Mills, Hamner Receive ITA Regional Honors
Mills received the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award and the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award while Hamner was named the ITA Rookie of the Year for the region
Columbia, S.C. – Junior Elise Mills and freshman Sarah Hamner of South Carolina Women’s Tennis earned ITA Carolina Region honors, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced Monday. Mills received the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award and the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award while Hamner was named the ITA Rookie of the Year for the region.
The Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award is given to an upperclassman that displays inspiring dedication and commitment to her team that has enhanced the team’s performance and exemplifies the spirit of college tennis. The Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award is awarded to a player that has exhibited outstanding leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. A player may only be nominated once in their career for this award.
Mills had a breakout junior campaign at South Carolina, surpassing the 20-win mark in singles for the first time in her career. Of her 24 wins, three were upsets against ranked opponents and eight were notched in SEC play. Mills clinched the match four times for the Gamecocks in the matches against LSU, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Iowa State.
The Prosperity, S.C., native entered the ITA Singles Rankings for the first time in her career and was ranked as high as No. 68 this season. Off-court, Mills is a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and serves on its Community Service Team. She also participated in the Beyond Sports Program and did an internship with the Richland County Sheriff Department to learn about investigations.
Mills is the third in program history to receive the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award and the fourth in program history to receive the Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award. She is also the second Gamecock to sweep the regional leadership awards from the ITA since Hadley Berg did so in 2018.
Hamner adds to her list of accolades with the ITA Rookie of the Year recognition. She earned 35 singles wins this season which is tied for the second-best single season record in the Gamecock history books. Hamner also topped 22 ranked opponents in her freshman campaign and earned 16 wins in dual matches in the No. 1 spot for South Carolina. Most recently, she advanced to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Singles Championship. The SEC Freshman of the Year was named to the All-SEC First Team and the SEC All-Freshman Team, becoming the first Gamecock to receive all three honors in the same year.
The program’s first ITA All-American National Champion in singles is also the first Gamecock to reach 30 wins in a season since 2009. She even became the first in program history to be ranked No. 1 in singles. The Boca Raton, Fla., native remained in the top six singles players all season and ended the year as the No. 4 player in the nation. Additionally, Hamner was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Honda Sport Award for Tennis.
The ITA will announce national award winners on Monday, June 13.