Byrne adds to legacy by winning Southeast Region ITA/NCAA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (May 12, 2009) - Just days after leading the ETSU women's tennis team to its second NCAA Tournament appearance senior Tara Byrne (Johnson City) received the prestigious Southeast Region ITA/NCAA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award the ITA announced Tuesday.


The ITA/NCAA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship award goes to the women's tennis player who displays dedication and commitment to her team, which has enhanced her team's performance and exemplified the spirit of college tennis.


With the honor Byrne joins former Lady Buc players Olya Batsula (Southeast and National winner of the ITA Cissie Leary Award) and Masha Illina (Southeast ITA Cissie Leary Award) as ETSU award winners from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.


"For Tara to get this award is a great testament to all the hard work and effort she has brought to this program over the past four seasons," said head coach Steve Brooks. "I hope this and her entire career will inspire other local girls to follow her path and become good enough to play at ETSU."


This past season Byrne led the Lady Bucs to its third Atlantic Sun Conference title in school history and second NCAA appearance during her career. The First-Team All-A-Sun member and tournament MVP also became the second player in program history to surpass 100 career wins. Back on April 13, the local Johnson City native became ETSU's all-time career wins leader, passing Illina's mark of 103 victories. Overall the four-time all-conference member and team captain leaves ETSU with 107 career wins, which tops all players in the A-Sun this past season.


Off the court Byrne excelled even more earning a spot as a 2008 ITA Scholar Athlete and a three-time member of the A-Sun All-Academic team. Byrne also spend numerous hours volunteering her time in community service with such organizations as Toys for Tots, Locks for Love, the Special Olympics and Relay for Life.


"From the first day Tara stepped on campus she was a leader," said Brooks. "In four years she was never late for practice and was always looking out what's best for her teammates. Tara has beat ranked players throughout her career, but being individually ranked was never her goal - her focus was to improve our program and leave a legacy for future players to build on. To sum it up, I asked a player we were recruiting if she knew what I expected from her- her response, I need to be like Tara Byrne."


Below is a list of all the 2009 regional winners of the ITA/NCAA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award.


East                   Pamela Duran                University of Richmond

Southeast        Tara Byrne                  ETSU

South                 Shelley Godwin              University of Alabama

Midwest            Dunja Antunovic            DePaul University

Central               Mackenzie White          University of New Mexico

Southwest         Macall Harkins              TCU

West                  Danielle Steinberg          University of Arizona

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