SAN BRUNO, Calif. - West Coast Conference student-athletes Luisa Stefani (Pepperdine) and Sem Verbeek (Pacific) claimed Intercollegiate Tennis Association national awards Tuesday at the awards ceremony announced by the ITA at the NCAA Tennis Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
Stefani, the WCC Women's Player and Freshman of the Year, became the first Pepperdine Wave to be named the ITA's National Rookie of the Year while Verbeek, the WCC Men's Player of the Year, was named the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award winner.
This marks the second consecutive season that a WCC student-athlete earned an ITA Tennis national award after Lorraine Guillermo of Pepperdine was named the Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship & Leadership Award winner in 2015. A total of 11 WCC student-athletes have earned ITA National Awards since 1987.
Stefani was a standout on the court for the Waves this season, currently ranking sixth in the Oracle/ITA singles rankings and 23rd alongside her partner in the doubles rankings this season. She has ranked as high as No. 2 in the singles rankings and as high as No. 8 in the doubles rankings. Throughout the regular season, she boasted a 17-2 record in the dual campaign, all from the No. 1 singles position. In doubles, she and her partners have gone 15-3 in dual contests, including a 10-2 record in the No. 1 spot and 5-1 record in the No. 2 position. Overall in 2015-16, she has produced a 31-5 overall record, including a 20-4 record against nationally ranked singles opponents. In doubles throughout 2015-16, she has produced a 21-4 overall record with partners, including a 4-2 record against nationally ranked opponents. She has tabbed WCC singles player of the week honors on four separate occasions, all of which she was also named doubles team of the week with her partners. In the fall this season, she won the USTA/ITA Southwest Regional Singles Championship and the USTA/ITA Southwest Regionals Doubles Championship with her partner.
Verbeek went 19-2 in singles play in 2016, including going undefeated in WCC competition. He was named the 2016 WCC Player of the Year. Academically, he graduated with a 3.94 GPA in health & exercise sciences, and was the top student in that major. A team captain for the past three years, Verbeek always held his teammates accountable and led by example, both on and off the court. He was heavily involved in university and athletic charity work. Verbeek spearheaded several events with his team, including the Read to Win program, Rotary Read-In, Adopt-a-Family, Pacific Sports Day for local elementary school children and the School of Education's Math Steeplechase. He represented the WCC in leadership programs and events. Verbeek won the WCC Male Sportsmanship Award, which encompasses all sports.