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Honors Worth Repeating

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May 25, 2011
Bobbi Salcido

AZUSA, Calif. -- Senior Sheryl Bon-Bakalov wrapped up an outstanding four-year tennis career at Azusa Pacific by becoming just the second four-time NAIA All-American selection, earning first team recognition for the second straight year to join Jennifer Dao (2004-2007) as the only four-time NAIA All-Americans in the 14-year history of the Cougar women’s tennis program.

Bon-Bakalov’s NAIA All-American selection led an abundance of honors bestowed upon Azusa Pacific for its historic 2011 campaign that tied the program’s single-season wins record (21) and finished with the Cougars’ first appearance in the NAIA semifinals since 2006. She was joined by two more NAIA All-American recipients, junior first team selection Natalie McNall and freshman second team recipient Emily Harris, and Bon-Bakalov was one of two Cougars named as a Daktronics-NAIA and GSAC Scholar Athlete.

Head Coach Mark Bohren was named the Wilson/ITA NAIA West Region Coach of the Year, and assistant coach David Goodman picked up the ITA NAIA Assistant Coach of the Year, his second in as many years after receiving the same national award for men’s tennis last year.

Bon-Bakalov is the first player in program history to earn both NAIA All-American and Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete recognition in back-to-back seasons. In singles, Bon-Bakalov recorded a 13-6 season, including an 8-4 showing in conference play. Heading into the national tournament, Bon-Bakalov racked up three wins in April against opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally in the ITA’s NAIA individual rankings. Among those wins was a 3-set victory over Point Loma Nazarene’s Kristin Strimple, the NAIA’s top-ranked singles player who had a perfect 16-0 singles record in dual matches at the time.

In her four-year career, Bon-Bakalov finished with a 47-24 singles record, playing 41 of her 71 collegiate matches at the No. 1 singles position. Bon-Bakalov also registered a 12-8 record at the Cougars’ No. 1 doubles position in 2011.

McNall was a repeat NAIA All-American selection, picking up first team recognition in 2011 after earning second team honors a year ago, while Harris earned her first postseason award as an NAIA All-American second team pick. Bon-Bakalov, McNall, and Harris also earned All-GSAC honors, becoming the first trio of Cougars to earn all-conference honors in the same season in program history.

McNall finished 2011 with a 13-9 singles record, playing all but five of her matches at the No. 2 singles position, and she defeated the NAIA’s No. 14-ranked Lucie Sipkova in the Cougars’ quarterfinal win over Oklahoma Christian before taking No. 12-ranked Marie Boura to 3 sets in an unfinished match in the semifinal matchup with Fresno Pacific. McNall and freshman Molly Ruby also completed a 14-3 doubles campaign that included a near-perfect 9-1 GSAC record.

Harris used an 18-4 singles record with a 12-2 conference mark to earn NAIA All-American second team and All-GSAC recognition, winning four straight matches to end the year including a pair of national tournament wins. Harris also played in 23 doubles matches this year, all at the No. 1 position, going 15-8 overall.

Bon-Bakalov and junior Emily Ignas were Azusa Pacific’s representatives on the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete and GSAC Scholar Athlete lists, recognizing them for maintaining a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and achieving junior academic status.