FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas men’s tennis player Matt Walters
earned selection to the Fifth Annual Southeastern Conference Sportsmanship Award, the league office announced today.
Walters, who just completed his final season as a member of the Razorback men’s tennis team was one of two captains on a team that finished with 14 wins on the year. He guided the Razorbacks to a No. 32 ranking in the nation, its highest since the 2006 season.
"We are proud that Matt has been recognized by the SEC for his exemplary sportsmanship,” Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long said. “He represents the more than 460 outstanding student-athletes we have at the University of Arkansas. Congratulations to Matt on this prestigious award. "
Walters is the second Razorback to be selected in a vote by the league’s athletic directors. Dorian Ulrey
of the Razorback track and field team was selected in 2009.
Walters demonstrated his commitment to sportsmanship this season in match against an SEC rival from LSU. Walters was leading the match, 4-2, but his opponent thought the score was 5-2. Walters won the next point and his opponent returned to the bench thinking the set was over. Walter had to convince his opponent that he had not yet won the match and that the score was wrong.
Walters’ opponent returned to the court to finish play and went on to win not only the game but the match. Walters was committed to doing the right thing and telling the truth even though it cost him the victory.
Walters was voted the Arkansas Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Sportsmanship Award winner as well.
A Jonesboro, Ark. native, Walters always dreamed of being a Razorback and was able to achieve that dream Over the last four years under current head coach, Robert Cox
, Walters had arguably his best year as a senior as he tallied 15 wins in singles, good for second on the team, and also teamed up with junior Hall Fess
to be one of the dominant doubles teams in the nation. After accumulating 20 wins together including three over nationally ranked opponents, Walters and Fess garnered a national ranking of their own as they finished the season as the No. 49 team in the country.
Over his career, Walters won over 45 singles matches, 50 doubles matches and was a clear leader on the court. Arkansas head coach Robert Cox
said that Walters was one of the key factors in this year’s team after achieving big wins over Santa Clara and Vanderbilt and that his “team-first” attitude became contagious.
"It doesn't surprise me at all that Matt would be recognized with this honor,” Cox said. “Throughout Matt's career at Arkansas he has demonstrated good sportsmanship on and off the court. Although Matt competes very hard and is the ultimate warrior during competition, his desire to compete is pure and has never deviated from the true spirit of competition. He has represented himself and the University of Arkansas in a first class manner. Matt always has respected his opponent and the game of tennis in an honorable way. He is a true sportsman and every young player can learn from Matt's character on court. Congratulations to Matt."
Walters play on the court speaks for itself but what many fans don’t see is that he has spent many hours during his Razorback career volunteering in the Northwest Arkansas community and doing mission work outside of the country in places like Central America.