Sorkin, Whitaker Among RTA Award Winners

By John Packett, RTA Contributing Writer

Sorkin, Whitaker Among RTA Award Winners

The Richmond Tennis Association passed out its annual awards to deserving juniors on March 1, and the dinner ceremony at Willow Oaks Country Club included two of the most decorated players in the metropolitan area.

Nina Sorkin, a three-time All-Metro player of the year as chosen by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and Spencer Whitaker, who attained the U.S. Tennis Association’s No. 1 singles ranking in the boys’ 14s division last year, were among those honored.

Sorkin received the Ellen Smith Maloney award, given to the most improved junior girl, for the second time.

The senior at Deep Run High School will be seeking her fourth singles and doubles titles at the 5A high-school level later this spring. Sorkin is ranked No. 3 in the Mid-Atlantic girls’ 18s in singles and doubles. She is heading to Virginia Tech in the fall.

Whitaker was the recipient of the Sam Woods award, given to the most improved junior boy.

Ranked No. 8 in the Mid-Atlantic boys’ 16s singles division, Whitaker was granted a wild card into the National Boys’ 16s in Kalamazoo last year and reached the third round. He is currently training at the Bollettieri/IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

The winner of the Dorothy Chewning award for most enthusiasm for the game by a junior girl was Stephanie Broussard, who is a senior at Hanover High School and carries a 3.8 GPA. Her Mid-Atlantic ranking jumped from 29th to 19th in the past year.

Max Presley took home the Greg Semon award for most enthusiasm for the game by a junior boy. Presley, who is deaf, plays No. 3 singles behind the Bernstine brothers, at Goochland High School, where he is a junior.

“Max loves tennis,” said Damian Sancilio, an area pro who works with Presley. “His father was diagnosed with cancer last year and I truly believe that his enthusiasm for tennis is one of the saving graces in his life. He knows it and he brings it to every practice.”

The Sue Cain girls’ sportsmanship honor went to Grace Caplice, who is a junior at St. Catherine’s, where she played No. 2 singles and doubles last fall. The Saints won the LIS tournament for the first time in eight years and she was chosen for the All-State team.

One of Caplice’s pros said, “She brings a very positive energy to the game, during practices and in competition.”

Scott Phillips, a junior at Collegiate, was given the Richard B. Passloff award for boys’ sportsmanship. He was co-captain of the Cougars last year and was chosen team MVP while earning first-team All-State honors.

“His exceptional sportsmanship is one of the main reasons his teammates nominated him as co-captain his junior year,” said his coach, Karin Whitt.

The speaker for the evening was Ben Johnson, the University of Richmond’s men’s tennis coach.

All those in attendance that evening enjoyed a nice dinner and had high praise for this year’s RTA award winners.