2002-03 Honor Roll: Amber Liu

The tenth and final winner of The Bootleg's Honor Roll award is tennis star Amber Liu. Amber got on an incredible roll at the end of the season - she didn't stop until she was the NCAA singles champ (as a freshman).

In the May/June issue of The Bootleg Magazine (re-published on TheBootleg.com in late-June), we introduced The Bootleg Honor Roll and also released a list of 30 finalists for this award for the 2002/2003 school-year. Here is a link to that story.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg’s Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees’ performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed “Spirit of Stanford.”

During the month of July, we will be releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one. The announced winners so far are baseball catcher Ryan Garko, water polo’s Tony Azevedo, volleyball's Logan Tom, soccer's Marcia Wallis and track & field's Grant Robison , swimmer Tara Kirk, baseball's Carlos Quentin, middle distance runner Lauren Fleshman and swimmer Randall Bal.

The tenth and final recipient of The Bootleg Honor Roll award is tennis star Amber Liu. OK, we know what you are thinking - what up with this? Amber wasn't even one of the 30 finalists that we announced for this award in May. And, this selection was the subject of some serious internal “discussions” amongst The Bootleg staff. But, in the end, we decided to disregard our own rule and recognize Amber Liu for the incredible finish she had to her freshman season.

No sooner had we announced our 30 finalists then Liu went on a winning streak that stretched until the end of the season, when she was ultimately crowned NCAA individual singles champion. By beating #1 seed Vilmarie Castellvi (Tennessee) 7-6, 6-2 in the finals, Liu became only the third Stanford freshman ever to win the NCAA singles title (Lilia Osterloh and Laura Granville also did it in 1997 and 2000, respectively).

Liu (from La Mesa, CA) played #1 for the Stanford all season and did not lose a match in the team NCAA's. Unfortunately, the Cardinal lost to host Florida 4-3 in the finals. For her accomplishments, Liu was named the 2003 ITA Women's National Player of the Year.

But Liu wasn't done. In early July, Liu advanced to the finals of a USTA Challenger event in Los Gatos. Later in the month, she won her first WTA match in the opening round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford. Even though she was handily beaten by Kim Clijsters in the following round, Liu feels like she can hold her own on the women's pro tour. As the NCAA singles winner, she will get a wild-card entry into the U.S. Open in late-August, and a chance to measure her game against the best players in the world. Shortly thereafter, Liu will decide if she is coming back for her sophomore season at Stanford, or if she wants to take on the pro tour on a full-time basis. The Bootleg hopes she stays on The Farm for another season. She may even make our Honor Roll finalists list next year!

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