Monday, May 09, 2005
A day after the University of Alabama’s women’s tennis team earned its fifth consecutive bid to the NCAA Women’s Tennis Tournament; two Alabama players have been recognized by the ITA South Region for outstanding achievements in 2005.
Robin Stephenson (Kitchener, Ontario) has been named the region’s “Player to Watch” and Natalie McElveen (Birmingham/Mountain Brook) has been awarded the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award.
The “Player to Watch” award is given to a player who is expected to be one of the top returning players in the region and a favorite to win the ITA Regional Event held each fall. Stephenson, a junior, is already one of the top players in America will surely be a force to reckon with in 2006.
“Robin receiving this award is a testament to her hard work and determination,” Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. “She has climbed steadily every year and is one of the premier women’s tennis players in the nation. This was a heavily contested honor and Robin should be very proud of her achievements.”
This year Stephenson earned her second consecutive 20-win season and continues to mark her place in Alabama tennis history. She is 27-12 on the season and 66-32 in her career, ninth on the Tide’s all-time career wins list. She is currently ranked sixth in the nation, the highest ranking ever garnered by an Alabama player.
Last October, Stephenson lost in the semifinals of the ITA South Regional Championships, an event she’ll look to capture in 2005.
McElveen is the 2005 recipient of the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award. The award is given to a player who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication to her team, with exceptional hard work, courage, sportsmanship and a positive, cooperative attitude that makes people around her play better. It also recognizes scholastic and extracurricular achievements as well as playing accomplishments.
McElveen returned to the courts this season, after shoulder surgery sidelined her in 2004, to play a big part in the Tide’s season. McElveen clinched three matches for Alabama, including big wins over Tennessee and Harvard. She’s also been a leader in the community. McElveen was named to the 2005 SEC “Good Works” team as well.
“This award signifies someone very special in Cissie Leary,” Mainz said. “Natalie is truly deserving of the Sportsmanship award. She has overcome many challenging situations in her career at Alabama. She proved her commitment and determination when she refused to allow surgery to end her career. I feel Natalie has done an excellent job of inspiring her team and representing Cissie in an honorable manner.”