Cavalier Corner

August 2021

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AUGUST 2021 25 BY MELISSA DUDEK F or the second straight year, the Hoos Choice awards were a vir- tual celebration, with student- athletes turning to social media channels to see if their name would be called. And for the third straight year, UVA men's tennis player Carl Söderlund was one of the standout Cavaliers to be hon- ored. Söderlund three-peated as UVA's Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the first Vir- ginia student-athlete male or female to earn the recognition three years in a row. As prestigious and dear as that honor was to the McIntire School of Commerce gradu- ate student, there was still an even larger, and unexpected, honor coming his way, the WINA Outstanding Male Athlete of the Year at Virginia. "I am absolutely honored to have received both of these awards during my last couple of weeks at UVA. What a way to be sent off," Söderlund said after returning to his native Sweden. "All of the extra hours on the practice court, study sessions in the li- brary and overall just tough moments that we athletes endure in order to perform at our best for this university were worth every second just because of the feeling of com- munity and support that UVA provides. "These awards are another way for me to feel that appreciation, so thank you!" In a sport that has won four NCAA cham- pionships in the last decade, including the 2017 title in Söderlund's first-year season, it is hard to become the most decorated athlete in UVA men's tennis history. However, his honors have mounted up in his five seasons in Charlottesville. He is a two-time ACC Player of the Year, join- ing Brian Vahaly as the only Cavaliers to repeat as the conference player of the year. He went on to be named the 2021 ACC Championship MVP after picking up three dominant singles victories on the top court during UVA's march to its 13th title. The All-American was named the ITA At- lantic Region Rookie of the Year in 2017 and went out in 2021 as the region's Senior Player of the Year. "Carl is one of the best players to ever play at UVA," Virginia director of tennis Andres Pedroso said. "If I had to describe him with one word it's reli- able. You don't have to worry about him tak- ing care of his academics. You don't have to be worried about him having great practices and being prepared for matches. You don't have to worry about how hard he's going to compete, or how he's going to represent the program. "This guy is so locked in. He's so fo- cused. He's so passionate about pushing himself in all facets of the experience as a student-athlete here. He's embraced all aspects. "He's going to play pro tennis after school, and I'm cheering for him. I think he can play Davis Cup for Sweden, which would be a dream for him. I know that's his primary motivating factor. He has big things ahead of him on the court as a pro tennis player and off the court when he's done playing tennis. I'm going to miss him because he's a rock." While he was the seventh player in pro- gram history to reach the vaunted No. 1 spot on the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's national singles rankings, it is his impres- sive collection of combined athletic and academic honors that truly sets him apart. Söderlund has been named the confer- ence's Men's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2019 and 2021 (the award was not given in 2020) alongside his player of the year honors. While Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Domi- nic Inglot both repeated the scholar-athlete awards in their time in Charlottesville, nei- ther was a player of the year. In fact, only one other player in the conference's history, Guillermo Gomez of Geor- gia Tech in 2011, has been both the player and scholar- athlete of the year in the same season, and Söderlund is the only one to win both twice. Last year, Söderlund became just the sec- ond player in program history to be named an Academic All-American, and the first since Scott Lebovitz in 1997. This year, Söderlund could also repeat that honor and become the program's first two-time recipi- ent of the award that epitomizes the combi- nation of athletic and academic dominance. Since the Hoos Choice awards were virtual this year, Söderlund never had the chance to take the stage to voice his appre- ciation, so he'd like to take a moment and do so now. "I want to say thank you to my team and all the previous athletes at the school that I have looked up to and that have shown me the way to go," he said. "I also want to thank my academic coordinator Adam Brooks, and my coaches, Coach [Andres Pedroso], Scott [Brown] and Raz [Brian Rasmussen] for guiding me through the tough student- athlete journey and making it an unforget- table experience. "Lastly, I want to thank Carla Williams and President [James] Ryan for leading UVA and the athletic department through possibly the most difficult year ever. UVA is truly built on great leadership." THE COMPLETE PACKAGE Carl Söderlund Is The Only Player In ACC History To Be Named The League's Men's Tennis Player And Student-Athlete Of The Year Twice "Carl is one of the best players to ever play at UVA. If I had to describe him with one word it's reliable." VIRGINIA DIRECTOR OF TENNIS ANDRES PEDROSO Söderlund compiled a career record of 67-17 in singles and finished his final season at UVA with a No. 13 national ranking. PHOTO BY MATT RILEY/COURTESY UVA

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