DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Henrique Cunha has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 ITA National Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award, as announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Tuesday. Cunha is the second Blue Devil in program history to win the national award after being selected from a list of 12 finalists.
“It is an honor for me to receive the Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award,” Cunha said. “I was so pleased to be nominated among the candidates and to win it is just unbelievable. This is the most important award I received in my college career, because it is not only about how you perform on the court, but also how you display sportsmanship, leadership and character.”
The Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship and Leadership Award is given annually to a player who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements. Cunha, a senior from Jaú, Brazil, became the second Blue Devil to win the national award, joining current assistant coach Jonathan Stokke (2006). Cunha is also one of just three Blue Devils, along with current head coach Ramsey Smith (2000, 2001) and Stokke (2006) to receive the regional honor, as he was named the Carolina Regional winner last week.
“The Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship Award is the most prestigious of all the ITA awards,” Smith said. “I couldn’t be prouder of Henrique and the way he has represented our program these past four years. There were so many incredible candidates for this award and for Henrique to win just shows how much respect he has achieved in the college tennis world.”
In addition to his outstanding play on the tennis courts, Cunha has been an active in both the Durham community and his hometown of Jaú, Brazil. He has volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in Durham and has played a strong role in annual community service events such as Kid’s Day and the Duke Tennis Royal Blue Pro-Am. In addition, Cunha also has big humanitarian visions after Duke including introducing high school tennis in his home country of Brazil.
A four-time All-American, Cunha will close his illustrious Duke career by competing in the NCAA Individual Championships for the fourth consecutive season. He received an at-large bid to play in the singles competition and will team with sophomore Raphael Hemmeler to play in the 32-team doubles field. Cunha reached the semifinals of the event in 2010 in singles and the quarterfinals in doubles during the 2010 and 2011 seasons with Reid Carleton. The 2010 and 2013 ACC Player of the Year, Cunha owns a 31-4 singles mark for the season, including a 19-1 ledger in the dual season.
In the NCAA Individual Championships, junior Fred Saba and freshman Michael Redlicki will join Cunha and compete in the singles field. In doubles, Cunha and Hemmeler earned the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (ACC) automatic bid, while Redlicki and sophomore Jason Tahir earned an at-large bid to the field of 32 teams. The NCAA Individual Championships are set to begin Wednesday, May 22.