Cade Pierson of the Westmont women’s tennis team has been named the recipient of a prestigious national honor from the Intercolllegiate Tennis Association.

Cade Pierson

Cade Pierson is the first Westmont women’s tennis player to receive the ITA Arthur Ashe Award.

Pierson is the NAIA winner of the ITA’s Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award.

The award is named after the legendary tennis player who was known not only for his success in tennis but also for his humanitarian efforts off the court.

Pierson is the first Westmont player to receive the Arthur Ashe national honor. She was this year’s West Region winner, joining Emily Keach who was the 2013 regional award recipient.

Pierson joins Kathy LeSage as the only Warriors to earn ITA national awards. LeSage was named ITA NAIA Senior Player of the Year in 1984.

Pierson previously was presented the Golden State Athletic Conference’s Cliff Hamlow Champion of Character Award, becoming first Westmont women’s tennis player to receive the honor in the six years the award has been given.

“Cade lives with deep integrity,” Westmont head coach Ellie Johnson said. “She is fair and encouraging, while fierce and strong when competing. Her leadership has developed in each of her years at Westmont.”

Pierson was in the midst of completing her final year at Westmont when the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. She plans to return next season as the NAIA granted spring sports athletes another year of eligibilty.

The Santa Barbara High alum was 8-2 in singles, including two wins over NCAA Division 1 opponents. She was ranked fifth nationally and second in the West Region in the final NAIA rankings. In doubles, she and partner Emily Peterson were ranked 11th in the nation.

“She leads by example as well as by being intentional with the words she uses and how she communicates,” Johnson said. “She does not demand leadership, but rather earns it by the way she handles herself with confidence and poise.”

Said sophomore teammate Rachal Jackson: “She’s such a fun, caring and hardworking person. I learned how important it is to work hard and have good sportsmanship at the same time. Cade always encouraged us to try our best while being the best person we can be.”

Pierson, the lone senior on this year’s squad, served as team captain. The Warriors were ranked 18th in the NAIA when the season was canceled.

“She prepared so well for being a captain of this year’s team without even realizing the position she was going to be in,” Johnson said. “She prepared by making daily decisions to better herself and how to best lead the team.

“The legacy of Cade is hard to put into words because it is that big of an impact,” Johnson added. “She has had an incredible amount of success on the court, but what stands out even more and the legacy that will continue is her leadership and devotion to grow as a person. She embodies the mission of Westmont Athletics.”

The virtual ITA National Awards Ceremony can be seen here.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.