Three from Xavier earn ITA regional awards
May 11, 2009
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana
student-athletes Terry Richardson, Mikhail Vaval and Anastesia Opata received
Intercollegiate Tennis Association/NAIA Region IV (South) awards Monday.
Richardson, a senior from Ellenwood, Ga., and
Stockbridge High School, won the regional men's Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for
Leadership and Sportsmanship. Vaval, a sophomore from New Orleans and De La
Salle High School, received the regional men's Player to Watch Award. Opata,
a junior from Lawrenceville, Ga., and Central Gwinnett High School, earned the
regional women's Player to Watch Award.
The awards came on the eve of the NAIA National
Championships at Copeland-Cox Tennis Center in Mobile, Ala. Xavier's men —
16-6 and No. 18 in the final coaches poll — will play Oklahoma Christian at
9 a.m., and the 15th-ranked Gold Nuggets (18-6) will play Union (Ky.) at 1 p.m.
in opening-round matches Tuesday.
Richardson is 17-7 in singles and 17-5 in doubles in 2008-09
and the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second time
in three seasons. He was No. 22 in the ITA/NAIA singles rankings of April 16.
"Terry keeps our team together and upbeat, and he is
the bridge between the players and the coach," Xavier coach Alan Green said.
"He guides us spirtually, leading us in prayer before every match. His 110-percent work
ethic filters down to everyone on the team. He has been a big help in scouting the
Atlanta area, where he's from, and helping to recruit players to come to Xavier."
Vaval is 12-8 in singles and 13-6 in doubles this season, and
Opata, a first-team All-American as a sophomore, is 18-5 in singles and 20-3 in doubles.
Copeland-Cox Tennis Center, formerly Mobile Tennis Center,
will be the site of the NAIA tournaments for the sixth consecutive year. Twenty-four
men's teams and 24 women's teams will compete. Both Xavier teams received
automatic bids by winning the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference tournaments April 24.