TEMPE, AZ – The ITA is proud to announce that John Shackelford, former Director of Tennis and current Director of Athletics at Sewanee: The University of the South, has been selected as the recipient of the 2023 ITA Meritorious Service Award presented by ConantLeadership.

The ITA Meritorious Service Award is given annually in recognition of an ITA coach who has made major contributions and shown commitment to the ITA and college tennis. Courtesy of ConantLeadership, Shackelford will be attending the 2023 ITA Leadership Weekend in New York City, where he will be recognized alongside the other ITA Award winners prior to the 2023 US Open Championships. 

“As both the governing body and coaches association for college tennis, the ITA Meritorious Service Award is one of our most important awards,” said ITA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Timothy Russell. “John Shackelford exemplifies the long-standing combination of commitment to leadership and mentorship both on and off the court with service to our sport, including as the tournament director for ITA National Team Indoor Championships, which are a critical part of our competitive structure.”

With 16 NCAA Division III tournament appearances, 12 conference championships, and four ITA top-10 rankings, Shackelford has taken the Sewanee Men’s Tennis team to new heights. In 2016, the Tigers won their fourth straight SAA regular season, and tournament titles, and in 2017, Sewanee finished 22-4, advancing to their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  

Compiling a career record of 529-276 and claiming the title as the most successful men’s coach in Sewanee history, Shakelford has coached 17 All-Americans and 96 All-Conference players in his 32-year career.

“I played in my first ITA event on the campus of Wake Forest in the fall of 1982 and was hosting a regional just two years later while coaching at UNC-Asheville. In those early years of playing and coaching, your focus is on being successful and achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself and your team. As those decades unfold in our lives, there’s a natural shift in our focus from success to service. I’ve treasured the hundreds of relationships my wife, Conchie, and I have built with our fellow coaches, the players I’ve been honored to work with, and the many programs who we’ve competed against. In the end, the pleasure has all been mine, and this generous honor recognizes the efforts of the numerous friends I’ve served with. Thank you to the ITA, the various committees that support their work, and most importantly to the student-athletes whose competitive and educational experiences are the reason for our work.” 

Shackelford was named the 2017 ITA Atlantic South Coach of the Year, two-time Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Tennis Coach of the Year award winner, and Southern Athletic Association Coach of the Year winner. 

Shackelford also serves the university as the Special Assistant to Vice-Chancellor, the Chairman of the Cornerstone Initiative, and was the Chairman of the ReThink Task Force in 2013 that examined and reported on student life issues outside of the classroom.

Previous winners of the Meritorious Service Award are Dave Fish (2014), Ann Lebedeff (2015), Sheila McInerney (2016), Peter Wright (2017), Bill Richards (2018), Chris Davis (2019), Bev Buckley (2020), and Chase Hodges (2021).

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 2023-24 college tennis season on the ITA website and ITA social channels on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

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