallThe Division I Men’s and Women’s National Team Indoor Sportsmanship Award winners are chosen by the 16 participating coaches for displaying outstanding sportsmanship and exemplifying the spirit of college tennis during the course of the tournament and throughout his/her career. The 2009 winners were Alex Clayton of Stanford and Lauren Lui of Northwestern.


Alex_Clayton_SportsmanshipAlex Clayton - A sophomore at Stanford University from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Who is your favorite all-time tennis player and why?
My favorite tennis player of all time is Pete Sampras. I grew up always watching him and loved the way he played and how he won so many matches.

What is the best thing about playing for your university’s team, Stanford?
The best thing about playing for Stanford is being part of the history of such a great tennis legacy with players such as John and Patrick McEnroe and the Brian brothers. Also, being on the team with a great group of coaches and players makes it really enjoyable.

Do you have any pre-match rituals/superstitions?
I actually have a few pre-match superstitions. No one can touch my grips before I play or I will have to change the grip. Also, I am the only person who can stencil my rackets otherwise I feel as though I won’t play well. One time the assistant coach, Brandon Coupe touched my grip and I had to change it before a match.

What is your most memorable tennis experience?
My most memorable tennis memory is winning the US Open Juniors doubles and being a hitting partner for the United States Davis Cup team.

How has college tennis challenged you as an athlete?
College tennis has been a big transition from the juniors. I have to focus a lot more on schoolwork and I was never used to doing work before matches which has been a big change but I feel as though it has helped me on the court by going through some adversity.


 

Lauren_Lui_SportsmanshipLauren Lui - A junior at Northwestern University from Houston, Tx.

Who is your favorite all-time tennis player and why?
My favorite tennis player of all-time would have to be Pete Sampras because of his big serve, his incredible volleys, and his demeanor on and off the court.

What is the best thing about playing for your university’s team, Northwestern?
The best thing about playing for Northwestern’s team is being surrounded by teammates and great coaches. It makes a huge difference in one’s experience, and it’s a fun atmosphere to be in.

Do you have any pre-match rituals/superstitions?
For three years now, I’ve ordered the same thing before every home match: le egg sandwich from Le Peep. I sometimes think about changing it, but rather not risk it.

What is your most memorable tennis experience?
My most memorable tennis experience is when we won the 2009 ITA National Team Indoor Championship in Wisconsin. We’ve never done it before and it was great to see that all of our hard work has paid off.

How has college tennis challenged you as an athlete?
College tennis has challenged me as an athlete in many ways. First off, it has pushed me to limits I didn’t know I could reach. Having teammates around that are constantly supporting and encouraging me helps my game tremendously. Secondly, transitioning from an individual sport in juniors to a team sport in college has taught me to become a team player. Lastly, emotions are always high during dual matches. Before, I was the calm, cool, collective type, but college tennis has forced me to break out of my shell and express some emotion.

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