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Watts Named Finalist for ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award

Watts Named Finalist for ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award

Webster University senior Madison Watts (Rogersville, Mo./Logan Rogersville) was selected as one of four national finalists for the 2019 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, the organization announced on Monday.

The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, which is endowed by Billie Jean King, 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 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 excited to announce the four finalists for this year's ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award as they all have extremely impressive accolades and envelop what the award stands for," said ITA CEO Timothy Russell. "The selection panel has a difficult decision to make, and we look forward to announcing the winner in early June. We would like to once again thank Billie Jean King, a longtime friend and supporter of college tennis, for endowing this award and honoring the legacy of Ann Lebedeff, one of our sport's greatest coaches and educators."

The finalist's materials (i.e., personal statement, resume, letters from their coach, teammate and institution's President) will be submitted to the ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award Selection Panel. The ITA Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award winner will be honored by the ITA at a special awards ceremony in August during the ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Awards Weekend in New York, in addition to receiving a specially-engraved gift and post-graduate scholarship. The ITA will also donate $1,000 to the tennis program of the institution from which the award winner graduated.

Each finalist submitted a personal statement as part of the application process, which described the role that tennis and higher education played in their life, the lessons learned, examples of community service and a description of their plans upon graduation, describing hopes and dreams to be pursued.

"Madison has held many leadership positions and has been honored for many accomplishments and to be selected as a finalist for this outstanding honor by the ITA is just icing on the cake," Webster head women's tennis coach Martha Davis-Goldstein said. "Very rarely does a student-athlete leave a strong legacy to pass down through the ranks of our program and Madison's dedication to team, morals, academics and equality proves her a strong leader and positive influence of culture. Her impact and ideals help to shape our environment that will be sure to encourage many more young women to stand up, persevere through adversity and lead towards the path of excellence."

Watts was selected as one of four finalists along with Pomona-Pitzer's Caroline Casper, Delaware's Sarah Hall, and Duquesne's Andrew Akins. Casper and Watts are both NCAA Division III student-athletes, while Akins and Hall are NCAA Division I student-athletes.

She joined the UN registered NGO Webster Humanitarian Association and worked with local refugees to help acclimate life in Switzerland while promoting human rights and social justice in the Geneva community. Watts was also the founder and captain of the chapter organization "Love Your Melon", which raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer and is a member of the Children's Miracle Network of St. Louis Hospitals young professional's board.

About the ITA 
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, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITA_Tennis on Twitter and Instagram.