LCSC's Berhane earns prestigious Arthur Ashe Jr. Award
For the second straight year, the Lewis-Clark State College tennis program has produced one of the NAIA national winners for the Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship.
LCSC coach Kai Fong learned this week that Jonatan Berhane, a senior from Stockholm, Sweden, has been named the NAIA men’s winner of the prestigious award., which recognizes one outstanding male and female player from each level of competition for exhibiting outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
In 2008, LCSC women’s player Shefat Baishakhi earned the NAIA women’s national award.
Berhane is a senior who still has another year of school remaining. He is a Kinesiology major at LCSC and is in his third year of the program. He originally played with Virginia Intermont College for a year, but when the school dropped tennis, he transferred to LCSC in 2007. He played at No. 4 singles for a majority of his junior year and then played at No. 1 or 2 for the Warriors this season.
“It’s a very nice recognition for him because it’s the most prestigious award in college tennis,” LCSC coach Kai Fong said. “It’s a big deal.”
Berhane will be honored during a special ceremony in New York in August during the U.S. Open tennis tournament. The United States Tennis Association will honor Berhane during Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day inside Ashe Stadium. Only five male and female players are honored each year, one each from NCAA Divisions I, II and III, along with NAIA and junior college levels.
Chelsea Gay, a sophomore from the Dalles, Ore., was the women’s NAIA West Region winner for the award and was one of four finalists for the national award.
Overall, LCSC has had five national Arthur Ashe Award winners, joining Berhane and Baishakhi are Pei Yuin Keng (2004), Vinicius Vieira (2002), and Dermot O'Grady (2001).
The Warriors also earned a number of other honors during the NAIA national tournament banquet in Mobile, Ala., on Monday night. The Warriors had seven NAIA scholar athletes, including four women and three men.
Gay, Elaine Lee, a sophomore from Miri, Malaysia, Kristin Twedt, a senior from Mount Vernon, Wash., and Kim Fong, a sophomore from Lewiston, were the women NAIA scholar athletes from LCSC. To be a scholar athlete, a tennis player must have at least a 3.0 grade point average and compete in a certain percentage of the team’s matches.
On the men’s side, Lee’s brother Kevin Lee, a junior, joined senior Cedric Dufour of Evian, France, and senior Mickael Sopel of Toulouse, France as NAIA scholar athletes.
LCSC also had two players named NAIA Champion of Character winners as each team participating at the national tournaments had one player selection for the award. Alyson Peck, a senior from Pershastin, Wash., was the women’s winner for LCSC, while Lee won the honor on the men’s side.