Hot Links: Women’s tennis begins NCAA title drive May 9

SMU tennis player Marta LesniakForty-six SMU student-athletes have earned the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal during the 2008-09 academic year. They are among 394 medal winners leaguewide, each of whom has achieved a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.75 or better. The 46 Academic Medal winners represent an increase of almost 25 percent for SMU, which had 37 medal-winners a year ago. See the complete list of winners here.

The No. 23 and Conference USA champion women’s tennis team will face No. 38 Texas A&M in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Championships at 11 a.m. May 9 at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco. First-year player Marta Lesniak (No. 59, right) will compete for the individual title as well as the doubles championship with partner Aleksandra Malyarchikova, also a first-year player. Currently C-USA’s top-ranked doubles team at No. 32, Lesniak and Malyarchikova went undefeated in 13 matches this spring. Read more.

SMU thrower Simone du ToitFirst-year thrower Simone du Toit (left) was named the Conference USA Outdoor Track and Field Athlete of the Week for the week of May 4, 2009. She posted the second-longest throw in the nation this season with a winning discus toss of 57.35m (188-02.0) at the Mean Green Twilight April 30, setting a school and stadium record and surpassing the NCAA Regional standard. Read more.

Meanwhile, the entire track and field team jumped 10 spots to a No. 23 ranking in this week’s U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) outdoor track and field poll. Three standouts combine to rank in the nation’s top 15 in five different events: Freshman Simone du Toit, ranked 2nd in the discus and 10th in the shot put; sophomore Silje Fjørtoft, ranked 3rd in the steeplechase and 12th in the 5,000m; and first-year competitor Viktoria Leks, ranked 15th in the high jump. Read more.

The men’s basketball team will be one of eight to play in the inaugural Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, Dec. 22-25, 2009, as announced by ESPN Regional Television, Inc. The field includes Hawaii, College of Charleston, Saint Mary’s (California), UNLV, USC, Western Michigan and one team to be determined. The games will be played Dec. 22, 23 and 25 at the Stan Sheriff Center. This will be the Mustangs’ fourth trip to Honolulu for a tournament, but the first since the 1987-88 season. Read more.

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