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October 21, 2013

Lupita Hernandez York to be inducted into TTU Sports Hall of Fame Friday night


Fourth in a series
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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Lupita Hernandez was a four-time all-OVC tennis player, a two-time OVC Player of the Year selection, and shared the 2002 honor as Tennessee Tech’s Outstanding Female Athlete. She led the Golden Eagles to the school’s only OVC championship in women’s tennis.

Hernandez is one of five people who will be inducted at the annual Hall of Fame Dinner, scheduled for Friday night, in the Multipurpose Room of the Roaden University Center. The induction dinner is part of Homecoming festivities. Tickets for the dinner, or the Saturday afternoon game against Jacksonville State, can be purchased through the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Before Tennessee Tech placed much in the way of resources toward the women’s tennis program, the Golden Eagles fell victim to several seasons at or near the bottom of the Ohio Valley Conference standings. Then came the decision to hunt for new talent from around the world. Head coach Randy Smith and assistant Aldrin Campos began searching around the globe for players who might lift Tech toward the top.

A trio of international players (including 2011 Hall of Fame Inductee Esra Bayburt Roan) pushed the Golden Eagles into contention in the mid 90s, but it took a powerful go-getter from Villahermosa, Mexico, to bring home the school’s only OVC championship.

Campos annually attended tryouts hosted by the Mexican Federation, and in 1997 he spotted an ambitious, young competitor with more than enough talent. Lupita Hernandez was ranked fifth in the 18-under category, an extremely talented group of young competitors, at the time of the tryouts. A month later, she was the fifth player overall signed from this event and the first 1997 Golden Eagle signee to be announced by Smith.

Hernandez had several championships under her belt before being invited to play for Tech, including state, regional, and national championships. She even landed a win in a national master championship.

Her tremendous talent on the tennis courts carried over into her college career as she led the Golden Eagles to their first-ever OVC Championship her freshman year. It completed an OVC sweep by Tech, as the men’s team also won the conference championship the same season.

In her four years as a Golden Eagle, she led the team to many more victories, placing Tech consistently in the league’s top three. With her help, the Golden Eagles posted an overall 25-3 OVC record from 1998-2002, including undefeated logs in two of those seasons. Tech was 8-0 against the OVC in 1999 and 7-0 in 2002. With Hernandez anchoring the lineup, Tech boasted a 58-29 overall record in dual matches over that four-year span.

Hernandez was selected as the OVC Player of the Year in 1999 with a record of 19-5 and repeated that prestigious honor again in 2001. She was selected to the all-OVC team every year from 1999-2002 (one of only two Tech women to earn four all-OVC tennis selections, along with Marietta Valkova).

Her name resonates throughout the Golden Eagle record book. She ranks first in career singles victories (105-21), first in doubles wins (95-24) and first in overall combined wins (200-45). She had the top three seasons in school history for singles wins (30, 28 and 28), the top doubles season (32) and the top two combined season victory totals (60 and 52).

On campus, she received the President’s Award in 2000. In 2002, she was voted co-winner of the Outstanding Female Athlete award, sharing the honor with Janet Holt.

Lupita graduated from Tennessee Tech in 2003 with a degree in business management. She married Matthew York and currently lives in Portland, Tenn.