Southern Arkansas University’s men's and women's tennis teams, as well as nine athletes, earned All-Academic honors.
Both teams earn this honor to cap off their first season back in competition; a year that saw the women's team win the Great American Conference in the regular season and the conference tournament before falling in the regional finals.
The men's team won the GAC regular season and the Central Regional I, making the National Championship tournament as the No. 16 seed.
Four from the women's team – Aurora Novati, Joanna Nowakowska, Simone Simas and Brenda Teixeira – received recognition, as well as five from the men's team – Iker Brull, Yuri Gondouin, Gustavo Kerber, Aleksandr Pokusaev and Stuart Rehfuss.
Novati, a business management major with a 3.70 GPA, was the Mulerider's line one competitor for much of the season which saw the Muleriders go 25-5 overall, 6-0 in GAC play and 10-0 at the Live Oaks Tennis Courts.
An engineering and physics-science major with a 4.00 GPA, Nowakowska was one of three players to be voted to the All-GAC First Team unanimously, as the Poland international notched 18 singles wins this spring, including six wins at home and five against league opponents. A lock at line two, Nowakowska won four-straight matches three separate times this spring.
Simas, a native of Ponta Delgada, Azores, Portugal, claimed the Flight 4 Individual Women's Title at the GAC Individual Championships this past October. A K-12 Physical Education and Health major with a 4.00 GPA, Simas recorded a 19-5 singles record and won all five of her matches against league competition, including a win over No. 38 Lindy Carpenter of Harding who is currently the fourth-highest ranked GAC player in the country.
Teixeira, like Simas, also claimed an individual title, winning the Flight 7 Individual Women's Title at the GAC Individual Championships this past October. In the spring, the Engineering major with a 4.00 GPA went undefeated in six appearances.
A native of Spain, Brull, an education major with a 3.81 GPA, won his lone match of the spring, a 6-2, 6-2 win in the Muleriders' win over William Jewell.
A business administration major with a 3.60 GPA, Gondouin went 11-7 in singles competition in the spring and 12-8 in doubles competition as the Muleriders went 20-6 overall, 4-0 in GAC play and 9-0 at Live Oaks Tennis Courts.
Kerber, a native of Brazil, went 3-1 in singles competition while going 16-8 in doubles competition, majoring in engineering with a 3.51 GPA.
Pokusaev, a native of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, won 13 singles matches this season, including his last four to finish the regular season with three wins coming against league competition. Before that streak to close out the schedule, the computer science major with a 3.63 GPA won seven of his previous nine matches as he primarily played lines five and six for the Muleriders this spring; in doubles play, he was a part of 12 victories this spring.
Rehfuss, the 44th-ranked singles player by the ITA, caps off a season that saw the German international and mainstay at line one named the ITA Division II Male Player to Watch for the Central Region, as well as unanimous selection to the All-GAC First Team. This season, Rehfuss, an English major with a 3.80 GPA, went 16-6 record in singles competition and an impressive 5-1 in three set matches, including three wins after dropping the first set. In doubles action, the sophomore teamed up with Pokusaev to register ten of the former's 13 such victories.
The ITA All-Academic Team award is open to any ITA program that has a cumulative team grade point average of 3.20 or above (on a 4.00 scale). All varsity letter winners should be factored into the cumulative team GPA for the current academic year (including fall 2018 and spring 2019).
In order to earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status a player must meet the following criteria: 1.) be a varsity letter winner, 2.) have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and 3.) have been enrolled at their present school for at least 2 semesters (including freshman through senior year).
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