The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced Baylor women’s tennis senior Blair Shankle as the national recipient of ITA Most Improved Senior award on Tuesday. She was selected from a list of 12 regional award winners and is the third player in Lady Bear history to receive the prestigious honor.
Shankle’s national stock has been on the rise since ending last season with a No. 75 ranking in the final Oracle/ITA Division I women’s tennis release. She began the fall of 2016 ranked No. 54 in the preseason and won her way into the national conversation, besting top 10 opponents, earning the ITA Texas Regional singles and doubles titles and advancing to the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Championship.
After posting an impressive 10-2 record in the fall, Shankle was rewarded with a No. 7 national ranking heading into the spring slate. The Dallas, Texas, native continued to perform, securing a career-high 11 wins over ranked opponents, an 18-2 dual match record and a 12-1 mark in Big 12 action. Her efforts led her to a No. 3 national ranking, the highest ever achieved by any singles player in Baylor women’s tennis history.
Shankle guided the Lady Bears to their 13th consecutive NCAA Championship team selection and helped her squad advance to the second round for the 13th-straight season before bowing out in the second round. Baylor closed the season with a 22-7 record, including a 9-6 mark against ranked foes.
Shankle will continue her collegiate career as the Big 12 Conference’s automatic qualifier and the No. 5 overall seed in the 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championship. She is set to face Brittany Lindl of Tennessee in the opening round of singles action on Tuesday, May 24 at 8 a.m. (CT). Additional rounds will follow, one per day, until the national championship match, scheduled for May 29 at Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
ITA Most Improved Senior Region Award Winners
Atlantic Region – Marie Faure, William & Mary
Carolina Region – Chalena Scholl, Duke
Central Region – Tanaporn Thongsing, Wichita State
Midwest Region – Monica Robinson, Notre Dame
Mountain Region – Chloe Forlini, U.S. Air Force Academy
Northeast Region – Marika Cusick, Cornell
Northwest Region – Galina Bykova, Fresno State
Ohio Valley Region – Brittany Lindl, Tennessee
Southeast Region – Daniela Schippers, Florida State
Southern Region – Skyler Holloway, LSU
Southwest Region – Kassidy Jump, Arizona State
Texas Region – Blair Shankle, Baylor *