TEMPE, Ariz. (August 23) – Duquesne University’s Andrew “Drew” Akins, who earlier this spring was named the recipient of the 2019 Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Endowed by Billie Jean King, will be honored this week in New York as part of the ITA Leadership Weekend.
Akins will be recognized along with 2019 ITA Division I National Male Player of the Year (Nuno Borges, Mississippi State University) and Female Player of the Year (Katarina Jokic, University of Georgia) and 10 ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winners.
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 annual 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.
“I am extremely blessed and honored to receive this award and to be a representative of Duquesne University Athletics as well as college tennis. I have always felt that success in college athletics can be attributed to strong leadership,” Akins said. “I consistently have found myself in leadership roles, whether by volunteering or through nomination, and I have always strived to be the best leader possible.
“Over the years, however, I have realized that being a leader is not always about being the best or brightest, the fastest or strongest, or even the face at the front of the crowd” Akins added. “To be a leader is to give everything you have, your time, energy, focus, and commitment to those who you lead.”
A team and community leader, Akins served as the Duquesne men’s tennis team’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative and assumed leadership roles both on campus and with the Atlantic 10 Conference SAAC. He took a particular interest in the “It’s On Us” campaign, a national movement launched in 2014 to end sexual assault. Akins also served mental health and homeless service organizations.
“As evidenced by statements from Duquesne’s college president, his business professor, and teammate, Drew exemplifies all the characteristics of a ‘servant leader.’.” Lebedeff said. “Drew’s coach Vanessa Steiner describes Drew ‘as one of the most passionate, humble, and hardworking student-athletes at Duquesne.’ I congratulate Drew on winning this award and wish him the best of luck in all his future endeavors.”
Akins, who completed his academic career with a 3.91 grade-point average, earned a finance degree from Duquesne University in May. He played at No. 2 singles and doubles for the majority of the 2019 season and earned Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic honors.
Akins becomes the second recipient of the ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, joining Case Western Reserve University’s Nithya Kanagasegar, who was the inaugural winner in 2018.
The ITA Leadership Weekend serves as a prelude to the start of the 2019 US Open main draw that begins Monday, August 26, at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium.
Highlights of the weekend include participation in the Arthur Ashe Kids Day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and an awards banquet inside the Empire State Building on Saturday before concluding with a community service event at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis in the Bronx on Sunday.
The ITA will return to New York on September 7 when it presents internationally renowned business executive Doug Conant with the 2019 ITA David A Benjamin Achievement Award.
About the Intercollegiate Tennis Association
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.