May 15, 2013
Air Force men’s tennis player Lance Wilhelm has been named the Senior of the Year for the Mountain Region, announced by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. Wilhelm will be one of 12 players from across the country on the ballot for the national award, to be announced later this month.
Wilhelm, from Gig Harbor, Wash., turned in one of the best careers in the history of Air Force tennis. He is one of only two players in program history to earn four team MVP awards and played No. 1 singles during in each dual match during his career. Thrust into the No. 1 spot as a freshman, he responded immediately, beating the region's No. 9 ranked player in his first dual match ever and then finished his senior year with a 15-7 singles and 17-7 doubles record, the most combined wins on the team. He was also a two-time Mountain West Conference player in both singles and doubles, the first Falcon to do that since Shannon Buck in 2006.
“Each year, Lance developed more weapons, shored up his weaknesses, and became stronger mentally,” said Air Force head coach Dan Oosterhous. “In his senior year, he had four wins over nationally ranked players, all ranked above him at the time. Only one of those wins was at home. His best wins were not at the Academy, they were on his opponent's home court. That says something about what kind of player he is.”
According to the latest Division I rankings, Wilhelm is ranked 82nd in the nation and the seventh-highest ranked American senior. Wilhelm also shined in doubles, posting a 30-17 record at the No. 1 spot the past two years, and was selected as an All-American by the National Strength and Conditioning Association this year. He is the first tennis player in school history to achieve this status.
Wilhelm will graduate later this month with a degree in physics, one of the most demanding degrees at the Air Force Academy, and will enter the United States Air Force as a 2nd Lieutenant in the very selective field as a scientist.