Blue Demon senior was recognized for his sportsmanship, scholarship and leadership
May 15, 2012
Complete List of ITA Regional Award Winners
CHICAGO – DePaul senior men’s tennis standout, Matija Palinic was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Midwest winner of the Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award and the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award.
“Being recognized as the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award and the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award winner for the Midwest Region is a tremendous honor for Matija and our program,” head men’s tennis coach Matt Brothers said.
“I could not be happier for Matija. He is a great guy who has overcome a lot of adversity this year, yet he has still managed to compete at his best and serve as an example for his teammates and peers to follow.”
The Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award is given to the tennis student-athlete that has exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.
The Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award is the ITA's longest-running award and goes to a Division I men's player who displays sportsmanship, character, excellent academics and has had outstanding tennis playing accomplishments. The award was established in 1969 in memory of Rafael Osuna, who was killed in a plane accident at the age of 30. Osuna is one of the all-time great collegiate tennis players, winning three NCAA doubles titles (1961-63) and the '62 NCAA singles title as part of USC teams many consider to be the greatest of all-time.
Voted a co-captain as a senior, Palinic helped to mentor four underclassmen, established new team rules and team goals and also took an active role in DePaul’s Captains’ Council.
As a team leader, Palinic developed an acronym for the word PRIDE -- Personal Responsibility In Delivering Excellence. The acronym helped the Blue Demons represent their family and DePaul in the best possible way both on and off the court.
“I know that I had an impact on my team from the beginning to the end of the season, both on as well as off the court,” Palinic said.
“My mission was to teach the freshmen and sophomores how to become better team players, while for my older teammates I was paid more attention to helping them control their emotions, frustrations and negativity.
“In order to achieve my goals I set the example with honesty, forward-looking, inspiration and competency.”
“After all the ups and downs we had as a team, I believe I earned respect and loyalty from my teammates as well as coaches,” Palinic added. The Blue Demons ranked as high as No. 64 in the Campbell’s ITA Team poll and tied for fifth at the BIG EAST Championship.
“Competing on an intercollegiate level made me feel ready to compete in the real world against all the obstacles that I might face, but at the same time I feel ready to lead various groups of people that will follow me and trust me,” the Croatian native said in closing.
“From a coach's point-of-view, winning these awards is better than winning any individual or team match during Matija's career. It really speaks to his evolution as a player and a person and I am just extremely proud of him,” Brothers added.
Palinic finished his career with 59 singles victories and 39 doubles wins. He was named the BIG EAST Men’s Tennis Player of the Week on March 7 and helped the Blue Demons to a 28-5 record on their home court since 2008.
Off the court, Palinic will graduate in November with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a concentration in management and enters his final two quarter with a 3.480 cumulative GPA.
Palinic’s name will appear on the National ballot for both awards. The ITA National Awards Committee will then select the winners, who will be honored at the 2012 NCAA Championships