DURHAM, N.C. – Senior Mary Clayton of the Duke women’s tennis team was honored as the winner of the Regional ITA/Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship , as announced by the organization Wednesday. Clayton earned the award not only her performance on the tennis courts, but also for her leadership, dedication and sportsmanship during the 2013 campaign.
“I am extremely honored,” Clayton said. "After playing for Duke for three and a half years, I can honestly say that my teammates (present and prior), coaches, and Duke's community as a whole have contributed to my development as a person, and I would like to think that this reward is a reflection of the attributes that the people surrounding me have helped shape."
The ITA/Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship goes to a Division I women’s player who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and unwavering dedication to her team; with exceptional hard work, courage, sportsmanship, and a positive cooperative attitude that makes people around her play better. It dates back to 1997 and is memory of the late and widely admired Penn women's tennis coach Cissie Leary.
Clayton, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is captain of the Blue Devils, garnering All-ACC honors while leading the squad to a 16-9 overall record and a spot in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16. Despite a season filled with adversity, Clayton has demonstrated outstanding sportsmanship, leadership and work ethic, earning her a position in the Duke Tennis Hall of Fame.
“Mary has been great, and I think it’s a tribute too that she is recognized by other coaches too, not just myself,” said head coach Jamie Ashworth. “It’s a great award for her, and you have a lot of coaches in the region who voted for her because they know what she brings to the team, not just on a leadership level, but on a sportsmanship level. Mary will go out and fight and compete, and if she gets beat, she walks up to the net and congratulates her opponent. She is a true sportsman.”
In her final season in Durham, Clayton has tallied a 12-7 singles record in dual matches, including a 5-3 ledger in conference matches. With her performance, Duke’s captain has etched her name into the program record books in career singles victories (110, T-13th) and career ACC singles wins (29, 2nd), while also holding one of the highest winning percentages in Duke tennis history (.743, 8th).
“As far as leadership goes, Mary has developed since her freshman year into one of the best leaders that we’ve had,” Ashworth said. “She is someone that we can talk to both on and off the court and has a really good feel and a really good vibe about where her teammates are. On the court, she’ll definitely be missed, but off the court she will as well. She will be a tough one to replace.”
Clayton and the Blue Devils will continue their season Friday, May 17 when they travel to Urbana, Ill., to take on top-seeded Florida in the NCAA Tournament Round of 16 at 10 a.m. ET.