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Funke named SAC Women's Tennis Scholar Athlete of the Year

Funke named SAC Women's Tennis Scholar Athlete of the Year

ROCK HILL, S.C. --- Tusculum's Franziska Funke has been named the South Atlantic Conference Women's Tennis Scholar Athlete of the Year announced league officials Thursday.

The SAC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award is presented annually to a student-athlete in each of the conference's 20 championship sports and is selected by the league's faculty athletic representatives.

Funke graduated from Tusculum earlier this month with honors and a degree in management and economics.  She finished with an impressive 3.99 cumulative grade point average while earning recognition to the SAC Commissioner's Honor Roll, Tusculum Athletic Director's Honor Roll, President's List, Charles Oliver Gray Honors List and is a member of the Alpha Chi Academic Honor Society.

This marks the third time in four years and seventh time overall that a Tusculum women's tennis player has earned SAC Scholar Athlete of the Year honors.  Funke joins an elite group which includes two-time selection Lesley Murray (2003 & 2004), Jobria McCracken (2005), Blake Thompson (2011), Katie Hutchinson (2015) and Erin Mills (2016).

Since becoming eligible for South Atlantic Conference Awards in 1999, Tusculum's seven Women's Tennis Scholar Athletes are the most in the league during that 19-year span.

Funke has completed one of the most successful playing careers in program history.  The four-time All-SAC selection led the Pioneers to a pair of NCAA Division II Tournament appearances (2017 & 2018) and the 2017 SAC Tournament Championship.  Her teams posted an impressive 78-17 overall record including 38-5 in league play over the last four seasons.  Tusculum also finished the season nationally-ranked in three of her four seasons including this year as the Pioneers ended the year listed 14th in NCAA II.

The Bochum, Germany native was named All-SAC first team in singles for the third time in her career after compiling a 15-4 record during the 2017-18 season.  She finishes as Tusculum's career leader in singles victories with 69 (69-15). Funke played primarily at number-two singles for the Pioneers, where she went 12-4 overall, and had an 8-2 record in SAC singles matches during the 2018 season.  For her efforts she was named the recipient of the Southeast Region Most Improved Senior Award which is selected by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.

"Franziska has embodied everything it means to be a student-athlete during her career at Tusculum," said Pioneer head coach Adam Jackson.  "Her stellar career on the tennis court is indicative of the hard work and dedication she also puts into her studies which has led her to being a role model for her teammates.  I am very proud her and all she has accomplished."

Funke was nationally-ranked in singles for most of the 2018 season, reaching as high as 31st in the Oracle/ITA Division II national singles rankings. Funke won 12 of her 15 singles matches in straight sets, and had a perfect 3-0 record in matches that went to three sets or a tiebreaker. She won the A draw singles title at the Grizzly Open at Georgia Gwinnett College in the fall by winning four matches.

Funke won at least 14 singles matches in each of her four seasons for the Pioneers, including a stellar 22-1 record as a sophomore. She compiled a 45-9 career singles record at the number-two position in the lineup, and also earned seven wins in 10 career contests at the top of the singles lineup.

In doubles, Funke teamed with Katarina Majorova for an 18-3 record this season, including a 15-2 mark at the number-two position in the Tusculum lineup. Funke and Majorova had a 9-1 record in conference doubles matches and were named first-team All-SAC for the second straight year as a duo.

A three-time All-SAC first team doubles selection in her career, Funke finished with a career record of 74-18 in doubles for the Pioneers, including an 18-1 mark as a freshman and 21 victories as a junior. She had a 28-3 record at number-two doubles for the Pioneers, and a 42-13 mark at number-one doubles.

She is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America® second team choice and is a four-time ITA Scholar Athlete.   Funke has been active in community service where she has volunteered with the Read Across America Program, provided free tennis clinics to middle school student and created a business plan for a non-profit organization.  She served as a representative with the Pioneer Student Athlete Advisory Committee and volunteered with the Nichols Tennis Complex facility restoration project.

Tusculum finished with an overall record of 21-3 and in second place in the South Atlantic Conference with a 9-1 league record. The Pioneers advanced to the SAC semifinal round and were selected to participate in the NCAA Division II Women's Tennis Championship for the second straight year and 10th time in program history. Tusculum defeated Queens 5-2 in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast Regional before being eliminated by national semifinalist Columbus State in the second round.

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