Aita Leads Men's Tennis CAA Honorees
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
NORFOLK, Virginia - UNCW sophomore Rafael Aita was named First-Team All-CAA in singles and juniors Chris Cooprider and Kosta Blank collected First-Team honors in doubles Thursday night at the Colonial Athletic Association's post-season banquet on the eve of the 2012 Virginia 529 CAA Tennis Championships.
"It always means a lot to be recognized by your conference and we have a group of players that are very appreciative and deserving," said fourth-year Head Coach Mait DuBois of the 42nd-ranked Seahawks. "I take a lot of pride in the fact that five different players from our team were recognized.
"The depth of our team is one of its greatest strengths and I'm pleased that our peers in the conference recognize that. Also, the fact that three of our All-CAA selections are underclassmen and that we return all five for next year displays that our program is in a great position to take another step forward."
Aita, from Lima, Peru, is rated 93rd in this week's Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings and carries a 15-4 record into Friday's quarterfinal match against sixth-seeded William & Mary. He has won four straight matches and upset 16th-ranked Daniel Nguyen of top-ranked Southern Cal in late January.
According to DuBois, "Rafael has had a tremendous year and to be selected as a First-Team selection shows how far he has come in the last year. At this time last year, he was playing No. 4 for us and has now worked his way up to one of the best players in the conference. I have really enjoyed watching him grow as a player and this award demonstrates how his hard work has paid off."
Blank and Cooprider each collected Second-Team All-CAA accolades in singles. Blank, a junior from Kfar Sava, Israel, stands 15-5 in singles while Cooprider, a third-year performer from Denver, Colo, is 11-9 this spring. Cooprider was a Second-Team selection one year ago and wound up being the Most Outstanding Player as UNCW captured its second CAA title in three seasons.
Blank and Cooprider have compiled a stellar 16-3 record in doubles this season and the league's coaches took notice, rewarding the 85th-ranked tandem with First-Team All-CAA Doubles honors. Freshman Sam William and Michael Reilly also snagged Third-Team laurels in doubles.
"Kosta and Chris are our upperclassmen and they stepped up for us in a number of ways, on and court . The fact that they made All-CAA in both singles and doubles is truly an impressive accomplishment and shows they are complete players."
The third-seeded Seahawks, ranked 42nd in this week's ITA poll, begin defense of their championship by battling the Tribe in a quarterfinal match at 8:30 a.m. Friday.