By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
After tremendous NCAA seasons, Lauren Embree of Florida and Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia have been named the 2013 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) National College Players of the Year.
Additionally, Sabrina Santamaria and Kaitlyn Christian of USC were named the ITA National Women's Doubles Team of the Year, while Henrique Cunha and Raphael Hemmeler of Duke were honored on the men's side.
The ITA College Player of the Year Awards are given to the male and female singles players who have had the most outstanding year in college tennis. The collegiate players will be honored on Saturday, July 13, in Newport, R.I., at a special awards luncheon during the Rolex Hall of Fame Enshrinement Weekend immediately prior to the 2013 International Tennis Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony.
Embree concluded her four-year career as a Gator with a staggering 117-16 singles record, including a 26-3 mark during the 2012-13 season, placing her 12th on Florida's all-time career wins list. The senior from Marco Island, Fla., claimed the 2012 ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championships singles title in early October and also played for Team USA at the 2012 Master'U BNP Paribas, an eight-team international tournament held in France, where she guided the Americans to their third title in the last four years.
In the spring season, Embree led Florida to its fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament title. Her 10-0 mark in the SEC gave her an unblemished 38-0 career record in conference play, which earned her SEC Player of the Year distinction for the third time in her career and established her as the only player in the conference's storied history to earn the award three times. Embree earned ITA All-America honors for singles this season, making her a five-time ITA All-American (four singles, one doubles).
Jenkins, also a senior, capped a phenomenal final year as a Cavalier with a pair of national titles, including Virginia’s first NCAA Division I Team Championship in school history. The College Park, Ga., native began his senior campaign by winning the prestigious USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships singles title in New York in November. From there, he climbed to No. 1 in the ITA rankings for the first time in his career on April 16.
Jenkins’ 42 singles wins during his senior season is tied for third-most in program history and bumps his career total to 140, which also places him third amongst Cavalier greats. He finished his illustrious career as a four-time ITA All-American and as winner of the ITA/Farnsworth National Senior Player of the Year award.
The Pac-12 has now produced the last six NCAA Women's Doubles Champions, with USC's Santamaria and Christian recently clinching the 2013 title, a first in school history. The duo became the first women's doubles team in collegiate history to complete the "triple crown," capturing all three major collegiate championships in the same season: The ITA/Riviera Women's All-American Championship, the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championship and the NCAA D-I Championship. With three national titles to their name this season, the Trojan tandem has had one of the most dominating seasons of any doubles team in college history, going 37-1, including a 15-1 mark at first doubles.
Cunha and Hemmeler had an outstanding season together, totaling 39 wins to rank second in single-season wins in Duke history. In the fall, the pair won the USTA/ITA Carolina Regional Championships doubles title and followed the victory up with the coveted USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships doubles crown and a trip to the semifinals of the NCAA Men's Doubles Championships. For Cunha, the award wraps up one of the most successful careers a Blue Devil player has ever had, as he leaves the courts with over 100 wins in both singles and doubles -- just the fourth player in program history to reach the century mark in both categories.