NCAA Mens Tennis

Wildcats Win Three ITA Southwest Region Awards

Wildcats Win Three ITA Southwest Region Awards

TEMPE, Ariz. – Arizona Men’s Tennis won three Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Southwest Region Awards, as announced by the organization on Wednesday.

Clancy Shields was named Wilson ITA Southwest Region Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, Alexander Free garnered his first Southwest Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors and Jay Friend earned Southwest Region Most Improved Player accolades.

Shields led the Wildcats to one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2023-24, winning both the Pac-12 Tournament and Regular Season Championships and making a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. Arizona went 26-4 on the year, including an impressive 7-1 conference record. Under his guidance, junior Colton Smith won four straight matches to make a run to the NCAA Singles Championships semifinals. Smith became the program’s first All-American since 2006 with the run.

The 2023-24 season was Free’s first as Associate Head Coach, and he helped the Cats to a pair of Pac-12 Championships as well as six All-Pac-12 honors. Smith, Friend and Gustaf Strom each were named All-Pac-12 First Team honorees, Nick Lagaev and Herman Hoeyeraal tabbed All-Pac-12 Second Team accolades and Casper Christensen received All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention status. Free helped coach Smith and Friend Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year honors, the first in program history.

Friend had a breakout sophomore season, winning 30 doubles matches and 25 singles matches. He played exclusively at the No. 1 and 2 positions in both singles and doubles and won 17 doubles matches at the No. 1 spot. He took down eight ranked singles opponents and seven ranked doubles foes. He, alongside Colton Smith, won the program’s first Pac-12 Doubles Team of the Year award and was named All-Pac-12 First Team. Friend additionally earned a berth in the NCAA Singles Championships for the first time in his career.

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