Tide Tennis Teams Reap SEC Honors
Both the Alabama men's and women's tennis teams took home post-season SEC honors.
This marks the third SEC Coach of the Year nod for Jenny Mainz, who also won the award in 2011 and 2012. She has led her squad to new heights this season, winning the SEC Championship for the first time while also reaching a program-best national ranking of No. 3. Heading into the NCAA tournament, the Crimson Tide has amassed 22 wins, which are already the most in a season under Mainz and the most for the program since 1984. Alabama also won its first match against Florida in 2014, ending a 37-match losing skid to the Gators.
Mary Anne Daines became the fourth-consecutive Scholar-Athlete of the Year from the Crimson Tide women's team. Daniil Proskura repeated as the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the Bama men's team.
Also for the women, Erin Routliffe earned Co-Freshman of the Year honors, and. In addition, Routliffe was First Team All-SEC and an All-Freshman selection, Maya Jansen and Luicelena Perez were both second team All-SEC picks and Danielle Spielmann an All-Freshman honoree.
The Alabama men's tennis team had three players named All-Southeastern Conference performers, which was announced by the league on Thursday afternoon. Proskura earned first team All-SEC honors for the first time in his career, in addition to repeating as SEC Scholar-Athlete. Becker O'Shaughnessey was named second team All-SEC for the second-straight year, and Nikko Madregallejo was one of eight presented with All-Freshman Team honors.
Throughout her career, Daines has changed the face of the program and has been the consummate student-athlete both on and off the court. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 3.5 years with a bachelor of science in education, majoring in human performance exercise science, all while holding a 4.000 cumulative undergraduate GPA. Daines is currently enrolled in a Master's program in human environmental sciences majoring in sport management. She was the 2012 Elite 89 Award winner as well as a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll selection. Daines has played at the No. 1 singles position throughout her entire career at Alabama and has been ranked nationally in singles and doubles all four seasons.
Routliffe has made an immediate impact in the Tide's lineup, leading Alabama in overall singles wins with 27, including a team-high nine wins against SEC opponents. She is 10-2 from the No. 3 spot in singles and 11-3 at No. 1 doubles in her first season at The Capstone. A two-time SEC Freshman of the Week, Routliffe has been ranked consistently throughout the season in singles and doubles and leads the Tide at the top of the lineup in doubles, earning a career-high ranking of No. 7 with Jansen. Together, they defeated nine nationally-ranked teams in doubles and clinched Alabama's 4-3 win over Florida.
Jansen has six singles wins in SEC play as well as seven wins in doubles against league opponents. She has been ranked consistently throughout the season in singles and doubles and, paired with Routliffe, leads the Tide at the top of the lineup in doubles. Jansen has defeated a pair of nationally-ranked foes in singles as well as nine nationally-ranked teams in doubles and was named SEC Player of the Week on January 22, after having a stellar performance at the Wildcat Invite in her first weekend back from injury.
Perez, member of the SEC All-Tournament Team and a two-time SEC Player of the Week, had two of the biggest clinching wins in program history this season. First, she had an over four-hour battle with Florida's Kourtney Keegan, 7-6(5), 5-7, 7-6(3), to send the experimental-format match into doubles, which Alabama would win. Her second clutch performance was a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Georgia's Mia King after trailing 2-6, 2-4, to clinch the 4-3 win over the Bulldogs and give the Tide its first SEC Championship. In her first season competing at Alabama, Perez is 13-1 overall and 8-0 in SEC play in singles and in the midst of a 12-match winning streak in singles. She also has 16 wins in doubles, including an 8-2 record against league opponents, and is ranked nationally in both singles and doubles.
Spielmann has recorded 20 overall singles wins this season with five of those coming against SEC opponents. She has also added a team-high 27 wins in doubles, including 10 in league play. Spielmann has played consistently at No. 2 singles and No. 2 doubles in her first season at Alabama and has beaten three nationally-ranked opponents in singles and four in doubles. She has also been ranked nationally in both singles and doubles throughout the season.
Alabama Men's Copach George Husack said, "I'm really happy for this group as they have made an impression not only upon us at Alabama but also throughout the conference. The development of student-athletes to perform at such a high and demanding level is a continuous process. For each one of these players, they have made strides over the course of one or more seasons. It's an honor that they should be proud of and let it continue to fuel them for seasons to come."
Proskura, co-captain of the 2014 squad, has excelled throughout his career at The Capstone both athletically and academically. Majoring in finance, he holds a 3.875 GPA and is a two-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and a two-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Proskura was awarded the 2013 ITA Southern Region Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership & Sportsmanship Award as well as the 2014 H. Crow Memorial Scholarship in Real Estate at Alabama. He has made the President's List three semesters and the Dean's List for five semesters while also being a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
On the court, Proskura has ranked as high as No. 12 in singles and No. 7 in doubles nationally this season. Partnered with O'Shaughnessey, the duo beat the No. 1 and No. 2 doubles teams in the nation in consecutive weeks. Proskura leads the Crimson Tide in doubles victories with 16, including 12 at the No. 1 position. He is also in the midst of a five-match winning streak in singles, all coming at the No. 1 spot. Proskura has defeated four nationally-ranked opponents in singles and another four in doubles.
"Daniil has embraced challenges and demanded excellence from himself, his teammates and coaches," said Husack. "From not knowing the English language very well his freshman year, being primarily regarded as a singles player early in his career, experiencing a coaching staff change and not having much of a voice in the direction of our program, to making leaps and bounds on the court, in the classroom and as a team captain is remarkable. He has set the standard for Alabama tennis as a student and athlete."
O'Shaughnessey leads Alabama in overall singles wins with 21 and has ranked as high as No. 51 in singles and No. 7 in doubles. He has also beat four nationally-ranked opponents in singles and another four in doubles. O'Shaughnessey ended the regular season on a four-match winning streak in singles at the No. 2 position.
"Becker arrived on campus last year as our lone freshman and without many expectations," said Husack. "He made a quick and lasting impression then and continued to do so this season. Like Daniil, he has made strides as a student carrying above a 3.5 cumulative GPA as well as seen his tennis game rise to new levels on our team and in the conference. I'm excited for Becker's next two seasons and to witness his continued growth as a complete player and leader of our program."
Madregallejo began the SEC season with three-straight singles victories and leads Alabama in wins against league opponents in singles with five overall. Two of his biggest wins came the last weekend of March where he came from behind to clinch the Tide's win over Vanderbilt, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, before defeating Kentucky's Jerry Lopez, 7-6(4), 6-4, to help Alabama get its first win over the Wildcats since 2009. Following those performances Madregallejo was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
"There were a lot of good freshmen in the conference this season, and it's an honor to have Nikko's impact recognized," said Husack. "He has learned a lot about college and tennis during his first year and been very receptive to learning ways to improve on court as well as in the classroom. He has a bright future ahead of him here at Alabama."