UT junior All-American Aeriel Ellis becomes the first Longhorn to win the prestigious national honor from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
ATHENS, Ga. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced Tuesday the selection of Texas junior All-American Aeriel Ellis (Hayward, Calif.) as the national recipient of the ITA/Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship. Ellis, who was announced last week as the Cissie Leary Award recipient for the ITA’s Texas Region, is the first Longhorn to win the national award in its 15-year history.
The award is given to a junior or senior who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication to her team. The ITA annually rewards a deserving NCAA Division I women’s tennis player who brings exceptional hard work, courage, sportsmanship and a positive, cooperative attitude that makes people around her play better.
“This award goes to someone of great character who excels on the tennis court and has overcome adversity,” said UT head coach Patty Fendick-McCain. “Aeriel is an inspiration to all of us given what she has been through, personally. As a coach, it is gratifying to see her be recognized because she is so deserving.”
Ellis, who has played at the top singles position for the Longhorns since her freshman season, missed five matches this season while she and her family attended to her ailing mother, who battled cancer. Mrs. Linda Ellis passed away in late March.
“I want to thank my team and my Texas family for their support this season,” Aeriel Ellis said. “It means a lot to have a great group of people behind you.”
“Aeriel always puts her teammates first,” Fendick-McCain added. “She is a humble leader who sets an example every single day with her actions, and that strengthens the core of our team. Aeriel has helped to create a winning culture on our team through her leadership, unselfish attitude and her knack for putting everybody else first.”
The award, which dates back to 1997, was named in memory of the late Cissie Leary, a former women’s tennis coach at The University of Pennsylvania.
Ellis helped the Longhorns win their first Big 12 Championship since 2005 with a pair of wins against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals and top-seeded Texas Tech in the semifinals. Ellis helped the 10th-ranked Longhorns reach the round of 16 at the NCAA Championship, as she defeated Nebraska’s 45th-ranked Mary Weatherholt in straight sets in UT’s NCAA round-of-32 win over the Cornhuskers.
Ellis has qualified to compete in the NCAA Championship’s singles draw for a third time in as many years. The 40th-ranked Ellis will take on Georgia’s 58th-ranked Maho Kowase on Wednesday at 2 p.m. Central in Athens, Ga. Live scoring will be available at GeorgiaDogs.com.
Ellis has qualified to compete in all nine national championship events contested during her three seasons as a Longhorn.