TEMPE, AZ – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is delighted to announce today the ten student-athletes who will make up the inaugural class of the ITA Student-Athlete Council.
The ITA Student-Athlete Council is a committee of student-athletes who play college tennis assembled to provide insights regarding the sport with a special emphasis on the student-athlete experience. The goals of this committee are as follows: Present a student-athlete voice within the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) (1), Offer input regarding matters pertaining to the sport, particularly issues impacting the lives of student-athletes (2), Work to enhance the student-athlete experience specific to college tennis across all divisions (3), Invest in the leaders of tomorrow by creating leadership and professional development opportunities (4).
“The ITA stands at the forefront of collegiate athletics coaching associations, upholding a legacy of excellence,” stated ITA COO, David Mullins. “As college athletics undergoes a dynamic transformation, our commitment to staying ahead necessitates a continuous engagement with a diverse array of stakeholders. Introducing the ITA Student-Athlete Council, we take a significant stride towards addressing the core concerns that resonate with our current student-athletes, who are poised to shape the future of our industry and lead in various spheres in the years to come.”
In total, ten student-athletes were chosen to represent college tennis players from across all levels of our sport. This inaugural class includes three student-athletes from the Division I level, two student-athletes from the Division II and Division III levels, as well as one student-athlete from the NAIA, JUCO, and wheelchair sectors of our sport.
Each of these ten student-athletes elected will bring a unique perspective of our sport to the Student-Athlete Council and are sure to advocate for each and every one of the over 19,000 student-athletes who take part in college tennis each year.
As an ITA Board Member, Clarisse Baca, as coach of the Academy of the Arts, helped to launch this exciting new endeavor. She commented, “ Returning the leaders of tomorrow is one of the missions of the ITA. With the ITA Student-Athlete Council, students across the country from different divisions and conferences, will have the opportunity to contribute to the enhancement of college tennis on and off the court. College athletics is changing by the minute and now more than ever we need their involvement and creative ideas to make sure that our sport continues to flourish!”
Read below for more information on each council member:
Ryan Fishback | Virginia Tech | Senior
As the 2023 ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Sportsmanship Award winner, as well as two time NCAA Elite 90 Award winner, Virginia Tech’s Ryan Fishback, brings an impressive list of accolades both on and off the court to the Student-Athlete Council. Having spent the past three seasons as a college tennis player and growing up as the son of a college tennis coach, Fishback aims to leave the sport “better than he found it” before he takes the next step in his career. During his time on the council, Fishback hopes to provide more emphasis on preparing student-athletes for life after college, and the numerous opportunities that await our student-athletes outside of the professional tour.
“I am very excited and humbled to represent my fellow college tennis players on the inaugural ITA Student-Athlete Council. College tennis is in a great place, and I hope that we can continue to advance the sport and look out for the best interests of all student-athletes.” – Ryan Fishback
Saige Roshkoff | University of Pennsylvania | Junior
Competing in the Ivy League, Saige Roshkoff has not only competed at the highest level of competition at the Division I level, but has also used surroundings to gain valuable experience in the realm of leadership and the needs of student-athletes. Serving in leadership positions in both the Penn Women’s Athletic Association and the Penn Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Roshkoff has gained many different perspectives from student-athletes across all sports. Roshkoff hopes to enhance the lives of college tennis student-athletes everywhere, providing them with more professional development opportunities, improving mental health resources, and offering more philanthropic opportunities to connect players with their communities.
“I am proud to serve on the ITA Student-Athlete Council to positively enhance the student-athlete experience.” – Saige Roshkoff
Luke Swan | TCU | Junior
Originally from the United Kingdom, TCU’s Luke Swan has seen first hand the impact collegiate athletics have on student-athletes and all of the joy being a college tennis player brings. Playing for the back-to-back ITA National Team Indoor Champions, TCU, Swan has experienced many ups and downs within our sport and hopes to utilize these experiences to support student athletes everywhere. Swan hopes to continue to give a voice to the student-athletes within our sport and strives to maintain the first class experience he has received for generations to come.
“I am excited to help push all collegiate tennis players to be the best version of themselves outside of the lines. It is going to be an incredibly rewarding year for all.” – Luke Swan
Abigail Wild | Hawaii Pacific University | Junior
For Hawaii Pacific’s Abigail Wild, her journey to college tennis was not the traditional route. After quitting the sport from age 14-17, Wild decided to leave her home country in England to play at Tyler Junior College where she spent two seasons before transferring to Hawaii Pacific. During her time on the council, Wild hopes to; “Speak up for the opinions and concerns of student-athletes, advocate for the welfare of student-athletes, and encourage student-athletes to participate in community engagement and outreach programmes”. Wild hopes by serving on the ITA Student-Athlete Council that she can provide other student-athletes with the opportunities that college tennis has provided her.
“I am looking forward to being a part of the ITA Student- Athlete Council as it presents an exciting and rewarding journey where I can use my passion for tennis and leadership skills to make a difference in the lives of student-athletes.” – Abigail Wild
Lucas Henke | West Chester University | Junior
As a rising junior at West Chester University, Lucas Henke is looking forward to making an impact on college tennis not only at the Division II level but across all levels of play. Working alongside fellow student-athletes on the West Chester Student Athlete Advisory Council, Henke has seen firsthand the impact student athletes can make and hopes make a similar impact in this position. While serving on the ITA Student-Athlete Council, Henke will hope to advocate for topics such as mental health, professional development, and equal opportunities for student-athletes across all divisions.
“I am looking forward to serving on the ITA Student-Athlete Council to help create a platform that assists collegiate tennis players nationwide. Universalizing niche and hidden resources to our communities to improve upon issues from mental health to meaningful career development.” – Lucas Henke
Grace Fuss | Hamilton College | Senior
For Hamilton’s Grace Fuss, the ITA Student-Athlete Council represents an opportunity to leave her mark on the continued growth and development of college tennis. Having played tennis since the age of ten, Fuss brings great knowledge of our sport to the council and will utilize the experiences she’s been through to advocate for players everywhere. Fuss hopes to bring to light topics such as mental health, diversity, tennis’ campus visibility, and the challenges of balancing academics, athletics, and social lives during her time on the council.
“I am excited to represent and advocate for current and future college tennis players on and off the court.” – Grace Fuss
Marielle Sauber | Smith College | Sophomore
Coming from a gender-diverse historically women’s college in Smith College, Marielle Sauber hopes to advocate for further inclusion of all players across college tennis. As the representative of tennis on the Smith College Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Sauber has already spent time building welcoming communities on the campus of Smith College and hopes to do the same across college tennis in this role. Sauber’s goals for this position are to ensure that the ITA is advocating for every college tennis player, regardless of program size or personal ranking.
“As a member of the ITA Student-Athlete Council, I look forward to advocating for diversity, inclusion, and representation within the ITA. I hope to make LGBTQ+ and gender nonconforming athletes, athletes from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and athletes from all divisions feel welcomed and supported in the college tennis world.” – Marielle Sauber
Jenna Mahoney | Bethel College | Junior
Jenna Mahoney is a current student-athlete at Bethel College where she serves as an integral member of the women’s tennis team as well as the Student Athlete Leadership Team (S.A.L.T) on campus. Entering this new role, Mahoney hopes to formulate discussion around providing more coverage of smaller institutions and their athletes, bridge the knowledge gap between the differences from Division I and small institutions, and finally build relationships between players from all levels. Mahoney hopes the lessons she has learned during her time as a student-athlete can make an impact on student-athletes within our sport across the country.
“I am greatly looking forward to serving on the 2023-24 ITA Student-Athlete Council to bring more attention to small college tennis. I am also excited to get the opportunity to collaborate with the other athletes of other levels!” – Jenna Mahoney
Mia Ogebee | Santa Monica College | Sophomore
Representing Santa Monica College, Mia Ogebee has spent her whole life playing and giving back to the sport of tennis and believes her experience over the years will make her a perfect representative for the larger student body. Ogebee believes that it is crucial to consistently fight for equity for players, coaches, and the tennis community as a whole so that they can succeed in the same ways in which she envisions herself succeeding. Ogebee hopes to work within the tennis community to hear from all voices within our sport so that we can not only better the student-athlete experience for her generation but for generations to come.
“I look forward to connecting with a variety of schools and creating an active environment for student-athletes and coaches to voice their opinions.” – Mia Ogebee
Gabe Puthoff | Auburn University | Senior
Gabe Puthoff is a current student-athlete at Auburn University and recently competed at the USTA Collegiate Wheelchair Championships in Orlando, Florida where he went up against some of the country’s best collegiate wheelchair players. Born with Spina Bifida, Puthoff grew up playing most abled-bodied sports and has always lived his life without taking handouts. During his time on the council, Puthhoff has set this mission to guide him along the way, “to be able to improve the athletic careers of collegiate wheelchair tennis athletes in two areas, socially (more awareness), and physically (equal facilities and amenities)”. Puthoff hopes to show that while wheelchair athletes get two bounces and abled-bodied athletes get one, that overall vision of improving the day-to-day lives of student-athletes everywhere remains the same.
“I am excited to join the ITA student council for two reasons. to be able to provide a unique perspective as a wheelchair tennis athlete and to bridge the gap between the ITA and the wheelchair tennis community.” – Gabe Puthoff
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.