The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced the Division I Men National Award recipients on Monday morning during the 2020 ITA National Awards Ceremony presented by Oracle. The recipients are outstanding representatives of college tennis’s strong athletic tradition and commitment to excellence on and off the court. The ITA is proud to continue our tradition of honoring and illuminating the success of our student-athletes!
The Division I Men’s awards include Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship, ITA Rookie of the Year, ITA Player to Watch, ITA Most Improved Senior, ITA Senior Player of the Year, and ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award. The national winners were selected from the regional award winners by the Division I National Awards Committee.
Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award
Paul Jubb, University of South Carolina
Paul Jubb cemented himself at the top of DI tennis last May when he won the NCAA Singles Championship. Jubb reached the pinnacle of college tennis with a lot of hard work. As a freshman, Jubb was outside the starting lineup but committed himself to improve every day. Clearly, the hard work paid off. Jubb has a 127-50 combined career record for the Gamecocks. He holds the South Carolina record for career SEC singles match wins and wins over ranked opponents. He was on the 2019 ITA All-Star Team and the 2018 ITA Carolina Regionals Champion along with the 2018 ITA Carolina Regional Player to Watch. Jubb has shined off the court as well. He was awarded the prestigious 2019 Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award and honored as part of the 2019 SEC Community Service Team. Jubb looks forward to using tennis to help less fortunate kids in England achieve their own dreams and goals.
ITA Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award
Vilhelm Fridell, University at Buffalo
Over the years senior Vilhelm Fridell has led the Bulls to success on the court. He was consistently a top singles player for the men’s program. In 2019, he clinched the Bulls’ win over Harvard while playing at No. 1 singles. During the 2017 MAC Championship, he anchored the team and led them to an undefeated record in conference play. However, his sportsmanship in and out of tennis has transformed the University at Buffalo men’s tennis team. He consistently lifts his teammates and coaches up. Fridell competes with class no matter how the match is going. He supports those outside of his team and is loved by professors and students alike.
ITA Player to Watch Award
Sam Riffice, University of Florida
Gator standout Sam Riffice has already achieved so much in his two years at Florida. He holds a 42-15 career singles record and a 34-9 career doubles record. Riffice was ranked No. 5 in the last Oracle ITA Singles Rankings and No. 19 in the Oracle ITA Doubles Rankings. The sophomore was named an ITA singles and doubles All-American in 2020 in addition to his ITA singles All-American award his freshman year. Riffice was named 2019 SEC Freshman of the Year and to the 2019 SEC All-Freshman Team. He made it to the finals of the 2019 ITA All-American Championships where he fell in a tight match to Longhorn senior star Yuya Ito.
ITA Rookie of the Year Award
Cannon Kingsley, Ohio State University
Cannon Kingsley made an immediate impact on tennis powerhouse Ohio State. He was named an ITA singles All-American and finished No. 14 in the last Oracle ITA Singles Rankings. Kingsley spent the entire dual match season ranked in the top-25 of the Oracle ITA Singles Rankings. In his debut collegiate tennis tournament, he won the consolation bracket for singles at the ITA All-American Championships. Next at the Oracle ITA National Fall Championships, he made it to the round of 16 before falling to eventual No. 1 ranked Daniel Cukierman in a tight three-set battle. He owned a team-best 19-3 singles and 10-1 doubles record. He has nine ranked wins on the season – two of which were over top-10 players.
ITA Most Improved Senior Award
Athell Bennett, Purdue University
Athell Bennett has emerged as a leader for the Purdue men’s tennis team on and off the court. As a freshman, Bennett played at No. 5 or No. 6 singles for the Boilermakers and had an 11.9 UTR. As a senior, he has risen to the No. 1 singles slot and a UTR of 13.63. Bennett rose to as high as No. 20 in the Oracle ITA Singles Rankings – which is the second-highest ranking in Purdue program history. He ranks second in Purdue career dual match singles wins. He owned a 16-6 singles and 9-2 doubles dual match record in 2020. During the dual match season, he downed two top-5 singles opponents. In addition to his massive growth on the court, Bennett has emerged as a leader on the Purdue campus. He serves as a SAAC representative and has won multiple leadership awards including the 2019 Durham Brothers Leadership Award and 2019 Team MVP.
ITA Senior Player of the Year Award
William Blumberg, University of North Carolina
Will Blumberg has cemented himself in college tennis and UNC history. In 2020, Blumberg became one of only three collegiate men’s tennis players in history to be named an eight-time ITA All-American. Blumberg has an 80-15 singles and 73-21 doubles career record. He finished as No. 9 in the last Oracle ITA Singles Rankings and No. 13 in the last Oracle ITA Doubles Rankings. He had a perfect start to his senior season with a 10-0 record. He was named to the 2020 ITA National Team Indoor All-Tournament Team at No. 1 singles. Blumberg was honored by the Tar Heels as the Mildred McCaskill Award and Most Outstanding Male Athlete Award recipient – the two highest honors at UNC. As a two-time captain, he has led the Tar Heels with compassion and humility. During his time at UNC, he has led the team to an 89-17 team record, the 2017 NCAA finals, 2 NCAA Semifinals, and 2020 ITA National Team Indoor Finals.
See also: ITA National Awards: Division I Women