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Ugur Atalay, men's tennis

Senior Ugur Atalay prepares for his opponent to serve the ball during match against Georgetown last year. Hatchet File Photo

Ugur Atalay, a standout on the court for the men’s tennis team last season, is StudyInAmerica.com’s International Student of the Year for the class of 2012.

The website serves as a consulting service for prospective students from Turkey and Azerbaijan looking to attend college in the United States. Atalay, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, earned this year’s award after a four-year career with the Colonials that culminated in back-to-back A-10 championships and the 2011-12 Atlantic 10 Sportsmanship Award.

“Since the age of 12, Ugur has been ranked #1 by the Turkish Tennis Federation respective to his age,” the award’s press release said. “Despite his prior success, Ugur never got ahead of himself and came to the United States with a precise goal and purpose. He adjusted to his new setting and remained on course to not only grow as a person but also lead to inject great value to his surrounding community.”

Atalay was a four-year All-Conference selection during his tenure with GW, and was consistently strong at the No. 2 singles slot and No. 1 doubles slot last season.

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Ugur Atalay, men's tennis

Senior Ugur Atalay prepares for his opponent to serve the ball during match against Georgetown last year. Hatchet File Photo

Ugur Atalay is the recipient of the 2011-12 Atlantic 10 Sportsmanship Award, chosen by the senior women administrators of each league institution, for his actions during competition in the men’s tennis A-10 title game.

In a move that caused the Xavier head coach to praise a “classy” GW squad, Atalay reduced the intensity of his play in the final and deciding match of the championship, allowing opponent Mesa Mei, who was suffering from severe cramps, greater ease in competition. Atalay lobbed serves and returns slowly to give Mei a chance to compete, and when the GW senior was victorious, he refrained from celebration, instead shaking Mei’s hand and exchanging a hug.

“Ugur has always been a team player who likes to keep a low profile,” men’s tennis head coach Greg Munoz said in a release. “He leads with his actions, as opposed to his voice, and lets his racquet do the talking for him.”

Ataly is the second GW player to earn the sportsmanship award, following Raman Luthra, a member of the men’s golf team, who took home the prize following the 2006-07 season.

Atalay was a four-year All-Conference selection and helped bring the men’s tennis team to back-t0-back A-10 championships at the No.1 and 2 singles slots.

 

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Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher

The Colonials will face Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

The Colonials (17-7) will travel to Durham, N.C. May 12 to face the No. 8 seed Blue Devils. This year, GW boasts two strong additions to its roster: freshman Francisco Dias, who was recently named the Atlantic 10 Conference’s Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie Performer, and senior Ugur Atalay.

Atalay missed the tournament last season for personal reasons but said he is eager to compete in his first NCAA tournament at the end of his final collegiate season.

“For me, this year is special because last year I had to go back home before NCAA’s for unfortunate reasons,” Atalay said. “I’m going to be playing in NCAA’s for the first time in my life. I’m really excited and all of my teammates are really excited.”

GW will take on a deep Blue Devils squad, one that swept the Colonials in postseason play in 2011. Duke went 22-5 this season en route to its NCAA bid.

But after today’s NCAA selection show, the Colonials were quick to point out they pulled off three upsets en route to the A-10 title and beat a nationally-ranked Radford squad this season.

“They are definitely more experienced. There are guys who have been playing in international tournaments before they come to college. Their experience in professional tournaments is more so than us at this point,” Atalay said. “But GW is getting better. We are really practicing hard for this. We always have the chance to beat anyone in the nation.”

Both teams are familiar with each other from last year’s NCAA tournament, and head coach Greg Munoz said he was excited for a rematch against the Blue Devils.

The Colonials were underdogs throughout the 2012 season, before nabbing their second straight A-10 crown and numerous postseason accolades. Still, Munoz knows his team is not favored against the Blue Devils, and said GW will need to rise to the occasion.

“We have one year under our belt against them,” Munoz said. “They know what it’s like to play at the top so it’s not like they’ll ever be unprepared. Now we are just more prepared.”

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Ugur Atalay, men's tennis

Senior Ugur Atalay prepares for his opponent to serve the ball during match against Georgetown last year. Hatchet File Photo

Men’s tennis senior Ugur Atalay and women’s lacrosse senior Sarah Phillips are the outstanding senior student-athletes of the year, nabbing the top prizes at today’s Senior Honors Luncheon.

Atalay, who was named to the A-10 first team April 26, took home the J. Dallas Shirley Outstanding Senior Male Student-Athlete award, given to a graduating male senior who demonstrates achievement in athletics, academics and community service. Atalay earned a 21-9 singles record and a 18-8 doubles record this season for the A-10 champion Colonials.

Phillips was awarded the Lynn George Outstanding Senior Female Student-Athlete award after earning first team honors April 27. Phillips, who is the women’s lacrosse program’s all-time leader in points and assists, paced the A-10 and ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Division I in assists this season.

Senior rowers Eric Anderson and Mackenzie Hovermale captured scholar-athlete of the year honors at the luncheon, and 24 student-athletes were named the most valuable players for their respective teams. Senior guard Tiana Myers took home MVP honors for the women’s basketball team, and, for the second straight year, senior guard Tony Taylor is the most valuable player for the men’s basketball team.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012 1:28 p.m.

Men’s tennis sweeps A-10 awards

Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Fresh off its second consecutive A-10 title, the men’s tennis team swept A-10 awards, nabbing the Coach of the Year, Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie Performer honors and four all-conference team members.

Freshman Francisco Dias picked up both the Most Outstanding Performer and Most Outstanding Rookie Performer awards, the first-ever A-10 student-athlete to earn both honors in a season. Dias posted an 18-5 record at No. 1 singles and an 11-4 record at No. 1 doubles with senior teammate Ugur Atalay. The freshman, who owned a No. 64 ranking from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association this season, is the second Colonial in program history to win the Outstanding Performer award and the fifth to earn Rookie Performer honors.

“I knew Francisco was something special when I recruited him,” men’s tennis head coach Greg Munoz said in a release. “He proved it this year – to me and to his team. He really deserves both of these awards.”

Munoz picked up his second straight A-10 Coach of the Year honor after guiding GW to the championship and a 17-7 overall record. He led the Colonials, who were seeded fifth heading into the A-10 tournament, to victories over the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 seeds en route to a league title.

Munoz also saw his team post a seven-match win steak from March 11-30 and guided it to a victory over nationally-ranked Radford in its regular-season finale.

“The A-10 has gotten a lot stronger over the years, and that’s due to the incredible coaches that are coming in and doing a great job recruiting,” Munoz said. “I am honored to receive the award, but I also feel that there are several other coaches that were deserving.”

Joining Dias on the A-10 All-Conference First Team are Atalay and junior Alexander van Gils, while sophomore Ulrik Thomsen earned second team honors. It’s the fourth straight year Atalay’s been named to the first team, who owned a 21-9 singles record on the season.

Van Gils’ first team award is the first of his career, following second team honors last season, and comes after he posted an 11-5 record at No. 3 singles on the season and a 9-1 record at No. 2 doubles with Thomsen. It’s also the first postseason conference honor for Thomsen, who won nine of his last 10 doubles matches.

“Ugur has always been a passionate player and I knew that when I recruited him. He has he never let me down in his four years here, and I never doubted his ability,” Munoz said. “Alex is probably the best doubles player I have had here at GW. He and Ulrik are a very special combination and the pair have made competing much easier for us.”

The Colonials next head to the NCAA tournament for the second time in two years.

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Ugur Atalay, men's tennis

Senior Ugur Atalay prepares for his opponent to serve the ball during a match against Georgetown last year. Hatchet File Photo

The A-10 men’s tennis championship came down to the No. 2 singles match Sunday, pitting Colonials senior Ugur Atalay against Xavier sophomore Mesa Mei for the point that would earn their team the league title.

After Mei took the first set, he was sidelined by an injury that prevented him from playing to his full strength. Unwilling to quit on his team, the Musketeers sophomore played through the pain, but it hampered his performance and he dropped the next two sets to to Atalay.

After the match concluded, and GW had claimed its second straight Atlantic 10 championship, Xavier head coach Eric Toth complimented Atalay and the Colonials for their sportsmanship during the No. 2 singles match and celebration after claiming the A-10 title.

“The atmosphere was set for a special finish to this year’s tournament, but Mesa just physically could not be at his best. That happens sometimes in college tennis and Mesa did the best he could to finish. I give Ugar Atalay credit for the way he executed to finish the match, but more importantly how he conducted himself in a tricky situation. He has been a class act in his four years at GW and today was no exception,” Toth said in a news release. “I also congratulate [Colonials head coach Greg] Munoz and the rest of his squad on another championship, but mostly for the class he and his guys showed in winning the match, ideally not the way they would want to clinch a championship. They were classy. Kudos to them.”

Atalay, also a member of GW’s No. 1 doubles pair with freshman Francisco Dias, and the rest of the Colonials will next head to the NCAA tournament, where they will look to avenge last year’s loss in the first round to Duke.

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Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

The men’s tennis team nabbed its second straight A-10 championship Sunday, defeating Xavier 4-3 and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Colonials, who entered the A-10 tournament as the fifth seed, defeated La Salle, Temple and Charlotte to advance to the finals Sunday. Xavier took the doubles point to open play, putting GW in a 1-0 hole entering singles competition. Much like they did against the 49ers Saturday, the Colonials regained ground through tight singles competition to ultimately grab its second straight A-10 title.

Senior Richard Blumenfeld was the first GW victory of the day, taking the No. 6 singles match. From there, sophomore Viktor Svensson and junior Alexander van Gils won at No. 5 and No. 3 singles, respectively, to put the Colonials up by two. After freshman Francisco Dias and junior Leonardo Lapentti fell at No. 1 and No. 4 singles, the match came down to senior Ugur Atalay. Like he did against Radford April 8, Atalay shrugged off the pressure, grabbing a victory at No. 2 singles to win the championship for the Colonials.

GW defeated Xavier in last season’s finals to capture the championship, then advancing to the NCAA tournament before falling in the first round to Duke. Last year’s record earned head coach Greg Munoz A-10 Coach of the Year honors, and the Colonials were tabbed to repeat as champions this season by the league’s head coaches in January.

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Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham earlier this season. Hatchet File Photo

Men’s tennis freshman Francisco Dias is the Atlantic 10 men’s tennis Rookie Performer of the Week, marking his fourth honor of the season and the most for any A-10 rookie this year.

His second A-10 honor in a row comes after Dias nabbed a 2-0 record in singles and doubles play over the weekend. The victories extended his winning streak at No. 1 singles to a team-high eight matches, and his victory streak with senior partner Ugur Atalay at No. 1 doubles to seven straight.

Dias, along with the rest of the Colonials, heads to his first A-10 tournament this weekend, traveling Friday to Mason, Ohio as GW seeks to defend its A-10 title.

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Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham during Saturday's match. Hatchet File Photo.

Men’s tennis freshman Francisco Dias is the Atlantic 10 Rookie Performer of the Week, after a weekend where he went undefeated over three matches at the No. 1 singles and doubles slots. It’s the third weekly honor for Dias, who nabbed the rookie of the week award Jan. 30 and Feb. 13.

Dias, currently riding a six-match win streak, is ranked No. 100 in the most recent Intercollegiate Tennis Association poll. He opened the weekend Friday with a straight-sets win at No. 1 singles over Richmond, before earning back-to-back singles wins Saturday over Charlotte and Fordham.

Dias and doubles partner senior Ugur Atalay also swept competition over the weekend, defeating Richmond 8-3 Friday, Charlotte 9-7 Saturday and Fordham 8-5 Saturday. Dias, Atalay, and the Colonials next head to James Madison Friday.

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Freshman Francisco Dias sends it back to Fordham during Saturday's match. Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Jake Deitcher

The Colonials (11-7, 3-2 A-10) won two of their three matches this weekend, finishing play with a victory over Fordham Saturday.

But no teams were easy victories, senior Richard Blumenfeld said, a marked change from past seasons that indicates the rapidly increasing strength of the Atlantic 10.

“Some of the teams that we should beat are putting up a big fight,” Blumenfeld said. “We are going through a lot. Not only are we overcoming injuries but the teams in the A-10 are stronger this season.”

The easiest match of GW’s weekend came on Friday, when the Colonials defeated Richmond 5-2, dominating at the No. 1 and No. 2 seats in both singles and doubles.

No. 1 doubles duo freshman Francisco Dias and senior Ugur Atalay easily defeated the Spiders 8-3, and No. 2 doubles tandem sophomore Ulrik Thompsen and junior Alexander van Gils picked up an 8-2 victory. Dias won in straight sets 6-3. 6-4 at the No. 1 singles position while No. 2 Atalay emerged victorious after dropping the first set 3-6 by winning the next two sets 6-4, 7-5.

Saturday started out as a frustrating day for the Colonials. A loud and confident Charlotte squad surprised GW, winning a tight contest, 4-3. The loss ended a seven-match winning streak for the Colonials. Still, GW was eager to ensure they would not add a losing streak to their season record and remained strong to defeat Fordham a few hours later with a 5-2 victory.

“This is all about conference. It’s all about getting that top four seed in the A-10 tournament. We have to want it to get it,” Dias said. “Losing to Charlotte lead us to beat up Fordham as hard as we could.”

Both Charlotte and Fordham were loud and vocal during their matches, and every lost point by the Colonials was met by a yell or cheer from their opponents. The aggression coming from opposing Atlantic 10 teams isn’t surprising, head coach Greg Munoz said. The Colonials have dominated conference play for the past five seasons, and rivals relish the chance to beat a GW squad that rarely loses to their A-10 competition.

“I think that there has been a target on our back for the last five years,” Munoz said. “People just always want to beat us because we do well.”

Although they ultimately pulled out a victory over Fordham, the Colonials looked tired as they took on the Rams. The earlier match against Charlotte lasted three and a half hours, leaving little time for GW to recover.

Despite strong performances from Blumenfeld, who swept his Saturday singles matches at the No. 6 position, and Dias, who went 4-0 on Saturday at No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles, Saturday’s doubleheader proved to be exhausting for the team.

“We try to play a tough schedule so that these guys are ready for the worst but the problem we are facing is that we are beat up. I thought that we were healthy, I thought that we were getting there,” Munoz said. “With a small team and with the improved depth of our conference, it’s something we will never do again. It’s too tough. We will never have another back-to-back as long as I am coaching.”

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