National awards for Gibbs and Neushul | June 8, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - June 8, 2012

National awards for Gibbs and Neushul

Cardinal women claim Honda Award in tennis, Cutino Award in water polo

by Rick Eymer

Stanford Nicole Gibbs and Kiley Neushul each earned national honors this week to cap sensational seasons.

Gibbs, a sophomore, earned the Honda Sports Award for tennis. The honor, bestowed by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards program, recognizes Gibbs as the country's top female player.

Neushul, a freshman, was named the 2012 Peter J. Cutino Award winner, the Olympic Club announced, making her the second straight Stanford recipient of the honor given annually to the top male and female collegiate water polo players in the nation.

Gibbs completed a historic sweep in the NCAA singles and doubles tournament, winning both titles to earn All-America status in each. She joined Stanford's Linda Gates (1985) and UCLA's Keri Phebus (1995) as the only female players in NCAA history to capture both NCAA titles in the same season.

Gibbs defeated Cardinal teammate and doubles partner Mallory Burdette, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, in the first all-Stanford singles final since 2001 and won the 15th collegiate singles crown (13 NCAA, 2 AIAW) in school history.

An hour later, Gibbs and Burdette shook off physical and emotional fatigue to claim the doubles championship with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over host Georgia's Nadja Gilchrist and Chelsey Gullickson.

The championship matches represented a historic day for the Stanford women's tennis program. It was the first time in NCAA men's or women's tennis history that teammates squared off in the singles final before later pairing up in the doubles title match.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year, Gibbs finished the year 41-5 overall (21-2 in duals) while playing all her matches at the No. 1 spot. Gibbs won the final 17 matches she played, while also winning two other singles titles: the ITA Northwest Regional Championships in October and the Pac-12 Championships in April.

As a Honda prize recipient, Gibbs becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious Honda Cup.

Neushul, from Goleta, became the fourth Stanford player overall to earn the Cutino Award, following last year's winner, Annika Dries, as well as Jackie Frank (2003) and Brenda Villa (2002).

"Kiley had a tremendous season, as did our entire team," said Stanford women's water polo head coach John Tanner. "It was great seeing her honored in front of a room full of water polo legends."

UCLA's Caitlin Dement and teammate KK Clark from Sacred Heart Prep rounded out the three finalists for the award.

Neushul scored a team-best 58 goals as Stanford captured its second straight NCAA title, and third overall, in 2012. At the National Collegiate Championship in San Diego in mid-May, Neushul scored three goals, including a goal in the Cardinal's 6-4 title-game win over USC.

The freshman driver recorded 11 hat tricks and 17 multi-goal games as the Cardinal went 26-2 overall, including a perfect 7-0 record in MPSF regular-season play.


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