Tennessee men’s tennis players Chris Racz and Kiril Tcherveniachki were named ITA scholar-athletes last week in recognition of their academic achievements during the Fall 2006 and Spring 2007 school semesters.
“I’m very proud of Chris and Kiril,” head men’s tennis coach Sam Winterbotham said. “They represent what a student-athlete should be all about, a hard-worker on and off the court. This achievement is something I want all of my players to strive for. Hopefully, this is the first of many academic awards for Chris, and for (departing senior) Kiril this is a great way to wrap up his career at UT.”
This is the first time in the 25-year history of the award that UT had two players recognized in the same season. Past winners include, David Baxendine who was honored in 2005, former All-America and coach Chris Mahony was recognized in 1995 and 1996 and Rhain Buth was noted in 1993.
In order to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status a player must meet the following criteria: 1.) be a varsity letter winner, 2.) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and 3.) have been enrolled at their present school for at least 2 semesters (including freshman thorough senior year).
Racz and Tcherveniachki also had successful years on the tennis court. Racz finished his rookie campaign with a 22-8 record, clinching six victories for UT. Tcherveniachki finished his final season with an 8-1 record in SEC play and also had a career-long 11 match win streak during the regular season. The Auckland, New Zealand native finished with a record of 23-9 for the season.
Tennessee men’s tennis player Chris Racz continued his strong play Tuesday afternoon defeating Michigan’s Mike Sroczynski in the championship match to win the 2007 ITA National Summer Championships hosted by Indiana University.
“I played in all the qualifiers this summer and I feel like I got into a good rhythm that just continued this week in the championships,” Racz said. “I think the win helps me get ready for the upcoming season and really gives me a confidence boost going into next season. It’s always been an individual goal of mine to be ranked in the singles poll and this should help me achieve that.”
Racz defeated Sroczynski 7-6, 6-1 in the final match. Earlier in the day, the UT lettermen defeated tournament No. 2-seed, Will Gray of Tulsa, in the semifinals. Racz played well all tournament dropping only one set during his six-match win streak through the championships. The Philadelphia native is Tennessee’s first ITA Summer Champion since Wade Orr won back-to-back titles in 2001-02.
The tournament title means Racz automatically earns a wild card spot into the Main Draw of the Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s All-American Championships in October. The win also means that Racz has a good chance of accomplishing one of his individual goals and be ranked when the first ITA singles poll comes out in the beginning of September.
“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of Chris,” head coach Sam Winterbotham said. “He has traveled all across the country this summer competing in every tournament he could and has really shown the commitment to tennis that (associate head coach) Chris (Woodruff) and I expect from our guys. I’m ecstatic about his results and his development this summer and I look forward to getting him back home and building on all of his progress.”
Racz, who will begin his sophomore year next week at UT, was named an ITA Scholar-Athlete last week.
During his freshman campaign, Racz appeared to be playing his best tennis as the season ended and his play this summer has only further proved that notion. In his Big Orange rookie season, Racz finished with a record of 22-8 and also clinched a team-high six victories for UT.
The ITA National Summer Championships presented by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) are the pinnacle of the ITA Collegiate Summer Circuit, which was played at 24 regional sites throughout the country last month. This year, 2,589 players have participated in circuit events, the second highest participation total since its inception in 1993 and just shy of last year’s record of 2,624.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information