TEMPE, Ariz. – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced its 2020 Division III Men’s Regional awards on Wednesday and Gustavus senior Michael O’Neil (Edina) was named the Central Region’s recipient of the Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship award.
The Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award recognizes outstanding individuals in all divisions at the regional and national level. This award, which dates back to 1982, goes to NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and JUCO men’s and women’s players who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular, and tennis achievements.
“This is a massive honor for Michael, his teammates, and our program,” Head Coach Tommy Valentini said. “The Ashe Award is the highest honor that a college tennis player can receive, and I’ve never known a more deserving recipient in my 22 years in college tennis than Michael.
“As a player and competitor, he grew his game through hard, consistent and thoughtful work, and became an All-American as a senior. As a student double-majoring in finance and philosophy, he has carried a 4.0 GPA for four years and is an Academic-All American. He has served all of his communities – including Gustavus – in wonderfully impactful ways, and will continue to live a life of service. As a leader, he has been one of the finest to have ever worn a Gustavus uniform at every stage of his career in every role he has played. And as a sportsperson, Michael is one of the finest I’ve ever seen in Division III college tennis – he handles results with grace, class and humility, treats opponents, officials, and teammates with respect and care, and is a person of the highest integrity. He represents the best of Gustavus and our program, and all of college tennis. He has impacted our program beyond measure, and we are so proud of him and grateful for him.”
O’Neil is the second consecutive Gustie to earn the Central Region’s Arthur Ashe award as Chase Johnson garnered the honor last season.
Despite the shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ITA recognizes the hard work on and off the court from our deserving student-athletes. The Division III 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 Community Service Award.
The national winners of the awards will be announced next Wednesday at 10 a.m. during a virtual awards ceremony. The awards ceremony can be viewed on the ITA’s Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.