April 27, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's and women's tennis teams took some time to honor the past year's accomplishments at the 16th annual Advantage Illinois Tennis Awards Banquet held at the Round Barn Banquet Center Monday evening. The players, coaches and support staff associated with the teams all vote on the awards.
On the men's side, the Advantage Illinois Most Valuable Player award went to senior Marc Spicjaric. Spicijaric, an All-Big Ten selection, has been an important part of Illinois' success this season. The Wesley Chapel, Fla. native, is currently No. 75 in singles in the ITA rankings and No. 38 in doubles along with partner Marek Czerwinski.
Sophomore Abe Souza took home the Scholar-Athlete Award (3.76 grade point average in History) and earned the Strength and Conditioning Award; junior Marek Czerwinski was named the Most Improved Player and also won the Chris Martin Fighting Illini Spirit Award. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Dennis Nevolo was tabbed the Player to Watch.
The women's MVP award was shared by junior Megan Fudge and redshirt-sophomore Leigh Finnegan. Fudge was recently named an All-Big Ten selection for the third straight year. The Kaarst, Germany native, was named Big Ten Player of the Week once this season and has compiled a 28-7 singles record, her third straight 20-win season for the Illini. Finnegan also received All-Big Ten honors, the first of her career. The Wilmington, Del. native has accumulated a 21-11 record on the year, primarily at the No. 1 singles spot for the Fighting Illini.
Junior Christine Stromberg earned the Scholar-Athlete award for her 3.88 GPA in Recreation, Sport, and Tourism and also earned the Strength and Conditioning Award. Junior Kristina Minor took home the Brianna Knue Fighting Illini Spirit Award, while freshman Amy Allin was designated as the Most Improved Player. Fellow freshman Chelcie Abajian was named the Player to Watch on the women's side.
Both teams now await their NCAA Tournament fate when the 2009 NCAA Division I team selections are announced on Tuesday, April 28, at 4:20 p.m. CT on ESPNews. The team brackets will be posted on the NCAA websites (www.NCAA.com and www.NCAA.org) shortly after the completion of the televised announcement.