Bronco Signee Ashby Wins Prestigious WMTA Award
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - It was announced earlier this month that Meika Ashby, a senior at Hackett Catholic Central High School and an incoming member of the Western Michigan women's tennis team for the 2013-14 season, is the first-ever recipient of the Karie Schlukebir Pennock Award.
The award is given annually by the Western Michigan Tennis Association to the tennis player who best exemplifies the passion and heart for the sport of tennis as the award's namesake. Karie Schlukebir Pennock graduated from nearby Mattawan High School in 1998 and played four seasons of collegiate tennis at Indiana, captaining the Hoosier team that won the 2004 Big Ten championship. All the while, Schlukebir Pennock battled and received treatment for the skin cancer known as melanoma.
Schlukebir Pennock lost her 11-year battle with cancer in 2010, but her memory is kept alive by the award that bears her name. Winning the award bears special significance to Ashby, who kept a close relationship with Schlukebir Pennock.
“Karie and I were very close, so this award means the world to me,” Ashby told Pam Shebest in an MLive.com article on April 2, 2013 . “It’s very close to my heart. It was very hard when she passed.”
Ashby signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Western Michigan in November, where she will play on the Broncos women's tennis team. She earned Division 4 First Team All-State honors in her junior season, reaching the state championship match for the third straight season. Ashby won state titles in the two years before that, taking home the #2 singles title as a freshman and the #1 singles title as a sophomore.
According to Ashby, the decision to attend Western Michigan came down to the University's academics, as well as having the opportunity to play under the guidance of Hall of Fame head coach Betsy Kuhle.
“It was a really hard decision but it came down to the excellent coaching Western has and it’s close to home," Ashby told Shebest in an MLive.com article on April 2, 2013. "It’s such a great school. (Betsy Kuhle) is such an amazing coach. I’m so excited to be one of her players.”