Tennis proves academic and athletic success

June 7, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington men's and women's tennis proved to be a threat in the Southland Conference this past season, on and off the court.

UTA took home the four most prestigious individual awards in the conference. Men's and women's Player of the Year and men's and women's Student-Athlete of the Year had never been award to individuals from the same institution before now.

Senior Mindaugas Celedinas took home the men's Player of the Year award while Maria Martinez-Romero received the same honor for the women.

Martinez-Romeo also received the women's Student-Athlete of the Year honor after posting a 3.6 GPA while double majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish.

"Receiving this award is recognition of my efforts both outside and inside of the tennis court," the Nules, Spain native said. "It is not easy to meet all the responsibilities that a student-athlete requires and being successful in both areas implies a big dedication.

I am aware that just like me, there are many girls in our conference that combine classes and tennis successfully, that is why being the one chosen for this award means a lot."

UT Arlington head coach Diego Benitez expressed his enthusiasm for Maria's success and her determinations to do well.

"If I would have to describe the prototype of a student-athlete, Maria would be the perfect choice," Benitez said. "We are talking about one of the most determined individuals you can ever meet. Her record on the court is simply amazing, to be able to play at such a high level and at the same time come up with extraordinary grades like she does-you have to have some very special attributes.



Failure is not a word in Maria's vocabulary. She is a leader and a role model for her teammates. I can't wait to see how Maria is going to take on the world and dominate whatever challenges that are presented to her."

Yauheni Yakauleu received the Student-Athlete of the Year honor for the men in the Southland Conference. The junior earned a 3.6 in Information Systems, while also going unbeaten in conference play.

"I am glad that I received the Honor," Yakauleu said. "I am glad that I can show a good example to the guys who are younger than me that it is possible to play and to study hard at the same time.

"I am very proud of all of us. And I think UTA had one of the best teams in the conference, even we could not perform well in the Southland Tournament. Now people know us and they are afraid of us. We are not so easy."

Head Coach Diego Benitez coached his men's and women's team into the Southland Conference tournament this year with the women advancing to the championship match.

"It is a great honor to have accomplished such great achievements for both of our programs. Taking home all four awards is something that has never been done before by any program in our Conference and it's like winning the triple crown-twice," Benitez proclaimed. "It just says so much about our student athletes and their characters.

It makes me feel proud of what we do and I can't praise our players enough for all they do inside the courts and inside the classroom."


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