With the season McPherson College’s tennis teams have enjoyed, it’s no wonder the honors keep pouring in for the Bulldogs.
Both Bulldog teams, which have qualified for nationals, received numerous Central Region awards today from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Justin Stuckey, in his first year as Bulldog coach, was named Coach of the Year and the Bulldogs had more awards than any team in the country.
The Central Region includes Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Idaho.
"We are having a great season as a team this year," Stuckey said. "But it's great to see our Bulldogs receive individual recognition on the national level as well."
Joan-Marc Fajula Rodriguez was chosen the NAIA Central Region ITA Player to Watch. The sophomore ended the regular season 9-5 in singles and 12-4 in doubles. In the KCAC Tournament, he went 1-1 in singles and 2-0 in doubles.
"Joan-Marc, who is our sophomore captain, has played very well this year at the No. 1 position for singles and doubles," Stuckey said. "He has proven that he can play high-level tennis with some of the best players in the country. He is a great competitor and deserves this honor. His future is bright."
Three Mac women also earned honors.
Nikki Vorhees was named the Player to Watch for the Central Region. The No. 1 player for the Bulldogs, Vorhees compiled a 7-10 regular season record and went 13-4 in doubles, teamed up with her sister Brooke.
"This was Nikki's first year playing the No. 1 singles position and she did a great job of it by beating a lot of the players that were ranked in the country," Stuckey said. "Nikki played and competed well against some of the top players in the country in both the NAIA and NCAA D-II. She has another year to play and really has a great chance to be a nationally ranked singles player to go along with her doubles ranking."
The senior Vorhees, Brooke, was named the ITA Central Region Senior Player of the Year for her performances in her final year of eligibility. The California native went 6-7 in singles this season and 11-4 in doubles.
"This award could not go to a more deserving student-athlete," Stuckey said. "Brooke played the No. 2 singles slot this year and was ranked consistently in the region for both singles and doubles. She was a leader the entire season and has had a great career here at McPherson. It's great to see her get an award identifying her as the top senior tennis player in the region."
The ITA's Most Improved Player for the Central Region went to Mac’s Brittany Gourlay. The senior had a terrific season at the No. 4 and No. 5 spot, 12-5 in singles and 9-8 in doubles. She is 4-0 in postseason play.
"Brittany is a senior captain for our team and played a very important role on our team throughout the year," Stuckey said. "She played in every match this season, both in singles and doubles. As the season played it out, it was very easy to see just how much she improved from the fall to the spring. It's great to see Brittany be recognized as the most improved player in the entire region."
Both Mac teams will be competing in the NAIA National Tournament next week in Mobile, Ala.