ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia senior tennis player Maho Kowase was awarded the 2012-13 NCAA Sportsmanship Award, the NCAA announced Friday.
“We’re all so happy for Maho,” said Georgia head coach Jeff Wallace. “All of the coaches, athletes and administrators at Georgia are so proud of her for winning this very prestigious award. It’s a well-deserved honor. She is a great competitor in every sense of the word.”
During the second round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Tennis Championships versus Clemson, Kowase was trailing in the final set when the umpire made an incorrect call that favored her.
When Kowase’s opponent challenged the call, Kowase immediately agreed and asked the umpire to correct the mistake.
“At first, I wanted to take the point, because it was the biggest match of the season and a point could change a lot of things,” Kowase said. “Teammates, coaches and fans were cheering for me…and I wanted to give everything I had for the team. I also knew that my opponent from Clemson wanted to do the same thing for her team, so knowing what the true score was, I knew I needed to step in and correct the referee and play it fair.”
Kowase ultimately won the match and helped Georgia win a thrilling 4-3 match.
In nominating her for the award, Georgia’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Communications Claude Felton, called Kowase’s actions “one of the most honest moments in Georgia tennis history.”
“I believe part of being a good sport is having respect for your opponent, enjoying what you do, and giving 100 percent all the time,” Kowase said. “When both players do this, the match becomes so much fun and I feel great after leaving the court no matter what the score was.”
Kowase is the first Georgia student-athlete to win the award.
Earlier this year, Kowase was awarded the SEC Sportsmanship award by SEC Athletic Directors.
Kowase was one of three athletes given the NCAA award. Air Force track and field student-athlete William Kent and Illinois College golf student-athlete Wilson Neill were the other recipients.