Hamner, Akli Receive SEC Honors
SEC Freshman of the Year Hamner took three honors, Akli earned All-SEC First Team distinction.
Columbia, S.C. – Freshman Sarah Hamner and junior Ayana Akli of the South Carolina women’s tennis team collected SEC honors, the league office announced Thursday. Hamner took three honors as she was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and made the All-SEC First Team and the All-Freshman Team, while Akli earned a spot on the All-SEC First Team.
Hamner is the second Gamecock in program history to be named the SEC Freshman of the Year, joining Gira Schofield (2006) on the list. She is the first freshman in program history to make the All-SEC First Team and becomes the third all-time to receive an All-Freshman Team nod, joining Mia Horvit (2017) and Ingrid Gamarra Martins (2016).
Playing in the top spot for the Gamecocks, Hamner went 33-8 this season in singles with a 15-5 dual match record and an 8-3 SEC regular-season performance. The first Gamecock since 2009 to reach 30 singles wins in a season, her 33 wins ties her for third in the South Carolina record book. The ITA All-American National Champion downed 20 ranked opponents in singles this year and became the first Gamecock in program history to be the No. 1 singles player in the nation. In doubles, Hamner took down the No. 2 duo alongside freshman Misa Malkin and topped two other ranked opponents with Megan Davies. Hamner is the No. 5 singles player and is No. 24 in doubles with Malkin and No. 40 with Davies in the most recent ITA rankings.
Akli’s All-SEC First Team selection is her first conference honor as a Gamecock. Prior to joining the South Carolina squad, Akli was the 2020 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was named to the All-Big Ten Team in 2020 and 2021 at Maryland.
Primarily playing in the No. 2 singles spot, Akli was a force to be reckoned with on the courts. She went 28-15 overall in singles, including a 15-7 dual match record and a team-best 9-2 SEC regular-season record. Her 2-0 singles performance at the SEC Tournament extended her singles winning streak to 10 headed into the postseason. In doubles, she also earned the team-best record of 8-2 in SEC play with fellow junior Ana Cruz. Akli is currently ranked No. 56 in singles and No. 73 in doubles alongside Cruz.