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Palm Harbor University boys and girls tennis coach Irene Tharin has been selected as one of 18 finalists for the United States Tennis Association's national Starfish Award, which honors outstanding high school coaches who implement a no-cut policy for their teams.
Tharin was picked from a pool of 3,300 coaches from across the country. The USTA will recognize two winners at the 40th annual USTA Tennis Teachers Conference on August 30 in New York City. The Starfish Award is in its sixth year of existence and has honored ten winners since 2005.
"I was pretty shocked," Tharin said. "We all just go about our jobs and don't think about awards or anything like that. But, it's very nice to be recognized."
Tharin has been the tennis coach at PHU for ten seasons, and during her tenure, the Hurricanes have never lost more than three matches in one year. In addition, Tharin has spent 21 years as a tennis instructor for various programs like USTA Junior Team Tennis, the National Junior Tennis League and QuickStart Tennis. She also helped spearhead an after school program at PHU that offers tennis instruction to students from surrounding schools.
Coaches who implement a no-cut policy allow any student interested in the game of tennis to join the school's tennis team. Tharin's PHU boys and girls squads fielded a roster of 30 players this season.