SKILLMAN, N.J. --- The Tusculum University men's tennis team is one of 54 colleges and universities in NCAA Division II to be recognized to the 2017-2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association All-Academic Team. This marks the 12th straight year Tusculum has earned the ITA All-Academic Team Award.
The Pioneers also had 10 of their team members earn ITA Scholar Athlete accolades including: Gabriel Bernardi, Jorge Cervantes, Yago Fernandez, Tashique Kader, Toby de Klerk, Tomas Kmetko, Steven Knowles, Marco Meon, Eduardo Munoz and Fabian Paier. TU's 10 selections are the second-most in the country and just one off the national leader Drury University (11).
The ITA All-Academic Team Award is presented to any ITA program that has above a 3.2 cumulative grade point average. ITA Scholar Athletes are student-athletes who are a varsity letter-winner, have a GPA of 3.5 or higher for the current academic year and have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters.
The Pioneers recorded a 3.511 GPA for 2017-2018 which is third amongst Tusculum's sponsored sports. TU was one of five South Atlantic Conference men's tennis programs to earn ITA All-Academic Team distinction this year.
The TU women's tennis team also earned ITA All-Academic Team honors, making Tusculum one of only 50 DII colleges and universities to earn this award for both the men and women's programs.
Bernardi, a junior from Aruja, Brazil, posted a 3.71 GPA for the academic year to raise his cumulative average to 3.48. The business and entrepreneurship double major went 1-1 in singles and 1-0 in doubles this past season. He is a member of the Athletic Director's Honor Roll, SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Dean's List.
Cervantes, a freshman from Plantation, Florida, has a 3.69 GPA while majoring in business administration. He is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Dean's List and Athletic Director's Honor Roll. In his rookie campaign, Cervantes went 15-6 in singles including 6-4 in SAC play. He also amassed a 10-7 worksheet in doubles.
Fernandez, a sophomore from Aviles, Spain, recorded a 3.52 GPA this past year as an international business major to lift his cumulative average to 3.26 overall.
Fernandez, along with de Klerk, earned All-SAC honorable mention in double this past spring. For Fernandez, it is his second All-Conference recognition in doubles. The 2017 All-SAC second team performer went 9-7 (4-6 SAC) in singles this year while he and de Klerk went 12-7 overall and 6-4 in league play.
Kader graduated from Tusculum in May with a 3.84 cumulative GPA including 3.79 in his final two semesters. The business administration major earns ITA Scholar Athlete honors for a fourth consecutive year.
Kader earned All-Conference honors in singles for the first time in his career after posting a 9-5 overall record for the Pioneers. Kader went 7-2 in SAC matches, while boosting his career singles record to 48-26. A native of Obertshausen, Germany, Kader had seven straight-set wins among his nine victories, and saw three of his five losses come in either a third set or a match tiebreaker.
In doubles, Kader and Gabriel Yaguar teamed up for an 8-7 overall record, including a 5-5 record in conference matches at No. 1 doubles. For Kader, it is the third time in his career he has been named All-Conference in doubles, after earning honorable mention status in 2015 and second-team honors in 2016. The pair had a six-match winning streak at midseason and went 1-1 in tiebreakers.
De Klerk also graduated this spring while majoring in accounting and economics. He finished with a 3.67 cumulative GPA including a 3.75 average this year. He is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Athletic Director's Honor Roll, Dean's List, Charles Oliver Gray Honors List and is a four-time ITA Scholar Athlete selection. De Klerk, a product of Bergen op Zoom, The Nethelands, earned his first All-Conference honors this year and finishes his career with a collegiate doubles record of 41-19.
Kmetko, a senior from Bratislava, Slovakia, is majoring in economics and posted a 3.94 GPA in 2017-2018 to lift his cumulative average to 3.46. He repeats as an ITA Scholar Athlete and is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll.
Kmetko, a second team All-SAC selection in singles for the second straight year, finished the season with eight consecutive victories. He compiled an 8-2 record in conference matches, with seven of the eight victories coming in straight sets. Kmetko finished the season with an overall record of 9-8, with four of the losses coming in either three sets or a match tiebreaker. He has a two-year record of 19-13 for the Pioneers.
Knowles returns to the to the ITA Scholar Athlete squad for a second straight year. The sophomore from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, has a cumulative GPA of 3.73 including 3.88 last year majoring in business administration. He was named to the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Athletic Director's Honor, Dean's List and Charles Oliver Gray Honors List. He went 2-0 in singles competition and 1-0 in doubles play.
Meon makes his debut appearance on the ITA Scholar Athlete team after seeing action in 21 matches as a true freshman. The Karsrhue, Germany product shined in the classroom with a 3.91 GPA while majoring in economics. On the court, he went 9-12 in singles playing mostly in the top half of the TU lineup. He also posted a 4-4 doubles record as a rookie.
Munoz garners his third ITA Scholar Athlete accolade as he graduated from Tusculum with a 3.56 cumulative GPA as a general management major. Munoz logged a 3.58 GPA in his senior campaign. He finished his career with 23 singles wins (23-24) including a 2-4 worksheet in his final collegiate season. He also went 8-6 in doubles play this past year.
Paier rounds out the list of honorees as he returns to the ITA Scholar Athlete team for a third straight year. The Feldbach, Austria native has a perfect 4.00 GPA with a double major in business administration and management.
He earned the South Atlantic Conference Men's Tennis Elite 20 Award which is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative GPA participating at the final site of the league championship. Paier was the inaugural winner of the SAC Elite 18 Award in 2017. He is a member of the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, President's List, Dean's List, Charles Oliver Gray Honors List and the Athletic Director's Honor Roll. Paier went 3-0 in singles action to improve his career record to 11-2 overall. Paier also went 1-0 in doubles play.