West Liberty’s Howard is WVIAC Player of the Year

CHARLESTON, W.Va. West Liberty University sophomore Lauren Howard was honored Friday as the West Virginia Conference’s 2012 Women’s Tennis Player of the Year when the WVIAC tennis coaches announced the 2012 All-WVIAC women’s tennis team.

It’s the third Player of the Year honor in the last four seasons for Coach Heather Gallagher’s Lady Hilltopper program.

The announcement came during a break in quarterfinal action at the 2012 WVIAC Tennis Championships at the Schoenbaum Tennis Complex. West Liberty junior Raissa Wischi shared the spotlight with Howard, earning first-team All-WVIAC honors for the third consecutive year.

A sophomore from Lee-on-Solent, England, Howard was a major factor as the Hilltoppers rolled to a runner-up finish in the WVIAC regular-season standings and the No. 2 seed in this weekend’s tournament.

Last season’s WVIAC Freshman of the Year, Howard compiled a 9-1 record in conference play at No. 1 singles and teamed with junior standout Raissa Wischi the 2010 WVIAC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year to post an unblemished 10-0 mark at No. 1 doubles.

Wischi, a native of Sao Paolo, Brazil, also had an outstanding season for the Black and Gold. In addition to her undefeated record at No. 1 doubles, Wischi went 9-1 at No. 2 singles with her only loss coming to unbeaten WVIAC Freshman of the Year Brittany Franco of West Virginia State.

West Liberty was scheduled to take on Seton Hill Friday afternoon in a WVIAC quarterfinal.