2019 ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Finalists Announced


TEMPE, AZ – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association is pleased to announce that Andrew Akins (Duquesne), Caroline Casper (Pomona Pitzer), Sarah Hall (Delaware), and Madison Watts (Webster) are the four finalists for the 2019 ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, endowed by Billie Jean King.

The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award was created to honor a recent college graduate who played college tennis and demonstrated excellence on and off the court, leadership on his or her team as well as on his or her college campus and in his or her community. The recipient of the award will have demonstrated grit (i.e. passion and perseverance towards long-term goals), a commitment to social justice and equality and will have pushed others to be leaders in addition to demonstrating his or her own leadership.

The finalist’s materials (i.e., personal statement, resume, letters from their coach, teammate and institution’s President) will be submitted to the ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Selection Panel. The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award winner will be honored by the ITA at a special awards ceremony in August during the ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Awards Weekend in New York, in addition to receiving a specially-engraved gift and post-graduate scholarship. The ITA will also donate $1,000 to the tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.

“I am excited to announce the four finalists for this year’s ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award as they all have extremely impressive accolades and envelop what the award stands for,” said ITA CEO Timothy Russell. “The selection panel has a difficult decision to make, and we look forward to announcing the winner in early June. We would like to once again thank Billie Jean King, a longtime friend and supporter of college tennis, for endowing this award and honoring the legacy of Ann Lebedeff, one of our sport’s greatest coaches and educators.”

Each finalist submitted a personal statement as part of the application process, which described the role that tennis and higher education played in their life, the lessons learned, examples of community service and a description of their plans upon graduation, describing hopes and dreams to be pursued.

Below are highlighted items from the finalists.

Andrew Akins (Duquesne University, Division I)

  1. Member and a leader within the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the past four years.
  2. Highly involved in the “It’s on Us” campaign on campus, as well as mental health awareness initiatives.
  3. Has assisted with multiple service opportunities to host clothing drives and feed the homeless.

Caroline Casper (Pomona College, Division III)

  1. Coordinated and organized team’s activities with the local Special Olympics team.
  2. Volunteers at the National Girls and Women in Sports Day event, which supports participation of girls from different socioeconomic backgrounds in sports.
  3. Spent six weeks in the Dominican Republic, where people did not have access to health care and set-up a makeshift dental and medical clinic, while recording patient histories and vital signs.

Sarah Hall (University of Delaware, Division I)

  1. Serves on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and is on the Senior Leadership Executive Board while also serving as an Experience Chair.
  2. Volunteers at the A.I. DuPont Children’s Hospital, Special Olympics events and participates with The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation for families affected by childhood cancer.
  3. Participates as a member of the Delaware Christian Athletes and Blue Hens Mentoring program. 

Madison Watts (Webster University, Division III)

  1. Joined the UN registered NGO Webster Humanitarian Association and worked with local refugees to help acclimate life in Switzerland while promoting human rights and social justice in the Geneva community.
  2. Founder and captain of the chapter organization of “Love Your Melon” (to raise funding and awareness for pediatric cancer).
  3. Member of the Children’s Miracle Network of St. Louis Hospitals young professionals board.

About the ITA The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is committed to serving college tennis and returning the leaders of tomorrow. As the governing body of college tennis, the ITA oversees men’s and women’s varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College divisions. The ITA administers a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITA_Tennis on Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, please contact Rachel Dagen, ITA Director of Special Projects, [email protected]

- Advertisement -
College Tennis Alumni Network


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here