URBANA, June 1, 2019 (Press Release)
Sophomore Asuka Kawai picked up the most coveted honor in college tennis to cap off her outstanding sophomore season as she garnered ITA All-America singles honors, as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Thursday afternoon. Kawai earned the honor after reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA Singles Championships.
The Palatine, Ill. native becomes the fourth Illini in program history to be named All-America and the second in singles play. The last player to receive All-America honors for singles was Illinois Athletics Hall of Famer, Lindsey Nimmo Bristow, in 1993. Former Illini pair, Melissa Kopinski and Rachael White, earned All-American honors in doubles play in 2013. This marks the first All-American under fourth-year head coach Evan Clark.
Kawai turned in one of the best singles performances by an Illini, becoming the first player in program history to reach the NCAA Singles quarterfinals and finishing with and finishing with an 18-10 singles record since the beginning of spring. She also recorded 11 ranked victories in singles play, including a top-10 victory over North Carolina’s Alexa Graham during the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16.
Also collecting major hardware, Kawai earned Unanimous All-Big Ten selection for the first time in her career and was named the ITA Midwest Region’s Player to Watch. She also was a two-time Big Ten Tennis Athlete of the Week (Feb. 26 and March 5) this season. The sophomore ended the season with a career-best ITA singles ranking at No. 35.
In the classroom, Kawai earned Academic All-Big Ten honors for the 2018-19 season.
Kawai is one of just three Big Ten players earning All-America honors for the 2018-19 season. Michigan’s Kate Fahey joins Kawai as the only two Big Ten players to earn All-American status in singles play.