McKenzie Ferrari may receive $8,000 grant, while UMass Dartmouth tennis program would get $2,000
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association is pleased to announce the four finalists of the 2023 ITA Sally Ride STEM Award as endowed by Tam O’Shaughnessy. This year’s finalists include Tewksbury’s McKenzie Ferrari (UMass Dartmouth) as well as Anjali Devireddy (Johns Hopkins), Hannah Johnston (WashU) and Sarah Persemlidis (MIT).
Ferrari, who grew up in Tewksbury, has always had an interest in science, though tennis is truly what sparked her interest in the study of physics. Tennis was the perfect demonstration of how a better understanding of physics improves a player’s game; it is vital for adjusting to various court surfaces and to understanding the spin of an opponent’s return.
At UMass Dartmouth, McKenzie chose to study physics to further understand the fundamental laws and theories governing not just the tennis court but also the universe. In addition to studying physics, Mckenzie also spent time conducting research in astrophysics. McKenzie’s research experience lies in the fields of stellar and transient astrophysics, illuminating the properties of the celestial objects we use as cosmic distance indicators.
Additionally, McKenzie is active in organizing outreach activities within her university through STEM events, such as a hovercraft design project with a local high school and the annual STEM4Girls program. McKenzie will now pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, studying the physics of galaxies and their interactions with one another, while preparing for a career in academia and science communication.
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.
“I’m beyond thrilled by the quality, character, and interests of the four finalists for the 2023 ITA Sally Ride STEM Award.” said Tam O’Shaughnessy. “Sally would absolutely love that one of these exceptional scholar-athletes, who loves tennis and science just as she did, will be supported in her dreams.”
Created in 2022, the inaugural winner of the ITA Sally Ride STEM Award was Anna Tifrea from the California Institute of Technology. Tifrea continues her academic studies at the University of California, San Diego as she pursues a joint MD/PhD degree in medicine and biophysics.
“College tennis develops championship human beings on and off the court,” said ITA CEO Dr. Timothy Russell. “Our Association serves and advances our sport in the world of higher education, and returns the leaders of tomorrow. The ITA awards program is one of the most robust in college athletics and our endowed named awards honor the ‘best of the best.’ I am incredibly grateful to Tam O’Shaughnessy for her leadership and celebration of the spirit of Sally Ride and share Tam’s enthusiasm for an amazing group of finalists for this year’s Award.”
The recipient of the award will receive a grant in the amount of $8,000 to pursue her dreams. The award money given to the student-athlete may be used in any way she wishes — tuition, books, rent.
In addition, the ITA will also donate $2,000 to the women’s tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.