Nicole Tan ’20 Earns NCAA Woman of the Year Nomination

Nicole Tan ’20, a graduating Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women’s tennis player, has been nominated for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award. She is one of two candidates selected by Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Established in 1991, the NCAA Woman of the Year Award honors academic achievements, athletics excellence, community service, and leadership of outstanding female college athletes.

“We are thrilled that Nicole has earned recognition from the NCAA and the SCIAC for her efforts on the court, in the classroom, and in the community,” said Director of Athletics Erica Perkins Jasper. “She is a tremendous scholar-leader-athlete, and we are exceptionally proud of her.”

In the next round in September, the NCAA Woman of the Year committee will choose 30 (10 from each division). The Committee on Women’s Athletics narrow the pool to nine finalists (three from each division), before the award winner is revealed on November 1.

Tan had a major impact on CMS tennis from the moment she arrived on campus from Singapore in 2016-17. As a first-year, she was named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Rookie of the Year after compiling an undefeated singles record (17-0) during the spring season. She went on to play No. 1 singles and No. 1 doubles on the 2018 CMS national champion team as a sophomore, and as a junior, she finished as the national runner-up in the NCAA Division III Doubles Championship for the second time in her career after also reaching the finals in 2017. She earned All-America honors five times in her three full seasons (three in doubles and two in singles).  

Tan playing tennis

Over Tan’s four seasons, CMS finished ranked No. 3, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 1 in the country, the top four finishes in program history. This year’s team was 14-0 and ranked No. 1 nationally when spring sports were suspended in March, preventing Tan and the Athenas from making a run at a second national championship in the past three years.

In the classroom, Tan graduated from Claremont McKenna with a 3.87 grade point average in neuroscience, and was a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America selection. She earned third-team Academic All-America honors as a junior last year and then captured first-team honors this spring, becoming only the sixth CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-America selection in CMS athletics history in all sports, and the second women’s tennis player (joining Kristin Lim ’13). Tan will be attending Duke University-National University of Singapore medical school in the fall.

“Overall, my experience as a CMS scholar-leader-athlete has been phenomenal yet humbling,” said Tan. “This program has been integral in providing me with the environment, the skillsets and the opportunity to grow as a person.”

Off the court, Tan made a mark in the community by volunteering weekly at a local hospice facility near Claremont and at a similar facility in Singapore during the summer. She served as a mentor with the Asian Pacific American Mentoring program, a CMC organization that provides support for first year and transfer students who identify as Asian Pacific Islander Desi American.  She and the women’s tennis team also volunteered at nearby Mountain View Elementary School conducting physical education classes.

“When I had to return to Singapore pre-maturely due to COVID-19, my first instinct was to sign up, get trained and volunteer to be in the frontline as a support staff in charge of test swab for the coronavirus,” Tan said. “I am forever grateful for what sports has done for me. My journey has prepared me well as I take on the challenges of Duke-NUS medical school. I'm confident that my next phase of training will allow me to further impact the world through medicine and research."

Tan was one of two student-athletes from Claremont McKenna among the 605 NCAA Woman of the Year nominees. Senior volleyball player Phoebe Madsen was also on the elite list, after graduating with a 3.91 GPA in an accelerated economics-finance program and winning a national title with the Athenas as a sophomore in 2017. CMS was the only SCIAC athletic department to earn more than one nomination.

-Jeremy Kniffin