Mountain West Earns ITA Regional Awards
SKILLMAN, N.J. – Three coaches and seven student-athletes from the Mountain West earned 2015 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Mountain Region honors this week.
2015 ITA Division I Men’s Mountain Region Awards
Assistant Coach of the Year – Ben Dunbar, New Mexico
Dunbar joined Lobos’ head coach Bart Scott in guiding the Lobos to an MW regular season championship and a 20-11 overall record in their first season together as a staff. New Mexico made its first NCAA appearance since 2009 and won 16 of its last 20 matches of the season. Dunbar is the third Lobo to earn the award following in the footsteps of Scott (2012) and former assistant Loren Dils (200, 2003, 2005 and 2008).
Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award – Grant Taylor, Air Force
Most Improved Player (Senior) of the Year – Grant Taylor, Air Force
Taylor was the captain of the Falcons team this season, earning All-Mountain West doubles honors for the third consecutive season and adding singles accolades. The Air Force wins leader for the year with 24, Taylor helped the Falcons reach the 10-victories mark for the sixth straight campaign and set new attendance records at home matches.
Senior Player of the Year – Garrett Patton, Boise State
Patton completed his final season with the Broncos by leading the team to its fourth-consecutive Mountain West men’s championship and berth in the NCAA Tournament. He is a two-time all-MW honoree in doubles and in singles as a senior. During his senior campaign, he had a team-best 24-10 singles mark and 21-15 doubles record.
Player to Watch – Hayden Sabatka, New Mexico
Sabatka competed at the No. 1 and No. 2 singles positions for New Mexico. The Lobo sophomore finished the season with a 16-16 overall singles record and 17-8 double record. He is a two-time All-Mountain West singles honoree and earned All-MW doubles accolades in 2015 paired with Bart Van Leijsen.
Rookie of the Year – Bart Van Leijsen, New Mexico
Van Leijsen, the 2015 Mountain West Freshman of the Year, wrapped up the year with an 18-11 singles mark and 23-8 record in doubles. In the fall, he became the first UNM men’s tennis player to reach a regional championship match as a freshman, reaching the final doubles match of the USTA/ITA Mountain Regionals with James Hignett. Van Leijsen received all-conference honors for his doubles play with Hayden Sabatka during the spring season.
2015 ITA Division I Women’s Mountain Region Awards
Wilson Coach of the Year – Erica Perkins Jasper, New Mexico
Perkins Jasper led the Lobos, the No. 2 seed, to their first-ever MW women’s tennis championship on April 26 in her third season leading the program. New Mexico made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2006 and tallied wins over several nationally-ranked opponents throughout the season including Denver, Utah, Houston and Kansas. Additionally, UNM was ranked as high as No. 34 in the ITA rankings this season, its top mark since 2004.
Assistant Coach of the Year – Maciej Bogusz, Wyoming
Bogusz helped get the No. 5-seeded Cowgirls into the 2015 championship final. He just completed his third season with head coach Dean Clower and Wyoming, who posted a 15-6 spring record and was undefeated against Mountain West competition at 5-0.
Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award – Natasha Rizvi, Air Force
Rizvi was the Falcons’ team captain and most valuable player in 2014-15. The senior recorded an 18-17 singles record and earned All-MW honors in singles and doubles this season, leading Air Force to a sixth consecutive winning season of 18-9. She is the winningest player in school history with 170 career combined wins in singles and doubles.
Senior Player of the Year – McKenzie Davis, Utah State
Davis finished her Utah State career as the school record holder in total wins (168), singles wins (91), doubles wins (77), singles wins in a season (28) and doubles wins in a season (22). The No. 1 player for the Aggies captured an individual title at the ITA Mountain Region Tournament in the fall. Davis also garnered All-Mountain West honors in singles and doubles this season.
Most Improved Player (Senior) of the Year – Natasha Smith, New Mexico
Smith transferred into New Mexico before her junior season and helped guide the Lobos to several accomplishments over the two years. She competed at No. 1 and No. 2 singles for UNM, finishing the season with an overall singles record of 17-14 and an 11-16 doubles record. Smith was an All-MW singles honoree in 2015 and clinched UNM’s 4-2 win in the MW Championship finals.
The 2015 ITA national award winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 19.