Talbert Awards presented to four juniors

July 13, 2011

NEWPORT, R.I. — The International Tennis Hall of Fame presented the 2010 Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Awards on Saturday, July 9, prior to the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which honored Andre Agassi and Peachy Kellmeyer. The 2010 recipients are Ashok Narayana of Houston, Molly O’Koniewski of Hilton Head, S.C., Jamie Pawid of Castro Valley, Calif., and Samuel Shropshire of Philadelphia.

David Haggerty, Vice President on the USTA Board of Directors; Ashok Narayana of USTA Texas section; Molly O’Koniewski of USTA Southern States; Hall of Famer Donald Dell; Jamie Pawid of USTA Northern California; Samuel Shropshire of USTA Middle States; and Hall of Famer Vic Seixas. Photo by Mike Baz.

Presented annually by the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the four recipients are selected from the 17 sectional nominations of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Awards Committee. Each award winner must be a junior player who exemplifies the finest qualities of sportsmanship in tournament play as well as one who maintains the finest traditions of the great sportsmen/women of tennis, past and present. The award is given in honor of 1967 Hall of Famer Bill Talbert, who was highly regarded for his high standards of sportsmanship.

This year’s Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award recipients were previously announced by the USTA during the 2011 USTA Annual Spring Meeting. Each winner was presented with their official sportsmanship trophy during the Hall of Fame Weekend Luncheon on Saturday, July 9 and participated in many of the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend events, during which tennis icon Andre Agassi was inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Ashok Narayana of USTA Texas section; Molly O’Koniewski of USTA Southern States; 2011 Hall of Fame Inductees Peachy Kellmeyer and Andre Agassi; Jamie Pawid of USTA Northern California.

Ashok Narayana of the USTA Texas section has been praised for his character and prowess on the court many times over the years. Ashok was awarded both the Bob McKinley Sportsmanship Award and the Clarence Mabry Sportsmanship Award from the Texas section in 2009. He was the Southwest Prep School Champion in 2009 and currently serves as the captain of his school tennis team. Ashok also excels in the classroom as a consistent Honor Roll Designee and a member of the National Honor Society for French. In his community, he holds a leadership role in “Cure for Cancer” running events. In the fall, Ashok will attend Columbia University, where he will play tennis.

Molly O’Koniewski is now a member of USTA Southern States, but she began her USTA involvement in the New England section, where she won both her first title and sportsmanship award at the age of 12 at the New England Section Singles Championship. She has been consistently regarded as an elite player and a consummate good sport throughout her junior career. Recently, she was awarded the Bill Ozaki USTA Southern Sportsmanship Award and the USTA Southern Closed Championships Sportsmanship Award. Off the courts, Molly is a dedicated student, a member of the National Honor Society and the editor of her school yearbook. Molly will attend the University of Virginia, where she will play tennis in the fall.

Jamie Pawid of the Northern California section has been recognized for her sportsmanship and skill many times, having received the USTA National Tournament Sportsmanship Award and the NorCal Sectional Sportsmanship Award in 2010, and having won the USTA National Open in 2009. In 2009, Jamie and fellow USTA junior star Julie Leong formed NorCal Xtreme Tennis, an organization intended to promote unity and pride among NorCal tennis players of all ages and abilities. The group hosts regular clinics and programs, utilizing a “juniors helping juniors” philosophy to grow and improve junior tennis in the region. By creating a fun environment for top-ranked juniors to hone their skills, Jamie has played an instrumental role in strengthening the NorCal tennis community.

Samuel Shropshire of USTA Middle States will be a junior at Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia in the fall, where he has played No. 1 singles since his freshman year. Shropshire, who is ranked within the top 100 nationally, is highly regarded for his poise and gracious nature by tournament directors and fellow competitors nationwide. Samuel was awarded the USTA Middle States Section Sportsmanship Award in 2008 and the USTA Middle States Junior Sportsmanship Award in 2009. Additionally, Samuel is a volunteer at Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, where he mentors a young tennis player from an under-resourced family. Samuel was the youngest volunteer in the program by more than a decade, and he has developed a strong bond with his protégé, regularly lending his support in both athletics and academics.