News release from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, July 6, 2022
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is pleased to announce that Anna Tifrea from the California Institute of Technology is the inaugural winner of the 2022 ITA Sally Ride STEM Award Winner as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy.
“College tennis continues to develop championship human beings on and off the court,” said Dr. Timothy Russell, the Chief Executive Officer of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. “The ITA has one of the most robust awards programs in all of college athletics, and we are delighted that Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy chose to honor the iconic American hero Sally Ride with a new ITA STEM Award. We are equally honored to announce Anna Tifrea as the inaugural winner of this prestigious award. Anna stands as a testament to the value that college tennis players bring to their campuses and communities and will bring to our American society and to the world.”
(O’Shaughnessy, who was Ride’s life partner, is cofounder and executive director of Sally Ride Science.)
A four-year player and two-year captain of the California Institute of Technology Women’s Tennis team, Tifrea will be honored with a postgraduate scholarship of $8,000 and special recognition at the ITA Awards Weekend. Additionally, a $2,000 donation will be made to the CalTech Women’s team in her honor.
“As an aspiring physician-scientist and current female student-athlete in STEM, Sally Ride has truly been an inspiration to me and I’m honored to have been selected for this award in her name,” stated Tifrea. “Both tennis and STEM have been fundamental in shaping my dreams and who I am today.”
Tifrea’s father is a physics professor and her mother is a medical researcher. Surrounded by science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) influences from a young age, she learned the wonders of, and opportunities that lie in, STEM.
Coinciding with Tifrea’s love of STEM was her love of tennis, which quickly became another defining aspect of her life. Progressing through junior tennis tournaments while also competing in math competitions during her middle school and high school years, Tifrea knew that once college came around she wanted to land at a place where both of her passions could flourish.
Choosing to enroll at CalTech, Tifrea soon made an impact both on the courts and in the classroom. She led the Beavers, as a captain of the tennis team, while simultaneously majoring in physics and embarking on several STEM research studies.
“Anna is a very fitting first-ever winner of the Sally Ride STEM Award,” stated CalTech Men’s Tennis Coach Jason Cohen. “Caltech has a number of student-athletes who achieve amazing success both on and off the court, and Anna especially stood out among her peers at one of the most demanding schools in the world. We will certainly miss Anna, but we are excited for what she will do next!”
Tifrea graduated this year with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and now plans to continue her academic studies at the University of California San Diego as she pursues a joint MD/PhD degree in medicine and biophysics.
“I’m grateful that this award recognizes both crucial aspects of my life and the tennis program that helped me continue my love for tennis in a collegiate career,” noted Tifrea. “I’m ecstatic to continue my career in the Medical Scientist Training Program at UCSD, and this award has inspired me to continue balancing tennis and science in my future!”
Tifrea’s selection marks the first recipient of the prestigious ITA Sally Ride STEM Award, which is sure to inspire the nation’s most motivated female student-athletes in STEM for years to come.
“I am beyond thrilled that Anna Tifrea is the Winner of the inaugural ITA Sally Ride STEM Award,” said O’Shaughnessy. “Anna exemplifies what this award is all about—a female student-athlete who has passion and purpose in pursuit of her goals. Sally would love that Anna, who loves tennis and physics just like she did, will receive this award and will be supported in her dreams.”
The ITA Sally Ride STEM Award as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy was created to honor a female student-athlete who demonstrates zeal, dedication, and perseverance towards her tennis training and competition, STEM studies, and long-term goals. The recipient of the award will receive a grant in the amount of eight thousand dollars ($8,000) to pursue her dreams. The award money given to the student-athlete may be used in any way she wishes [e.g., tuition, books, rent, etc.] Additionally, two-thousand dollars ($2,000) will be donated to the women’s tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.