Women's Tennis Earns ITA All-Academic Team Award
Monday, August 06, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (@pierson_sid)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s tennis team not only turned in its best Division I season in program history in 2011-12, but it also excelled in the classroom, receiving an Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) All-Academic Team award.

Needing a 3.2 cumulative team grade-point average (GPA) to qualify for the ITA’s annual academic honor, the Eagles’ eight-player roster last year sported an impressive 3.62 combined GPA. Out of the eight players, seven achieved a 3.0 GPA for the 2011-12 academic year.

Of those aforementioned seven, five were also lauded with an ITA Scholar-Athlete accolade. Junior Morgan Bechtel (Toledo, Ohio/St. Ursula Academy), sophomore Bettina Botha (Cape Town, South Africa/De Kuilen HS), freshman Marina Diez (Miami, Fla./West Broward HS), junior Melissa Narzissenfeld (Tampa, Fla./Academy of Holy Names) and freshman Zhoe Solaun (Gainesville, Fla./F.W. Buchholz HS) all earned ITA Scholar-Athlete distinction. To qualify for the individual award, the student-athlete must finish with a 3.5 GPA for the academic year and have been enrolled at their school for at least two semesters.

“I’m extremely proud of our performance in the classroom this past year,” said head coach Jennifer Gabou. “To garner these accolades show what committed young women we have on our team.”

Five programs from the Atlantic Sun Conference earned the team award, while FGCU and ETSU had a league-high five student-athletes earn the ITA Scholar-Athlete award. Bechtel, Narzissenfeld and senior Jen Evans (Fort Myers, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) were recognized earlier in the summer for their academic excellence with an A-Sun Conference Scholar award for maintaining a 3.4 GPA over at least the last two years.

The academic accolade comes on the heels of a season in which FGCU won a program Division I record 10 matches, including a 6-3 record in the A-Sun. Appearing in their first-ever A-Sun Championship in first year of postseason eligibility, the Green and Blue earned a No. 3 seed in their first-ever A-Sun Championships and defeated Jacksonville (4-2) in the quarterfinals. The Eagles ended their run with a lost to host ETSU (4-1) in the semifinals.

Freshman Sarah Means (Wesley Chapel, Fla./Wiregrass Ranch HS) was named to the A-Sun All-Conference second team and selected to the All-Freshmen team. Botha and Bechtel were named to the inaugural A-Sun Academic All-Conference team with Botha being a unanimous selection. FGCU returns five of its six starters in the singles lineup in hopes of a return trip to the A-Sun Championships next season.