May 8, 2012
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – The accolades continued to roll in for the 2012 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Champions as the Army Black Knights collected all three of the conference’s major awards. The league revealed the annual award winners on Tuesday as Army’s Paul Peck was named Coach of the Year, sophomore Jamila Paul was tabbed Player of the Year, and freshman Natalie Allen was voted Rookie of the Year, as the Black Knights swept for the second time in conference history.
In addition to the major awards, Army (22-6, 5-0 PL) also placed a conference-best five on all-league teams.
Peck earned Coach of the Year honors for the 12th time in his career and seventh time in the past eight years. The 18-year mentor guided a young Army squad, which featured no seniors on its roster, to a 22-win season which included its 13th Patriot League title and 12th NCAA Championship berth. He is the winningest coach in program history, collecting his 300th career win on Feb. 4 in a 6-1 defeat of Seton Hall. Peck is one of just two active Army coaches to eclipse the 300-win mark, joining head baseball coach Joe Sottolano.
Paul continued her hold on Patriot League major awards as the 2011 Rookie of the Year became Army’s fifth Player of the Year in the past six seasons. Also earning All-Patriot League first-team accolades for the second straight year, Paul enters the NCAA Championship carrying a 15-match undefeated streak while boasting a 21-7 singles record. Playing predominantly at the No. 2 spot, she went undefeated against Patriot League foes for the second straight year.
In doubles play, she teamed with fellow first-team member Erin Colton, owning a 19-3 dual-match record at No. 2. The winning percentage (.864) listed second on the squad, while the pair went undefeated in their final 11 matches heading into the NCAAs.
Colton was named to the first team for the third straight season. The junior co-captain played entirely at the No. 1 singles spot, earning a 4-0 record against Patriot League foes. Colton provided the match point against rival Navy in the conference title match and was named co-MVP along with Natalie Allen.
Allen is the seventh Black Knight to garner Rookie of the Year honors, becoming the third consecutive Army player to collect the award (Paul in 2011; Colton in 2010). The freshman earned a team-best 29-7 singles mark entering the NCAA Tournament, with the 29 victories listing tied for third all-time on Army’s single-season list. Three of her wins came in the Patriot League Championship, becoming the first Black Knight in 11 years to collect three victories at the tournament. Allen will travel to Tuscaloosa, Ala., with an 11-match win streak.
Sophomore Margaret Iliev joined Paul and Colton on the first team for the first time in her career. Arguably the toughest doubles player on the squad, Iliev teamed with classmate Carly Riney at No. 3 for a 15-1 dual-match record for the highest winning percentage on the team (.938). In singles play, Iliev went 16-13, splitting time between Nos. 2, 3 and 4. She played the final six matches of the year at No. 4, earning a 5-1 record.
Sophomore Della Taylor rounded out the award winners, garnering All-Patriot League second team honors for the second straight year. Taylor led the squad in total wins with 47, including 27 doubles victories and 20 singles triumphs. She was one of three Black Knights to eclipse the 20-win mark in singles play, while the 27 doubles victories alongside younger sister Elle Taylor were a team best and list 10th on Army’s all-time single-season list.
“It’s great to be recognized by those within our league,” said Peck. “Jamila’s a very hard worker. She comes in and always pushes herself and puts the team first; it’s great for her effort to be acknowledged. Natalie is a great kid and also a hard worker who has a bright future.
“As for Erin, Margaret and Della, they’re all having strong seasons and are worthy of the recognition,” continued Peck. “Erin, who is always pitted against the opposition’s top player, has handled that task really well this year. Margaret and Della are both phenomenal doubles players. We’re excited for their seasons to continue at the NCAA Championship this weekend.”
The Black Knights’ season continues on Friday when they travel to eighth-seeded Alabama for the NCAA First Round. Army and the Crimson Tide will square off at 5 p.m., ET.
2012 Patriot League Women’s Tennis Awards
Player of the Year – Jamila Paul, Army, So.
Rookie of the Year – Natalie Allen, Army, Fr.
Coach of the Year – Paul Peck, Army
First Team All-Patriot League
Dumitrita Iepuras, Bucknell, Sr.
Erin Colton, Army, Jr.
Emani Decquir, Navy, Jr.
Margaret Iliev, Army, So.
Jamila Paul, Army, So.
Darien Sears, Navy, So.
Second Team All-Patriot League
Stefanie Ton, Navy, Jr.
Jenai Bilmoria, Lehigh, So.
Alex Petrini, Colgate, So.
Erin Snook, Navy, So.
Della Taylor, Army, So.
Natalie Allen, Army, Fr.