1 Ranked Tennis players
Georgia Gwinnett College tennis player Valeria Podda finished the 2015 season ranked the No. 1 player in NAIA (Special Photo)
SKILLMAN, N.J. — Valeria Podda became the first-ever Georgia Gwinnett tennis player to earn a national No. 1 ranking in singles on Thursday as the Intercollegiate Tennis Association released its final rankings for the 2015 season.
Podda, who spent the entire season ranked in the top four, dealt previous No. 1 Nour Abbes of Xavier (La.) a three-set loss at the NAIA National Championships to clinch a second-straight trip to the national championship match for the Grizzlies’ women’s team. Abbes, who had spent nearly two full seasons as the top-ranked player in the country, dropped to No. 2.
“Valeria just had an incredible season for us, ” GGC head coach Chase Hodges said. “I’m really proud of how hard she’s worked since she’s been here. To be the first player to earn a No. 1 ranking is a great achievement, but to finish the year No. 1 is even better. I’m happy that we get to have her here for two more seasons. She’s a great leader and captain, and not only that, she’s a great student in the classroom.”
Podda joined 43rd-ranked Laura Wehner in doubles for most of the season, and the duo finished the year ranked No. 3 nationally.
Judith van Fraaijenhoven, who was named an All-American for the second consecutive season, ended No. 47 in the singles rankings.
On the men’s side, each of the top three players in the back-to-back national champion Grizzly line-up maintained their rankings, beginning with Jordan Cox at No. 2. Kevin Konfederak, the ITA National Freshman of the Year, placed fifth, and Matias Hatem, who won the clinching point over Embry-Riddle in the championship match, checked in at No. 6.
“To finish with three in the top six is almost unbelievable, but it’s obviously well-deserved, ” Hodges said. “That shows you the kind of team we had this year. Jordan, Kevin and Matias are each as good as anyone in the country, so to have all three on your side is a great thing. I’m proud that they were able to end the year strong.”
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