COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) announced softball player Natasha Watley and track & field star David Oliver as its July Athletes of the Month, while doubles tennis champions and brothers Bob and Mike Bryan were awarded Team of the Month honors.
Watley (Irvine, Calif.) is the second consecutive softball player to win the USOC Athlete of the Month as Alissa Haber took home the honor in June. Watley's strong performance in the 2010 KFC World Cup propelled her to the top spot this month along with some help from her fans. Over the course of the World Cup, Watley hit at a .565 clip with 13 hits and a team-high seven runs scored. Her team-high 13 hits were all singles and she was a perfect 4-for-4 in stolen bases. She was one of four players to start in all seven games as the USA went 6-1 to claim its fourth World Cup title.
Prior to the inclusion of the interactive fan poll on Twitter, Watley sat in second place. However, strong fan support catapulted her to the top of the overall standings as she garnered 29% of the votes for the month on the online poll.
2008 Olympic bronze medalist Oliver (Kissimmee, Fla.) equaled the American record in the men's 110m hurdles on July 3 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic with a time of 12.90. Oliver returned to the track two weeks later to shave .01 seconds off his time and set a new American record of 12.89 at the Samsung IAAF Diamond League Meeting Areva in Paris, France. Oliver's world-leading time is now just .02 seconds off Dayron Robles' (CUB) world record of 12.87, which was set in Ostrava in 2008. Oliver is also the 2010 USA Outdoor champion in the 110m hurdles, the 2010 World Indoor bronze medalist and 2010 USA Indoor runner-up.
Bob and Mike Bryan (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) went undefeated in July en route to breaking the all-time Open era record of 62 team doubles titles by winning the Farmers Classic, an Olympus US Open Series event, in Los Angeles.
The Bryans' quest for the record began on July 28, where the brothers defeated Olympian Mardy Fish and Mark Knowles in straight sets. The Bryans then won two more matches to reach the duo's 100th career final. Bob and Mike defeated Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-7(6), 6-2, [10-7], in the final for their 62nd team title, surpassing Australians Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde for the all-time record of most team doubles titles in the Open era.
Each National Governing Body may nominate up to but no more than one female, one male and one team per discipline. The winners are then voted on from that pool of nominees.
Taking second place in this month's female category was Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo.). Riding for USA Cycling's Women's National Development Program, Abbott became the first-ever American to win the overall Giro Donne in Italy. With her victory in the "Giro," one of the world's top professional women's races, Abbott solidified her position not only as one of the world's top climbers but also one of the world's best all-around female cyclists.
Coming in third place was USA Basketball's Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook, Ill.). Massengale helped the inaugural USA Women's U17 team to a gold medal and a perfect 8-0 record in the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women, July 16-25 in Rodez and Toulouse, France. She started in all eight games and led the USA in minutes played (22.5). Averaging 10.1 points per game, Massengale dished out a tournament-leading 5.4 assists per game. Among all tournament participants in the 12-team field, she ranked second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7) and tied for second in 3-point field goal percentage (.500). She finished as the USA's high scorer with 22 points and six assists against China in the semifinals and 20 points and six assists against France in the gold-medal game. She also helped the USA to a 2-1 record in exhibition play July 9-11 in Alagon, Spain.
Coming in second place in the Male Athlete of the Month voting for the second consecutive month was USA Shooting's Matt Emmons (Grand Rapids, Minn.). Emmons followed up a strong showing in June with an equally impressive display of talent in July. He was the first American athlete to win a quota spot for Team USA for London 2012 and shot a strong final in Men's 50m Rifle Prone at the World Shooting Championships in Munich, Germany to win an individual bronze medal. Moreover, he was part of the Men's Team that also won the team 50m Prone Rifle event for their second consecutive World Championship title. Emmons also made the final in Men's 10m Air Rifle, but fell just shy of medal contention and a quota spot.
Taking third was beach volleyball star Todd Rogers (Santa Barbara, Calif.). Rogers and teammate Phil Dalhausser won two international FIVB grand slam events and two domestic AVP events in July. He was also named the most outstanding player of the FIVB event in Austria. In winning the AVP Long Beach event, the team increased its AVP match win streak to 34-0. Rogers and Dalhausser reached their 500th match win as a team on July 31. That same day, Rogers was named the FIVB Beach Player Representative.
Placing second in the team voting was the USA Basketball Women's U17 World Championship Team . The USA Women rolled undefeated (8-0) through the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship from July 16-25 in Rodez and Toulouse, France. The team downed host France, 92-62, to complete their sweep of the championships and take home gold for the U.S. Four players averaged double figures, and all 12 team members scored in five different games. The USA led the 12-team tournament in 13 of 19 statistical categories, including scoring margin (+37.4), rebounding margin (+24.6), field goal percentage (.497), 3-point percentage (.408), assists per game (18.9) and blocks per game (7.4). In individual statistical categories, five U.S. players combined for 11 top-five finishes. The USA also tallied a 2-1 exhibition record July 9-11 in Alagon, Spain.
Coming in third place was last month's winner, the USA Softball Women's National Team.The team went 6-1 at the KFC World Cup of Softball to take home their fourth title in five years. As a team, they hit .310 while outscoring opponents 33-6. The team had one loss but came back for two more wins, allowing only one run in the last 14 innings. The pitching staff combined for a 1.15 ERA while allowing only six earned runs in 47.0 innings. Team USA defeated 2008 Olympic gold medalists Japan, 5-1, in the championship game for the gold medal.
1. Natasha Watley, Softball
2. Mara Abbott, Cycling
3. Ariel Massengale, Basketball
1. David Oliver, Track & Field
2. Matt Emmons, Shooting
3. Todd Rogers, Beach Volleyball
1. Bob and Mike Bryan, Tennis
2. USA Basketball Women's U17 World Championship Team
3. USA Softball Women's National Team