Birmingham, Ala. - In a continuing effort to recognize the accomplishments of student-athletes beyond the field of competition, the SEC once again highlighted a Community Service Team for women's tennis for the 2020-21 season.
All league-sponsored sports have had a Community Service Team since 2004, with at-large teams for men's and women's sports being chosen from 1999-2003.
Alba Cortina Pou • Alabama
Senior • Blanes, Spain
A two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team, Crimson Tide senior Alba Cortina Pou has been a standout in the Alabama community, giving of her time to a number of causes, including A Night to Remember as well as UA's annual Halloween Extravaganza and Project Angel Tree. As a member of Alabama's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, she helps direct the athletics department's outreach efforts. A CoSIDA Academic All-American and SEC Women's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year, she is pursuing an MBA after earning a bachelor's degree in finance and marketing with a perfect 4.0 grade point average. The 2019 Southern Region Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award winner, she is a three-time ITA Scholar-Athlete and member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. To date she has tallied 125 wins across four seasons for the Crimson Tide between singles and doubles.
Claire Slaughter • Arkansas
Senior • Kingwood, Texas
Claire Slaughter is an all-star among Arkansas student-athletes, representing the women's tennis team on the 2020-21 SEC Community Service Team. Slaughter is a part of a student-athlete body that has impacted over 100 organizations over the last year. Slaughter volunteered her time this season writing letters to veterans and frontline workers at NWA's Mercy Hospital. She also spent time during Read Across America Week to virtually visit with local elementary schools for a nationwide reading celebration in honor of the late Dr. Suess' birthday. Slaughter also took advantage of the opportunity to help the City of Fayetteville in November, acting as a volunteer for the Fayetteville Half Marathon. On top of the time she spends giving back to her community, Slaughter is pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in management with a concentration in organizational leadership.
Taylor Russo • Auburn
Graduate • Deerfield Beach, Fla.
With her third selection to the SEC Community Service Team, Auburn graduate student Taylor Russo continues to exemplify the best in a student-athlete. Although COVID-19 prevented many of the projects she had previously been part of, Russo and the team sponsored two local children through the Salvation Army at Christmas, a project she and the team have undertaken for the last five years. In her time at Auburn, Russo has helped with the Auburn downtown trick-or-treat with her team and other student-athletes. Prior to the pandemic, she and her teammates went to Morningside Nursing Home to decorate residents' doors and the facility to boost holiday spirit. She has also helped make cards for veterans on Valentine's Day and worked with the campus food pantry. Russo was part of the Auburn Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, serving as social media coordinator and treasurer. She earned the Athletic Director's Spirit of Auburn Award for the 2019-20 school year, an award that is presented to the student-athlete that inspires others, gives unselfishly of their time and talents to better their teams, and epitomizes the values in the Auburn Creed.
Marlee Zein • Florida
Junior • Sugar Land, Texas
Florida women's tennis junior Marlee Zein earned a spot on the SEC's Community Service Team for the second year in a row. The junior has played a pivotal role in the Black Student-Athlete Council at UF and volunteered at UF Health, Keep Alachua County Beautiful and carried out initiatives with the Gators Read and Gators Move programs. Due to the impact of COVID-19, volunteers were not allowed to visit patients in the pediatric unit weekly as in years past so Zein and other student-athletes crafted encouraging and uplifting posters and signs. As part of the Gators Read and Gators Move programs, Zein created two videos for students in virtual classes. The Texas native read children's stories on video in order to connect with students all over the country and demonstrated elementary exercises. She also helped organize the team's outing with the Keep Alachua County Beautiful organization when Zein and her teammates helped restore and clean up a local park. Serving as a voice for the women's tennis team on the Black Student-Athlete Council, Zein is a liaison between the Black student athlete-athlete population at UF and the administration. Zein has registered a cumulative 3.62 GPA and is pursuing a major in Health Education and Behavior with a concentration in Pre-professional Health Studies.
Meg Kowalski • Georgia
Junior • Chicago, Ill.
Meg Kowalski has been named to the 2020-21 SEC Community Service Team for the third time in as many seasons. Kowalski has been very active in the Athens community coordinating various fundraisers to reach the underserved communities. This year alone she; led efforts within her team to donate snacks for the Food2Kids Snack Drive benefiting the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, distributed groceries to under privileged Athens residents in a mobile pantry car drive, participated in the Angel Tree Event during which Kowalski and 20 other student-athletes that she encouraged to participate, mentored and gave presents to youths of Athens who have parents that are incarcerated and collaborated with Auburn athletics and orchestrated the "Giving Challenge" which encouraged Georgia students to donate toiletries for unhoused populations via Bigger Vision Community Shelter. She also volunteers with teammate Alee Clayton at Special Pops, a special needs tennis clinic, teaching tennis to those who attend the clinic.
Lesedi Jacobs • Kentucky
Senior • Windhoek, Namibia
Lesedi Jacobs leads the University of Kentucky women's tennis team with 189 hours of community service during her collegiate career. The Windhoek, Namibia, native has touched many diverse organizations in the community, spreading her service across more than 10 different organizations. Some of the groups that she had touched include Special Olympics Kentucky, Amachi Central Kentucky, Habitat for Humanity and the Backpack Program. Through Amachi Central Kentucky, she is able to create relationships with children of incarcerated parents, serving as a friend and mentor to the same children on a regular basis. For the Backpack Program, Jacobs packs hundreds of bags of donated foods, goods and supplies to give to underprivileged children in the greater Lexington community for week nights and weekends. Jacobs was also inducted into the 2020 Frank G. Ham Society of Character last January, a group of student-athletes honored each year who show a profound commitment to the following areas: academic excellence, athletic participation, personal development, community service and career preparation.
Luba Vasilyuk • LSU
Senior • Dallas, Texas
Luba Vasilyuk represented the Tigers well in the community over the course of the academic year. One project Vasilyuk took lead personally and getting her teammates involved in was LSU's Big Buddy Toy Drive. The Big Buddy program in Baton Rouge aims to build a community and create mentoring relationships for the youth across the city. The annual toy drive is aimed to help families in struggling situations have gifts for these kids during the holiday season. Vasilyuk also spent time volunteering at the Charles R. Kelly Community Center, particularly helping with produce distribution to the community. The Charles R. Kelly Community Center offers produce to the community on a first come, first serve basis. Vasilyuk helped by sorting the goods, packing them into bags, and then helped distribute the goods to those who came to visit.
Alexa Bortles • Ole Miss
Senior • Alpharetta, Ga.
Alexa Bortles has been an active volunteer throughout her career at Ole Miss. In 2020-21, Bortles participated in a number of service efforts in both Oxford and at home in Georgia. Over the summer, Bortles and her sister volunteered in their local community to help people with moving between houses. Additionally, she was a voluntary tennis coach over the summer and taught tennis to children. While at Ole Miss she has also participated in events through the Tim Tebow Foundation. Bortles and Tim Sandkaulen (Ole Miss men's tennis) worked together to create the Redshirt Corona Year cause circa March 2020. They advocated for the extension of an additional year of eligibility for student-athletes due to the shortened spring season in 2020. The Red for Corona Instagram account gained viral status and the awareness of the cause increased. Bortles and Sandkaulen even made an appearance on the Paul Finebaum show to discuss the cause. They worked on the cause through the decision to extend eligibility by both the NCAA and the University. This year, Ole Miss launched the social responsibility and engagement department in January 2021 to encourage social impact among student-athletes and athletics staff. Bortles conducted behind-the-scenes work as part of the University's UMity messaging and featured in a video along fellow Ole Miss student athlete to encourage an anti-racism perspective. Bortles has undertaken a memorial role in her final collegiate season. She is currently working on a four-part podcast alongside the teams' sports psychologist, Dr. Josie Nicholson, to share her experiences as a student athlete. She intends to provide insights and tips for student-athletes approaching the ends of their college careers and offer advice on coping with the mental and emotional transitions.
Magda Adaloglou • Mississippi State
Junior • Veria, Greece
Magda Adaloglou has been an active member in her community throughout her career. Most notably, Adaloglou has dedicated hours of her time at the Bulldogs CARE Clothing Drive. Adaloglou was one of many Mississippi State student-athletes who participated in the donating, sorting, folding and distribution of the items. In addition, Adaloglou serves on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She collaborates with other MSU student-athletes to serve as a voice for her peers, as well as advocate for student-athletes' well-being. Adaloglou and Mississippi State's SAAC have participated in various community service opportunities throughout the past year such as thanking essential and frontline workers in the Starkville community and National Reading Across America Day.
Marta Oliveira • Missouri
Senior • Lisbon, Portugal
Marta Oliveira has been a constant fixture in the Columbia community since arriving on campus, as she has led the team in logged community service hours over the past four seasons. Oliveira has volunteered at numerous local organizations throughout her time at Mizzou, as she has offered her time with Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics, the Food Bank and the Columbia Recycling Plan. Oliveira has also put an emphasis on visiting hospitals, as she routinely made appearances at VA events each season while in Columbia. Finally, Oliveira has taken advantage of Mizzou Athletics and University of Missouri-organized events, donating her time at Mizzou Moves, the Inclusive Excellence Mile and Tiger Good For Friends / Food Recovery Network.
Kennedy Wicker • South Carolina
Senior • Charlotte, N.C.
Kennedy Wicker was the most active member of South Carolina's team this past academic year, participating in multiple community service projects and outreach initiatives. One project in which Wicker participated was a backpack school supply drive to provide a boost for educators and families struggling financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplies were gathered from student-athletes and staff in collection boxes in the athletics department. The goal was to fill backpacks and pencil pouches with those donations and after exceeding expectations, the items were given to a local middle school. Wicker was also one of several student-athletes who took part in a thank-a-thon by calling Gamecock Club members who allowed the athletics department to keep the funds they donated even though they might not have received tickets and/or parking benefits. With the significant loss of revenue for the department due to the pandemic, these donors truly believed in our mission to provide a championship level experience for our student-athletes. Wicker spent several hours speaking with donors and thanking them for their generosity and commitment to South Carolina athletics. In the fall, Wicker participated in an exhibition mixed doubles match at a local tennis club to support a fundraiser. She also made Christmas cards for sick kids at a children's hospital.
Kylie Duckworth • Tennessee
Junior • Martinez, Ga.
Kylie Duckworth is an active member in the community, Duckworth has logged 39 hours during her junior year and has 80 total hours during her time on Rocky Top. During the 2020-21 academic year, the Martinez, Georgia product spends an hour and a half every week at the Amedisys Hospice as she has aspirations to go to medical school after she graduates from Tennessee. She has also has recorded hours with the Little Smokies and the Cherokee Country Club. Duckworth also gives her time to animal shelters in the Knoxville area. This year, she has stepped up in UT's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), serving as a liaison between the women's tennis team, Tennessee Athletics and the SEC. She has taken a leadership role within SAAC on the Diversity and Inclusion committee as a co-chair to bring light to issues regarding diversity and inclusion.
Tatiana Makarova • Texas A&M
Senior • Moscow, Russia
Tatiana Makarova was one of four Texas A&M participants in the 2020 SEC Career Tour. She also Participated in National Women and Girls in Sports Day for a second straight year at a local elementary school. She spent time with multiple classes on zoom calls explaining the benefits of athletics and exercise while participating in tennis drills with the school children. Visited another local elementary school as part of 'Virtual Aggies MOVE', jumping on Zoom calls with local elementary schools to promote physical fitness in a virtual classroom environment.
Christina Rosca • Vanderbilt
Graduate • Princeton, N.J.
Christina Rosca is an active member in the Nashville community, she has helped guide the next generation of students by tutoring local high school students. Rosca also participates heavily in Vanderbilt's Dancing Dores program, which is a program made up of Commodore student-athletes participating in the annual Vanderbilt Dance Marathon - the largest student-led philanthropic organization on Vanderbilt's campus - that builds relationships with local children and families served at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt while also raising funds to help the hospital serve the children and their families through difficult times. Rosca also works throughout the year with Miracle Children that are part of the Children's Hospital's network, offering them the chance to be a part of the women's tennis program through active participation and interaction with members of the program.