By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
After her stellar year at Tyler Junior College, Kerrie Cartwright is going to be rewarded as a member of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Collegiate All-Star Team this weekend.
Cartwright, who led the Apache Athletics women’s tennis team to the No.1 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), will be among the nation’s top-ranked men’s and women’s tennis players from the season-ending Campbell/ITA College Tennis Rankings at the NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and NJCAA levels, as well as winners from the 2011 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships and 2012 NCAA Championships.
The student-athletes will be treated by the ITA and United States Tennis Association (USTA) to a weekend in New York, highlighted by activities during Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre on Saturday, August 25. The group will be honoured at the ITA awards luncheon, hosted by the USTA in the President’s Dining Room Suite.
The ITA/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award recognises outstanding individuals in all divisions at the regional and national level. This award, which dates back to 1982, goes to NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and JuCo men’s and women’s players who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
Here at home for a few days to relax with her family before she leaves on Thursday with her mother, Kim O’Kelley, Cartwright said she’s thrilled to have been selected for such a prestigious award.
“I think it’s a great opportunity. I’m so happy that I got the chance to go to New York for this award ceremony,” said Cartwright, who intends to take in some of the festivities surrounding the US Open Tennis Tournament that kicks off on Monday at Flushing Meadows.
“I didn’t even know about it because when I heard that I was included, I was like ‘wow, it’s such a great honour.”
Cartwright, in her freshman year, helped the Apache Athletics to their third-straight NJCAA championship as they compiled an impressive 14-2 win-loss record, including a 4-0 unblemished mark at home, 3-2 on the road and 7-0 on neutral territory. She also ended up winning both the NJCAA singles and doubles titles after losing just two singles matches all season as she was crowned the champion in flight 1 at the NJCAA in both singles and doubles
“I think this is a great opportunity for me to meet new people and just see all of the professionals out there and what their life is all about,” she said. “I think it’s great and I am so happy to be able to go.”
Her parents, no doubt, have been more thrilled about the accolades their daughter is about to receive.
“I feel really great because for Kerrie to win both the singles and doubles in her first year in college, that’s a great achievement,” her father Sean Cartwright said. “For her to be invited to go to New York for such a prestigious event is something that people will not ever get to do. So I’m very, very proud of her.”
Not only was her father proud of her accomplishments on the tennis court, but in the classroom as well where she turned in a 3.65 grade point average (GPA) which was more than the icing on the cake.
Her mother, Kim, said as soon as she got the news, she booked her ticket to join her daughter in New York.
“I’m really amazed at how far she has come in such a short time,”O’Kelley said. “I’m happy for her. She works so hard, so it’s paying off, all the hard work.”
Cartwright, 20, will return to Tyler JC after the ceremony before she enrols in Florida State University in January.
The former national junior champion who aspires to either become a professional tennis player or a nutritionist has represented the Bahamas in the Fed Cup from 2008-2011 where she has posted a 7-5 record in singles with six of those matches being played in the main draw.