CULLOWHEE, N.C. - For a second-consecutive year, Western Carolina had six women’s tennis players named Scholar-Athletes by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). Collectively, the squad received the organization’s All-Academic Team Award for 2016-17, earning recognition for a fourth-straight year and the eighth-time overall since 2003.
Rising senior Elizabeth Ansari was honored for a third-straight year, while rising juniors Savannah Taranto and Alexa Webb were recognized for a second time. WCU’s rising sophomores Lauren McCall, Madison Riley, and Jordan Strickland each received the award for a first time. All six of WCU’s honorees were named to the 2016-17 SoCon Academic Honor Roll for grade point averages above a 3.0, while eligible student-athletes Ansari, Taranto, and Webb were selected to the Spring 2017 Academic All-Southern Conference team.
Additionally, Riley (Chemistry, 3.92) and Webb (Marketing, 3.90) received the prestigious SoCon Commissioner’s Medal, awarded to student-athletes with annual GPAs of 3.8 or higher.
Collectively as a team, WCU’s women’s tennis student-athletes compiled a team GPA of 3.744.
"I'm very proud of our girls for receiving the ITA All-Academic Team Award,” said head coach Michaela Kissell-Eddins. “To also have all six letter winners on our roster receive the individual Scholar-Athlete Award is a true testament to how much effort these young ladies put into their studies. It is very important to us as a coaching staff that our girls pride themselves in their academic success, and I believe these awards reflect their hard word off the court."
WCU was among six Southern Conference schools honored, joined by Chattanooga, Furman, Mercer, UNCG, and Wofford, with a combined 35 SoCon women’s tennis players recognized. WCU’s six honorees was tied for the most in the league with Mercer.
The ITA All-Academic Team award is open to any ITA program that has a cumulative team grade point average of 3.20 or above (on a 4.00 scale). All varsity letter winners should be factored into the cumulative team GPA for the current academic year (including fall 2016 and spring 2017).
In order to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status a player must meet the following criteria: 1.) be a varsity letter winner; 2.) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year; and 3.) have been enrolled at their present school for at least 2 semesters (including freshman through senior year).
Overall, 720 teams and 3,908 scholar-athletes across all divisions were recognized with the award. At the NCAA Division I level, a combined 302 men’s and women’s teams and 1,521 scholar athletes were recognized.
For more information on the ITA, visit www.itatennis.com.
Western Carolina University'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
2017: Elizabeth Ansari, Lauren McCall, Madison Riley, Jordan Strickland, Savannah Taranto, and Alexa Webb
Team Recipient Years: 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17