The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is pleased to announce St. Lawrence University’s Nathan Turtledove as the winner of the 2023 ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award as endowed by Billie Jean King. 

“The ITA, with one of the most robust awards programs in all of college athletics, serves college tennis and returns the next generation of leaders, championship human beings on and off the court” said ITA CEO, Timothy Russell. “Nathan embodies everything that this prestigious award epitomizes, an outstanding tennis player who represents our sport in so many positive ways, following in the footsteps and spirit of legendary leaders Ann Lebedeff and Billie Jean King.”

Turtledove will be honored with a postgraduate scholarship and special recognition at the ITA Awards Weekend in New York later this year. Additionally, the St. Lawrence men’s tennis team will be awarded a $1,000 donation from the ITA in his honor. 

“I am very excited and proud of Nathan for being the recipient of the Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award,” proclaimed St. Lawrence Head Coach Neil Caniga. “Nathan’s engagement with St. Lawrence and the community has been amazing over his four years and he has done a great job representing our tennis program and University. He is a fantastic leader and teammate who has set a strong example for his peers. I look forward to seeing what Nathan will accomplish in his next steps post St. Lawrence.”

Tennis has always been at the forefront of Turtledove’s life ever since he began playing at the age of ten. Jumping into the sport headfirst, tennis has allowed Turtledove to fulfill his personal mission statement of paying it forward.

Before college, at the Kansas City United Tennis (KCUT), Turtledove began a racquet-stringing business at 13, assisted running local tournaments at the age of 14, and even became one of the youngest USTA certified officials at 15. He has been named the USTA Heart of America Volunteer of the Year (2018), the USTA Heart of America Official of the Year (2019), and the Missouri Valley Boy’s U18 Sportsmanship Award winner all before heading off to college. 

Bringing his pay it forward attitude to St. Lawrence in the fall of 2019, Turtledove continued to be an active member of his community, where he would immediately join several clubs and organizations across campus while triple majoring in Business in the Liberal Arts, Government, and Economics. One of these organizations included the St. Lawrence Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) where he would go on to take an executive position within a year of starting college. 

Elected as SAAC President his sophomore year, Turtledove fostered legislation that provided remote access to mental health resources and allowed in-person athletes to continue training with their coaches and team that was subsequently adopted by the NCAA during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Turtledove’s mentality has also rubbed off on the St. Lawrence men’s tennis team. As a team captain and the number one singles and doubles player, Turtledove has helped realign the St. Lawrence culture, leaving an environment of positivity, love, and acceptance. 

Throughout his time at St. Lawrence, Turtledove has been able to build on his personal mission of paying it forward and growing as a leader in tennis and beyond. He was an Admissions Senior Fellow, Vilas Scholar, music columnist for The Hill News, and last year, he interned with The Kraft Group’s philanthropic Foundation to Combat Anti-Semitism. Even though his time in Canton, NY is now over, his impact on the men’s tennis team, the entire athletics department, and the college campus as a whole will be felt for many years to come. 

“I am humbled, grateful, and honored to receive the 2023 ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award,” noted Turtledove. “As a collegiate student-athlete, tennis has not only enriched my life, but also taught me valuable life lessons in leadership, personal growth, teamwork, and resilience. Representing St. Lawrence University on and off the court, in the classroom, Admissions, SAAC, and in my daily life has been the privilege of a lifetime. I believe in the power of paying it forward, as others have so graciously done for me, and I hope that my journey inspires others to embrace the same spirit of generosity and community. Together, we can create a lasting legacy that goes beyond this great sport and uplifts everyone around us.”

The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award as endowed by Billie Jean King 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 leadership.

Turtledove is the sixth recipient of the award. He joins Caroline Vincent of Army (2022), Victoria Flores of Georgia Tech (2021), Daniel Park of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (2020), Andrew Akins of Duquesne (2019), and Nithya Kanagasegar of Case Western Reserve (2018) as winners of the award.

About the ITA – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body and coaches association of college tennis, both an advocate and an authority for the sport and its members. Comprised of 1,260 colleges and universities, 20,000 student-athletes, 1,700 varsity programs, 3,000 coaches, and 1,350 college tennis officials, the ITA empowers college tennis coaches at all levels to deliver vibrant tennis programs that are vital to their college communities and transformational to their student-athletes. Follow the Spring 2023 college tennis season on the ITA website and ITA social channels on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

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