ITA announces winners

May 10, 2016

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the 2016 Junior and Community Colleges national women’s award winners on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. Players and coaches that received ITA regional awards were eligible for national consideration.

The 2016 Junior and Community College’s men’s national award winners will be announced on Monday, May 16, 2016.

Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Brian Slack, ASA Miami

Since taking the reins at ASA Miami, Slack has posted a 50-14 record, including a 23-1 mark against junior college competition. The Silver Storm entered the 2016 NJCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship with a 21-1 record (14-0 versus junior colleges) and a No. 1 national ranking in the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings. Slack’s teams are talented and compete with toughness, but also display good sportsmanship towards their opponents. He has taught his players how to become better people off of the court, even in difficult circumstances.

ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Cory Bryen, Seminole State College

After serving as a student assistant for three years, Bryen is concluding his second season as assistant coach at Seminole State College. Possessing a great knowledge of tennis, Bryen assists the Lady Trojans with on-court strategy and leading drills in practice. Thanks to Bryen’s hard work, the Lady Trojans have risen to No. 3 in the Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings.

ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award: Paige Gibson, Meridian Community College

A leader on the team and in the community, Gibson strives to be a servant leader; one who serves others before they fulfill the duties of leadership. She has participated in and organized the Breast Cancer Awareness Street Strut Event, the Salvation Army bell ringing during the holidays and Collinsville, Mississippi, tornado relief cleanup, and Read Across America Day for elementary students in the community. Meridian’s team captain, Gibson aims to attend law school after obtaining bachelor’s in both marketing and political science.

ITA Sophomore Player of the Year: Macarena Olivares, ASA Miami

The 2015 ITA Rookie of the Year, Olivares has once again led the Silver Storm to a No. 1 national ranking, while also holding the No. 2 ranking in singles and doubles. Olivares, who possesses a 3.8 GPA, is 20-2 in singles and doubles play this season, playing the No. 1 position in both. She won the 2015 JUCO National Small College Championship and was a finalist in the NSCC Super Bowl. She’s looking to defend her NJCAA Women’s Tennis Championship singles and doubles national titles in 2016.

ITA Most Improved Player of the Year: Stephanie Nickles, Pima College

After spending last season in the No. 5 singles position, Nickles moved up to the No. 3 and 4 positions in 2016, and improved her record from 8-8 a year ago to 11-7 this season. A player known to be the first to cheer on and support her teammates, Nickles also posted an 11-7 record in doubles for Pima.

ITA Player to Watch: Emily Chang, Mesa Community College

In 2015-16, Chang had a combined record of 52-3, including 27-1 in singles. Her lone loss came against Division I competition, and she’s dropped just four sets all season. Chang won the ITA SoCal Singles Regional Championship. According to her coaches, Chang is one of the most active players in doubles, always having a knack for knowing where to be on the court.

ITA Rookie of the Year: Maria Medina, State College of Florida

Medina notched impressive wins in singles and doubles in her first season at the State College of Florida, and in doing so vaulted to the top of both the singles and doubles national rankings. In singles, Medina topped then-No. 1 Macarena Olivares of ASA Miami 7-5, 7-5 in the Region IV singles final, and had an overall singles record of 16-4. In doubles, Medina and teammate Iulia Sergheeva were 18-2, with a pair of wins over ASA Miami’s Olivares and Megane Bianco, the previous No. 1-ranked team in the nation.