Honoring top student athletes, college scholarship graduates and award winners

Guests of honor Commissioner Lawrence Weekly & Mike Agassi

Las Vegas, Nevada - April 29, 2011 - The USTA-Nevada Junior Awards Banquet and Nate Schulman Tennis Ball is a formal sit down dinner held each year to celebrate the accomplishments of the student athletes in the tennis community. USTA-Nevada board of Directors and awards committee will recognize this years graduating class which includes many that will go onto play college tennis on scholarship, as well as the special category winners for the USTA and for's Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation, the event sponsor. Also being honored are those players who reached a top 5 year end state ranking.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who is also an active 3.5 adult tennis league player, will be the honored guest, receiving the USTA-Nevada Community Leadership Award for his long standing support of the tennis community, including his work as a City Councilman to restore Lorenzi Park and helping bringing the Tennis Channel Open to our city.

Mr. Mike Agassi will also be honored and present for the presentation of the "Mike Agassi NO QUIT Award" to ITC's Andrew Raphaelson and Desert Palm's Alexis Garrett for their hard work and never quit attitudes which have led to both of them getting college scholarships for tennis.

Winnie and Bob Schulman, who have lent their home to this special event the last 4 years, are also being honored and will be present for the presentation of the "Nate Schulman Leadership Award." Danae Ingwaldson and John Qualls will receive this award for their exemplary example as hard working, kind hearted leaders in the tennis community.

The USTA-Nevada Graduating Class is also being honored, including the following players who have indicated they have signed scholarships to play college tennis:

Danae Ingwaldson - Azuza Pacific
Rebecca Cleary - Temple University
Ashley Newell - Western New Mexico
Natasha James - University of Evansville
Fernando Sunago - University of Nevada Reno
Sarah Toti - University of Tennessee
Andrew Raphaelson - University of San Diego
Alexis Garrett - Morehead State
Tyler Seppala - Academic scholarship to Illinois Institute of Technology
Evan Song - Playing professional tennis

Graduates still undecided include:

Austin McMillan, John Qualls, Hadrien Saperstein, Andre Walls, Maja Banas, Kyle Delrosario, Ishmael Gibson, Zach Bellon

This year the USTA-Nevada awards banquet is emphasizing academic excellence.

"Danae Ingwaldson just got a scholarship to play tennis at her dream college, all of which would not have been possible without her 3.5 grade point average." explained USTA-Nevada Executive Director Ryan Wolfington. "The ultimate path for these students is to be extraordinary in academics, leadership, and tennis, that combination always wins."

Winning the coveted "Scholar Athlete of the Year Award" for the boys is Nicholas Mahlangu. Nicholas is a "blue chip" top 20 national level player who has 4 AP classes and 3 IB classes while maintaining over a 4.5 GPA. For the girls Taler and Amanda Brazell are top nationally ranked players coached by former phenom Rita Agassi. They are National Honors Society students at the Meadows School, each with over a 4.3 grade point average. The girls are also part of the Meadows School State Championship team, of which 5 players are on the national honors society.

"It is easy to be a great student or a great athlete compared to what it takes to do both simultaneously," said Wolfington. "The children that do so are nothing short of extraordinary, and it really pays off when college scholarships come around."

Wolfington claims colleges recruit athletes as much for their grade point average as they do their tennis ranking, especially the top institutions.

Tennis is known to be one of the sports that produces top academic awards in high school and college. True to form the USTA-Nevada Academic Excellence Award has many recipients who have achieved a 3.5 grade point average or higher. Those players include:

Brian Foley - Erika Mauban - Travis Beck - Marcus Pasimio - Michael Pasimio - Madeline Pasimio - Rhett Bossung - Amanda Brazell - Taler Brazell - Zach Bellon - Rohan Gupte - Tyler Seppala - Dylan Levitt -Elisha Deville - Andre Walls - Kelsey McMillan - McKay Novak - Fernando Sunago - Hannah Tatlock - Conor Safbom - Anjali Daulat - Tanner Berkabile - Ozzie Abraham - Danae Ingwaldson - Michelle Sullivan - John Qualls - Hadrien Saperstein - Victoire Saperstein - Rachel Wurmbrand - Anjali Daulat - Elvena Gevargiz - Kristen Newell - Nicki Newell - Taler & Amanda Brazell - Ryland McDermott - Blayze O'Keefe - William Elmore - Machalee Sullivan - Isabella Shelton - Abbi Klein - Michael Safbom

Each year the USTA and's Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation give out special category awards for outstanding achievement.

Winning this years Media Excellence award is Jan Hogan for her ongoing work covering tennis for the View News.

"By far the best reporting in town for tennis comes from Jan," said Wolfington. "She makes a difference in so many lives because her articles inspire the children she r=writes about. She is a huge asset t our community."

The Tennis Ambassador of the year is Clark County School District and Judy Myers.

"Judy does more to promote tennis in her community partner office then just about anyone," explained Wolfington. "It is an invaluable way for us to reach the teachers and students in our community."

USTA-Nevada Organization of the Year is Darling Tennis Center Academy, started and run by Saad Ashraaf. According to many Saad Ashraaf has transformed the landscape of junior tennis in Las Vegas and helped countless children to become college scholarship athletes. His academy boasts a large number of the nationally ranked players in Las Vegas.

Our 10 & Under Coach of the Year is Lew Deleon. Lew played as a junior in Las Vegas then at UNLV as a rebel. He was #1 in the Intermountain at 16 and coming around full circle as a coach has been a developmental pro at the Darling Center the last 4 years. He has helped create one of the best beginners to high performance programs in the country.

Each year USTA-Nevada gives out the Legends Award for one girl and boy players who have reached "Legend" status through their on going dominance from a young age to their graduation year. The "Legend" for the boys is Evan Song, who is now going to play some professional tennis having reached top 10 in the United States rankings in boys 18's. The girls Legend is Sarah Toti, a home town favorite who started tennis at a young age watching her mother Mary's league matches at Spanish Trail. This year she played the Lexus of Las Vegas Open pro tournament winning a round and was ranked #15 in the United States!

The Nevada Player of the Year for the boys and girls come from the same family, The Gabrielle and Adam Yee family. Kristofer Yee reached top 5 in the United States in the 14's, then top 20 in the 16's and is on his way to doing the same in the 18's. His sister Kimberly Yee boasts the best junior tennis record in known Nevada history. Kimberly was #1 ranked player in the United States in both 12's and 14's, winning 2 National Championships in singles and doubles, while reaching the finals of the prestigious Easter Bowl two times in a row. Yee also won a professional women's tournament wild card event, then nearly beat a WTA pro ranked top 400 in the world.

It is no wonder that their father and long time coach Adam Yee is winning "High performance coach of the year." Yee is a coach at the NO Quit Tennis Academy and has helped countless players get to the college scholarship ranks.

Developmental coach of the year is being awarded to former ATP touring professional Adam Carey. Carey, a former NCAA team finalist, top 10 player and All-American was also a college coach at UNLV and then NC Wilmington before moving back to Las Vegas to work with Andre Agassi's "Team Agassi" program. Adam is also the Director of the "NO QUIT" home school Tennis Academy where he has helped countless students get college scholarships to play division 1 tennis, including 8 players just this year.

The USTA-Nevada Family of the Year goes to The Pasimio Family. All of their children play tennis at the Darling Center Academy, excel in school, many boasting straight A's. The Volunteer Parents of the Year are also from the Darling program, Mr. and Mrs.Levitt who not only help out their son Dylan's team but the USTA as a whole. They always offer incredible ideas, support and a helping hand. USTA-Nevada Most Improved Player of the Year goes to Sedona Gallagher coached by her hard working father and Brendan Aguilar, who is part of the "Team Agassi" program. Aguilar won 5 rounds at this years prestigious Kalamazoo tournament. Sedona is praised by coaches all over the city for her hard work and excellent play.

Like most sports tennis loves the Sportsmanship Award winner. This year Lucas Lee from and Aphrah Brokaw honor their teams with their ever present kindness and good will. Aphra is also this years girls state doubles champion with Danae Ingwaldson.

USTA-Nevada Volunteer Junior of the Year goes to the junior that does their best to give back to the community. Tanner Berkabile, the USTA-Nevada intern, has been working 2 to 4 hours a day at the USTA office to help the community. Hannah Tatlock, also part of the "Team Agassi" program, helps out almost daily teaching tennis to younger players in the police athletic league foster care program and many others.

USTA-Nevada Rookie of the Year goes to two amazing players. Eight year old Michael Andre Selena Williams. Both young players show incredible promise and can beat most adults! USTA-Nevada Sponsor of the Year was awarded to the new apprarel line TACTIK, spearheaded by local tennis mom Shari Lopez whose daughter Raquel is a top nationally ranked player from the Darling Center.

USTA-Nevada Pancho Gonzales Award Most Promising Player of the Year goes to Dylan Levitt, who has been a top ranked national player for the last two years. For the girls Elvena Gevargiz who just won the Easter Circuit Sectional Championships last week in the 12's for Nevada.

USTA-Nevada Recreational Coach of the Year goes to long time park and rec pro Tom Gerard.

"Tom has been with us for 11 or more years and has always been one of our best," said Rob Merriman. "He is especially good with the young players who just love tennis because of Tom."

USTA-Nevada Community Partner of the Year is Connections Academy , the online school that provides free and private school education to Clark County residents. Many of the top players including our players of the year "Team Yee" use connections to do schooling online so they can still get a great education while training and traveling for tournaments. Connections Academy online school boasts getting countless students into Ivy League and top Universities.

The USTA-Nevada Josh Muterspaw Award goes to a child that has faced adversity and thrived due to a tremendous attitude. This years winner is Nicolas Safbom.

USTA-Nevada High School coach of the year goes to Palo Verde State Championship coach Zach Brandt and Meadows School girls state championship coach Maggie Yahner.

The biggest award of the evening in years past has been the coveted "Rudy Award." The award is given to one player who, like the real "RUDY" in the blockbuster film, fought hard against all odds to make the impossible possible. Hadrien Saperstein through a positive attitude and big heart was able to go from an 8% chance of running again, 3 months of paralysis due to a rare spinal virus, to becoming a tournament player once again. In his own words,

"This personal tragedy has turned out to be one of the most inspiring circumstances of my life. This may sound strange but I am a better person as a result of my challenges."

Saperstein who was told he may never walk or run again, beat the odds and through heard work, a positive attitude, not only walks, runs but plays tennis at a high level. Honorary captain of his PaloVerde High school championship team Saperstein has become the captain of his NO QUIT Tennis academy, "an example of kindness, leadership and wisdom," according to his coaches.

The 2010 Excellence Awards winners are all the players that ended the year with a top five state ranking. This includes:

Boys 10s:
1. Michael Andre
2. Ognjen Zekanovic
3. Michael Safbom
4. Linas Cechavicius
5. Alejandro Quiles

Girls 10s:
1. Madison Moffatt
2. Isabella Shelton
3. Skylar Minden
4. Averiana Mitchell

Boys 12s:
1. Rhett Bossung
2. Alexander Reyna
3. Stefan Lalovic
4. Connor Vermeys
5. Ryland McDermott

Girls 12s:
1. Sedona Gallagher
2. Rachel Wurmbrand
3. Isabella Shelton
4. Daria Shalina
5. Tiffany Theophil

Boys 14s:
1. Rhett Bossung
2. Trevor Johnson
3. Rohan Gupte
4. Lucas Lee
5. Blayze O'Keefe

Girls 14s:
1. Brooke Swallow
2. Christina Sanders
3. Jordan Minnick
4. Alexis Vincent
5. McKay Novak

Boys 16s:
1. Travis Beck
2. Kyle Delrosario
3. Max Novak
4. Rohan Gupte
5. Lucas Lee

Girls 16s:
1. Alexis Vincent
2. Hannah Tatlock
3. Erika Mauban
4. Ashley Wao-Udin
5. Jordan Minnick

Boys 18s:
1. Travis Beck
2. John Qualls
3. Max Novak
4. Kyle Delrosario
5. Andre Walls

Girls 18s:
1. Sarah Lucas
2. Maia Bernick
3. Paige Nisson
4. Alyssa Boman

The event sponsors include , Tactik apparel, Marriott, Ravella - Lake Las Vegas Resort, Pasta Shop Restaurante, Connections Academy and the Schulman family. The Tennis Ball and sit down dinner is made possible by's Marty Hennessy Jr. Tennis Foundation, whose mission is to inspire children through mentoring, tennis and education.

"It is our goal to inspire greatness in all children," said Hilliary Heard the foundations Executive Director. "We feel our mission is fulfilled by giving these hard working children the opportunity to sit back, dress up and celebrate their accomplishments."

United States Tennis Association - Nevada
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