Tanvi Narendran named 2022 Southern Arizona Student Athlete of the Year; Milo Rushford, Marcus Coleman and Dylan Dreis also recognized

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

The Tucson Citizen profiled the Old Pueblo’s finest high school student-athletes from 1957 through 2008 and the tradition of recognizing only the very best was continued on the pages of the TucsonCitizen.com website. We have continued this tradition at AllSportsTucson.com since 2014.

12 graduating seniors submitted an application and those were judged on academics, athletics, leadership, service to their school and on a one-page essay on who influenced them most in their lives. This year, the top award came with a scholarship worth $1,000 from the Old Pueblo Abuelo Morales Foundation. The next three athletes selected received individual Hector Avila Morales, Jr. Scholarships.

University High School standout tennis player Tanvi Narendran earned the top prize; Walden Grove baseball standout Milo Rushford, Pueblo basketball standout Marcus Coleman and Salpointe multi-sport athlete Dylan Dreis were also recognized for their achievements.

Tanvi graduated from University High with a 4.65 weighted GPA with a total of 16 AP courses, she was named AP National Scholar with Distinction in 2020, 2021, and 2022 and she scored a 35 (out of 36) on the ACT. A University of Arizona Honors College Baird Scholarship recipient for excellence in academics and leadership, Tanvi will also be playing tennis for the Wildcats. She was the 2022 Division I AIA state singles champion.

Her leadership accomplishments included Party Leader in the University High Mock Election, Arizona Regional President of Second Serve, organization dedicated to collecting and donating used tennis equipment to communities in need, and she was a Junior Intern at the Mexican Consulate, dealing with undocumented immigrants’ hearings and helping to translate from Spanish to English.


Tanvi and her father. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

While most sports provide you with a team with which you can share both the glory and the blame, tennis puts both on you and only you. And unlike other individual sports such as swimming and gymnastics, in tennis you are plainly and clearly pitted against another competitor. Every time I step onto the tennis court to play a match, I am a solitary warrior, hurling my entire arsenal at my opponent while deflecting blows.

But I’m never completely alone, as I know that my dad is always rooting for me wherever I am,
almost experiencing my successes and defeats as his own. He doesn’t cheer nor clap, but instead he internalizes the nuances of my match and channels it into ways to make me better for the next match.

There have been many people who have influenced me greatly in my life, but my father is truly the most influential. Bridging the gap between parent and coach is no easy task, but my dad
accomplished it brilliantly, teaching me to carry the lessons I learn in my sport into my life. Be
efficient with your energy. Working hard is the only path to success. Never give up, even if you’re down a set and three games.

While he has never labeled himself as my tennis coach, my dad is the reason I play tennis. Narendran Shanmugavelu moved from India to Tucson, Arizona in 1991 to complete his education at the University of Arizona. Tennis became a favorite hobby of his, and he spent much of his time playing with friends at the Tucson Country Club. They called him “the gazelle” because of how quickly and gracefully he moved across the court.

As a child, I was heavily exposed to the sport, watching him play and even dabbling in it a bit
myself. However, I never really enjoyed tennis, or any sport for that matter. I was smaller than most kids my age and not the most coordinated. As a nine-year-old, I would dread my weekly tennis lesson with Coach Evan at La Mariposa. I probably would have quit tennis at that point if not for my dad, who told me to keep at it because I was too young to realize the benefits playing a sport would bring me in the future.

So I did keep at it. I didn’t practice much and I was handed loss after loss in the tournaments I
entered, but I kept playing and learning. “Losses teach you far more than wins,” my dad would say. As I grew up, I got more and more interested in tennis, spending hours on court with my dad that I look back on as some of the best times of my life.

He told me to trust the process when I felt like giving up, chewing me out at the right times and
providing me with support at the right times. He sent me to several different coaches to get different perspectives on my game. He played practice matches with me daily when COVID struck. He worked as hard on my technique as I did. And suddenly I started beating the players that I would always lose to. I had never believed I would, but my dad always had.

As I got better, he flew across the country with me so I could play in national tournaments. Because of his guidance and the opportunities he allowed me, I was able to improve my national ranking from 180 as a freshman to 35 as a senior. I will always cherish our standard pre-match sushi dinners, from Chicago to Charleston to Mobile, Alabama. He will always be the best warm up partner I could ask for. Because of my dad, tennis doesn’t feel like work to me. It truly feels like play. He has taught me that working hard can be a lot of fun, which will serve me in all aspects of my life.

Tanvi was the 2022 AIA D-I State Singles Champion at Rincon/UHS. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

1957 D.L. Secrist Jr. Tucson High
1958 Donald Parsons Catalina
1959 Edward Brown Flowing Wells
1960 Terry DeJonghe Salpointe
1961 Robert Svob Catalina
1962 Ray Kosanke Tucson High
1963 Michael Aboud Tucson High
1964 Pat McAndrew Flowing Wells
1965 Charles Begley Sunnyside
1966 Eric Evett Catalina
1967 Ron Curry Tucson High
1968 Jeff Lovin Palo Verde
1969 Bruce Pawlowski Salpointe
1970 Dave Henry Sahuaro
1971 Tom Hagen Salpointe
1972 Bill Baechler Palo Verde
1973 Francisco Gomez Pueblo
1974 Richard Rucker Canyon del Oro
1975 Guillermo Robles Sunnyside
1976 Karen Christensen Rincon
1977 Michael Wing Rincon
1978 Craig Barker Amphitheater
1979 Ralph Gay Sunnyside
1980 Kristine Bush Sabino
1981 Lisa Kay Baker Sahuaro
1982 Vickie Patton Marana
1983 Martin Tetreault Sahuaro
1984 Molly Reiling Salpointe
1985 Timothy Roggeman Salpointe
1986 Jon Volpe Amphitheater
1987 Luis A. Padilla Pueblo
1988 Nicole Stern Catalina
1989 Robert Moen Flowing Wells
1990 Grace O’Neill Salpointe
1991 Angel Phillips Rincon
1992 Zenen Salazar Sunnyside
1993 Michelle Vielledent Sahuaro
1994 Julie Reitan Sahuaro and Brady Bennon Sabino
1995 Kelly Yablonski University High
1996 Joe Aguirre Palo Verde
1997 Andy Viner University High
1998 Scott Beck Canyon del Oro
1999 Glenn Schatz University High
2000 Nicole Voelkel University High
2001 Ai-ris Yonekura Catalina Foothills
2002 Philo Sanchez Sunnyside
2003 Tim Ashcraft Sahuaro
2004 Joe Kay Tucson High
2005 Tiffany Hosten Tucson High and Echo Fallon Catalina Foothills
2006 Michael Smith Sunnyside
2007 Tara Erdmann Flowing Wells
2008 James Eichberger Catalina

2009 Sun Park Cienega
2010 Christine Clark Tucson High
2011 LeeAndra Smith Palo Verde
2012 Rachel Ward (Pusch Ridge) and Robin Landrith (Ironwood Ridge)
2013 Mally McGarity (Marana) and Asha Esprit (University High)

2014 Amanda Nicholas Sahuaro
2015 Laura McGeary Flowing Wells and Courtney Brown Flowing Wells
2016 Cheyenne Pitts Mountain View
2017 Jacqueline Igulu Palo Verde
2018 Tyson Corner Marana
2019 Luc Rosenblatt Salpointe
2020 Shana Brown Ironwood Ridge
2021 Rumur Rouille Ironwood Ridge
2022 Tanvi Narendran University High


Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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