The University of the Cumberlands (UC) tennis program is one of rich history. Numerous KIAC championships, Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) regional championships, and individual awards highlight the history of the program, but this season another Patriot can add her name into the list as part of UC history.
Junior Neesha Thirumalaichelvam (Selangor, Malaysia) is a two time NAIA All-American as she won the honors in both her freshman and sophomore years in 2010 and 2011. She also is a two time Mid-South Conference 1st team selection in 2010 and 2011 while winning 3 MSC Player of the Week honors. She can add another honor as she recently won the ITA Regional Championship in Georgetown, KY in October.
On November 21st, the latest rankings of the ITA were released and for the first time ever, a Patriot was ranked in the poll. Thirumalaichelvam was ranked #3 in the country behind Tiffany William of Auburn Montgomery University and Tetiana Kovalska of St. Thomas University. She earned this ranking by competing in the ITA National Tournament in October as she went 2-1 at the tournament.
Neesha defeated Aziza Butoyi of Olivet Nazarene in three sets in the opening round match 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 to move on to the semi-finals. She fell in her semi-final match to Tetiana Kovalska of St. Thomas University by scores of 6-0, 6-1. This took her to the 3rd place match against Amy Grosskleg of Evangel where she took the match 6-3, retired.
Head Coach Chin Tan commented, "Neesha is the best women's tennis player that we ever had and the accolade of a third ranked player in NAIA is a true testament to our strong belief that she is a player. We are very proud of her. She not only excels on court but off court as she has been a good leader to our team. We hope she continues to work hard and enjoy the success that she will have."
The Patriots will begin their spring season on February 9th as they take on Bellarmine University.
For more information on the Patriot tennis program along with other Patriot athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.