SUWANEE, Ga. - Playing in her final
competitive collegiate matches, Nao Kinoshita of Rhodes
College won her second individual national title in three
years, taking the 1997 NCAA Division III Women’s Tennis
Singles Championship with a straight sets victory of 6-4, 6-4 over
Jamie Levine of Skidmore (N.Y.) College.
And as if one title over the weekend was not enough, Kinoshita teamed with Taylor Tarver to win the 1997 NCAA Doubles Championship. The Rhodes duo (pictured above right) won the championship with a 6-4, 6-3 straight sets victory over Aaron Hockman and Ali St. Vincent of Kenyon (Ohio) College.
Kinoshita's historic weekend in 1997 is being recognized as the top moment of the last 20 years of SCAC women's tennis. Top 20 Moments homepage
A three-time all-American, Kinoshita remains of the most decorated female student-athlete in SCAC history. In addition to the singles/doubles individual titles she captured as a senior in 1997, she also won the individual title in 1995 and placed second her junior year in 1996. Her career singles record was a sterling 81-7.
When Nao Kinoshita arrived at Rhodes in the fall of 1993, head coach Sarah Hatgas paid a whole lot of attention. Coach Hatgas had worked tirelessly to convince Nao and her parents that Rhodes was where she needed to continue her education and tennis career. It didn’t take long for this diminutive first-year tennis player to make her mark on the Rhodes tennis program and the national tennis scene. In the fall of her freshman year Nao won the South Rolex singles title, earning the first of three trips to the National Rolex Tournament. She followed her fall performance with a runner-up finish in the 1994 NCAA Division III singles tournament.
In May 1995, Nao became Rhodes’ first athlete to win a NCAA Division III National Championship. She followed that victory with another singles title in 1997. In that same tournament, Nao and doubles partner. Taylor Tarver, also captured the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship. Nao was named the 1997 Division III National Player of the Year by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA). In 1995 and 1997 she was named the National Honda Player of the Year.
Nao captured the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) singles title and was named the SCAC Player of the Year in 1994, 1995 and 1997. In fall 1995, Nao captured the Rolex Small College singles title. She was selected All American by the ITA each of her four years at Rhodes. Perhaps just as impressive as her individual and doubles titles was her overall record. Nao was an amazing 81-7 overall, and was 80-4 against her Division III opponents.
When asked what made Nao Kinoshita a champion tennis player,
Coach Hatgas stated: “The one trait that separated Nao from
the rest of her peers was her love of the game. Nao also had a
passion for competing. She would compete in practice just as hard
as she would compete in a match. Nao loved to hit the tennis
Russell Kramer, the SCAC Director of Communications/New Media, had a chance to catch up with the former Lynx all-American Nao Kinoshita-Wylie to reflect on her magical 1997 NCAA tournament run and her overall career. Click here to listen to the interview.
To view the complete list of SCAC Women's Tennis Top Moments, click here.
Throughout the 2010-2011 academic year, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference will celebrate its 20th anniversary. A special logo commemorating the occasion will be used and the league office will also be releasing the Top 20 moments for each sport the conference sponsors (excluding men's and women's lacrosse).