CULLOWHEE, N.C. - Nine student-athletes on Western Carolina's women's tennis team were named Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) while collectively, the squad was honored by the organization with its All-Academic Team Award.
Seniors Shannon Bettiol, Stacia Kissell, Erin Maguire, Megan McLinden and Nicole Nielly along with sophomore Elizabeth Ansari and freshmen Gaby Hurt, Savannah Taranto and Alexa Webb were all recognized individually for their achievements off the court in the classroom. It is the fourth honor for Maguire and Nielly, the third for Bettiol, Kissell and McLinden and the second for Ansari. All told, 18 different Catamount women's tennis players have been honored since 2002-03.
This year also marks the eighth time the team has been honored since 2002. The nine individuals set a new program mark surpassing the record six recognized in 2012-13 and 2014-15 for WCU.
Western Carolina was one of four schools including Bucknell, Quinnipiac and Dayton to place nine student-athletes on the list to lead all of NCAA Division I.
The individual awards are bestowed upon varsity student-athletes that have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters and possess a grade point average of 3.50 or higher on a 4.0 scale for the academic year. The team award goes to ITA programs that have a cumulative team GPA of 3.20 or above.
Ansari achieved a 3.82 GPA during the 2015-16 academic year in the elementary education program. Bettiol posted a 3.91 GPA during her senior year while majoring in sport management. Hurt compiled a 3.87 GPA during her first year on campus while studying communications. Kissell wrapped up her studies with a perfect 4.00 GPA in anthropology while fellow senior Maguire also posted a perfect 4.00 GPA while working on her marketing degree. McLinden followed suit with her own perfect 4.00 in biology during her senior campaign. Nielly posted a 3.87 GPA while studying both marketing and finance during her final year on the team while freshmen Taranto and Webb posted a 4.00 and a 3.93 GPA, respectively, during their first two semesters. Taranto is studying biology while Webb is working on a marketing degree.
WCU is one of six schools from the Southern Conference to earn the ITA All-Academic Team award including Chattanooga, ETSU, Furman, Mercer and Samford. A total of 29 individuals received the Scholar-Athlete distinction from the SoCon. WCU led the way with nine recipients while Chattanooga, ETSU and Samford each had five. Mercer placed three on the list while Furman had a pair.
For more information on the ITA, visit www.itatennis.com.
WCU's All-Time ITA Honorees:
2003: Kristin Cotton
2004: Kristin Cotton and Rocio Perez
2005: Kristin Cotton-Ikard, Trish Hanson, Ashley Harris, Sara Ryckman and Susanna Sjokvist
2006: Trish Hanson and Susanna Sjokvist
2007: Trish Hanson and Susanna Sjokvist
2008: Trish Hanson and Susanna Sjokvist
2013: Shannon Bettiol, Karen Jiminez, Stacia Kissell, Erin Maguire, Nicole Nielly and Sara Ruiz Pajares
2014: Stacia Kissell, Erin Maguire, Megan McLinden, Nicole Nielly and Sara Ruiz Pajares
2015: Elizabeth Ansari, Shannon Bettiol, Erin Maguire, Megan McLinden, Montse Mesalles and Nicole Nielly
2016: Elizabeth Ansari, Shannon Bettiol, Gaby Hurt, Stacia Kissell, Erin Maguire, Megan McLinden, Nicole Nielly, Savannah Taranto and Alexa Webb
Team Recipient Years: