When it comes to winning, March’s top vote-getters for the United States Sports Academy Athlete of the Month honor are no strangers to it. Displaying prowess on the slopes and tennis courts for years, respectively, Lindsey Vonn and Novak Djokovic succeeded again, this time gaining favor with those making selections on the online public ballot.
Djokovic, the tennis star who has won the Academy’s Athlete of the Year honor twice (2014 and 2011), beat out Americans Jordan Spieth, a golfer, and Russell Westbrook, an NBA star, in the men’s division, thanks in large part to a straight-set victory March 22 against rival Roger Federer in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif.. The victory tied him with Federer for most titles in the desert as they both can claim four. For Djokovic, it was his second in a row at the event and his second of 2015, having already captured the Australian Open the previous month.
Ranked No. 1 in the world, Djokovic pulled closer in his head-to-head series with Federer, who still leads 20-18.
Spieth, a 21-year-old from Dallas, Texas, finished second in the voting after winning the Vaspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Fla., topping Patrick Reed and Sean O’Hair in a three-way playoff on March 22. That marked his second PGA Tour victory. Westbrook, meanwhile, came in third after continuing to be a triple-double revelation for the Oklahoma City Thunder, posting four in March while averaging 30.9 points, 10.2 assists and 8.5 rebounds in 14 games throughout the month.
On the women’s side, Vonn, the record-setting American skier, grabbed her 23rd women’s World Cup super-G event March at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, and then her seventh world cup downhill title March 18 in Meribel, France. The next day, she won another super-G event to extend her women’s world cup-record total to 67. Vonn, who previously won the Academy’s monthly honor in January, also tied three records: 19 seasons titles across all disciplines and the overall, set by Swedish male skier Ingemar Stenmark; seven globes in one women’s discipline, set by Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell, and 113th trips to a world cup podium, also set by Moser-Proell.
Romanian tennis standout Simona Halep was runner-up to Vonn in the voting and Japanese table tennis player Mima Ito came in third. Halep earned the BNP Paribas Open title at Indian Wells, Calif., the hard way, rebounding from an opening-set loss to defeat Jelena Jankovic in three sets on March 22 to give her a third WTA tournament victory on the year. Ito, 14, became the youngest-ever women’s singles champion by capturing the German Open in Bremen in a dramatic six-set final March 22.
The public is invited to participate in the worldwide Athlete of the Month nomination and ballot voting processes. Visit the Academy website at www.ussa.edu to submit your nominations each month, and then return to the website during the first two weeks of each month to vote for the male and female Athletes of the Month. The votes along with an Academy committee choose the winners who become candidates for the Athlete of the Year. The monthly and yearly winners are announced on the Academy’s website and in the sports university’s online edition of The Sport Update.
The United States Sports Academy is an independent, non-profit, accredited, special mission Sports University created to serve the nation and world with programs in instruction, research, and service. The role of the Academy is to prepare men and women for careers in the profession of sports. For more information about the Academy, call 251-626-3303 or visit www.ussa.edu.