Nov. 18, 2013
Julia Dunbar and Rina Sakai are the newest members of Siena's women's tennis program. Each signed binding National Letters of Intent to Siena during the Early Signing Period.
"I'm incredibly excited to have Julia and Rina join the Siena Community and our women's tennis program," women's tennis head coach Andy Christodoulou said. "We're very fortunate to add two young women with such solid character. Both student athletes are a perfect fit for our school and tennis team. They give 100% effort every time, have a winners mentality and a never say die attitude."
In addition to their athletic scholarships, Dunbar and Sakai are both Siena College Presidential scholars.
Dunbar (Westlake, Ohio/Westlake) continues a recent trend of talent making its way to Loudonville from the Buckeye State, joining current freshmen Mitsuki Fukamachi (Mayfield, Hts.) and Ali Garrity (Medina) and senior Carly Holloway (Willoughby).
"Julia is a well-conditioned, all-court player who comes off as a baseliner," Christodoulou said. "Her effective groundstrokes provide an abundance of opportunities for net play and her strong net play lends itself for an aggressive style of doubles play."
Dunbar was named to the High Honor Roll at Westlake, earned the Kiwanis Club High Honor Roll Distinction Award, and the Presidential Academic Achievement Award. She served as Co-President of the school's National Art Honor Society and the National Honor Society.
"Julia took her search for the right fit for her academic and tennis home for her college years very seriously," Dunbar's father Ralph said. "As a student, the smaller class sizes and friendly advisors made her feel very comfortable, and she felt they would help her grow as an individual and set her up well for graduate school. The athletic program is comprehensive and offers just the right competitive level of play, a structured fitness program to stay in shape and caring and hardworking team members. She is very excited to be part of the Siena community".
A Silver Racquet Award recipient from the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association, Dunbar was a First Team All-Conference recipient all four years and was awarded MVP of her conference in 2013. She qualified to participate at the State Tennis Tournament three of her four years in high school player and was team captain for her final two seasons. Dunbar has also been an active participant in the USTA Junior Tennis Circuit for the past nine years.
"Julia's tennis game will continue to improve this year and well into college," Dunbar's personal tennis coach Eric Hodge said. "We have several things we are working on that she will bring to her college tennis play. Julia likes both doubles and singles, so college tennis is perfect for her. She puts her heart into whatever she does and Siena is very lucky to have such a solid player for their team and great individual for their school community. Julia is an asset to everyone she meets."
Off the court, Dunbar has been a Special Needs Student Assistant all four years of high school and a Peer Tutor/Peer Mediator. She has participated in the Green and White Newspaper as a photographer, is a member of the Math Club, Project Love and Running Club. Dunbar is an active member of her hometown community, serving as West Shore special needs summer camp volunteer and Relay for Life event coordinator. She also helped develop and instruct tennis at a special needs summer tennis program for young adults this past summer, and acted as a USTA assistant tournament director.
Sakai, a native of Tokyo, Japan, has been studying at the Weil Tennis Academy and College Preparatory School since 2011 in Ojai, California.
"Rina is an aggressive baseliner who is able to fight with a strong determination," Christodoulou said. "She has excellent crosscourt shots that she often uses to open up the court. Rina still has a lot of potential to improve, and I believe her game and personality will bring a great impact to the program and Siena Community."
Sakai posted several Tournament wins, including: 69th Annual Ventura Junior Tournament (Winner - 18s), 2013 Jackie Tatum Tennis Tournament Classic (Winner - 18s), 2013 ITA Summer College Circuit La Verne (Doubles Finalist), and 2013 Oxnard Tennis Center Junior Open Tournament (Winner - 18s).
"Rina has been training at Weil Tennis Academy for the past three years and I have found her to be a strong student academically and a role model of her peers," Sakai's private coach Yusuke Kusuda said. "Rina is an excellent communicator and motivator. She is a well-rounded and a gifted individual with a warm personality. Rina has always impressed me with her knowledge as well as her skill and dedication to her work on and off the court. I am very proud of Rina to be playing for Siena College and look forward to see her competing at the Division I level. I believe her game and personality will bring a great and positive impact to the program. We will miss her here at the Academy."
Sakai's father Takeshi said her family will be watching her progress from Japan.
"I think Siena College is good fit for my daughter," Takeshi said. "Siena has wonderful programs both in academics and athletics. Training and studying at Siena will bring her into the next level not only in tennis but also in her career. I am anticipating her success at Siena and everyone in the family will be following her progress step by step from Japan."