Santtu Leskinen named CAA Player of the Year in men’s tennis


Senior tennis star, Santtu Leskinen, was named the top player of the CAA for the 2016 season. 

Assistant Sports Editor: Noah Thomas

Santtu Leskinen has been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Player of the Year for men’s tennis.

The senior out of Helsinki, Finland was named the CAA’s top player for 2016 just two days before he and the rest of the UNC Wilmington Seahawks headed to Elon for the CAA Tournament.

“Receiving this award is definitely one of the highlights of my personal collegiate career,” said Leskinen. “It makes all the long tennis practices and fitness sessions worthwhile.”

Leskinen posted a 9-7 singles record during his senior campaign to bring his career record to 37-14. He ranked at No. 120 in the country in individual competition as a member of the No. 67 Seahawks, who clinched the top seed in the CAA Tournament this past weekend.

A four-year veteran on UNCW’s tennis courts, Leskinen has grown increasingly comfortable over each spring semester, both with his teammates and the environment provided by the coastal weather.

“It’s one of those awards that you can’t really win without the support of your teammates, coaches, academic staff and the athletic trainers,” said Leskinen. “These are the people who push you in practice, and help you in every way to be able to play at a high level.”

When asked about how he got to this point, he was quick to defer recognition to his teammates, coaches and the training staff that has taken care of him for so long.

“I’ve had my share of injuries, and without the trainers here I wouldn’t be able to keep my body in one piece,” said Leskinen. “I’ve always been a better player during the spring season and I think me playing for my teammates is a huge part of that, so definitely have to give credit for my teammates.”

Leskinen also made a point of looking to the task ahead at the CAA Tournament over the weekend.

“My coaches here have always pushed me and been tough on me, and I think that is because they saw potential, and pushing me at practice would bring it out,” said Leskinen. “I’m honored to receive this award, but the award that I, and the team, really want to get is the one you lift up on Sunday.”

He led the Seahawks in the No. 1 slot in each of their three matches through Sunday. The Seahawks fell 4-3 to College of Charleston in the finals, while Leskinen went 2-1 in singles competition.

Just missing out on an automatic bid, Leskinen and the Seahawks will wait and see if their efforts were enough to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament.