Duquesne's Drew Akins Named ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Winner
TEMPE, Ariz. - Duquesne senior men's tennis player Drew Akins (Johns Creek, Ga. / Johns Creek) has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Endowed by Billie Jean King.
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 in May. He played at No. 2 singles and doubles for the majority of the 2019 season and earned Atlantic 10 Conference All-Academic Team 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. He was one of four finalists announced in late March along with Caroline Casper (Pomona Pitzer), Sarah Hall (Delaware) and Madison Watts (Webster).
Akins was the recipient of the ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award in 2018 while the Dukes recently earned the ITA's Community Service Award for the second straight season.
About Dr. Ann Lebedeff
Dr. Ann Lebedeff is the longtime head women's tennis coach and Professor Emeritus at Pomona College. Since taking the reins at Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, Dr. Lebedeff has guided her program to NCAA Division III quarterfinals seven times, including a semifinals appearance in 2008. Prior to moving to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges, Dr. Lebedeff, led Cal Poly Pomona (1989-98) men's and women's tennis teams to national championships, with the women claiming back-to-back national titles in 1991 and 1992 and the men capturing a doubles national championship in 1993. She began her coaching career at the University of Arizona in 1977. An outstanding collegiate tennis player at San Diego State University, Dr. Lebedeff is a member of the SDSU and Cal Poly Pomona Halls of Fame and will be inducted into the ITA Women's Collegiate Hall of Fame in September. A nationally ranked junior and collegiate player, Dr. Lebedeff won the U.S. Amateur Clay and Grass Courts doubles title in 1972, won the 1974 USTA National Women's Intercollegiate Doubles and 1970 New Zealand Women's Doubles titles.
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_Tennison Twitter and Instagram.www.itatennis.com.