Former Russell and current West Virginia State tennis player Kierstin Hensley was named All-American this week.

Kierstin Hensley is officially West Virginia State University’s first women’s tennis All-American.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association — governing body of college tennis — announced its All-American Awards this week after a shortened season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hensley, a senior and Russell graduate, earned the recognition in Division II singles after meeting multiple criteria.

“I am so blessed to have been given this amazing award,” Hensley said. “It reflects how hard I’ve worked over the past four years. This is one of the big things I was working so hard for during that time. I have such an amazing support system from my coaches, teammates, friends, family and most importantly God.”  

Hensley put herself in excellent position last September by winning the Atlantic Regional singles title. She concluded the fall portion of the schedule with a No. 12 national ranking. It rated as the best ever for a player from WVSU or the Mountain East Conference.

The Yellow Jackets played only five matches in 2020 before the remainder of the season was canceled.

Hensley was an All-MEC selection in each of her three previous seasons. As a junior, she helped lead West Virginia State to its fifth conference championship in six years. Hensley provided the clinching point.    

“Kierstin is the heart of WVSU women’s tennis,” coach John Simms said. “We already considered her an All-American; this just makes it official. She’s worked very hard and really deserves this honor.”

Hensley entered the college ranks with a strong doubles background, including two state high school titles with Maci Ferguson. Hensley became a fixture at No. 1 doubles early in her WVSU career, then took over the team’s No. 1 singles spot permanently midway through her junior season. She went on to compile a 30-1 career confererence singles record.

Overall, Hensley won a combined 127 matches in singles and doubles, by Simms’ count.

“It is almost impossible to describe how much she means to our school and tennis program,” the coach said.

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