STA/ITA Community Service and Campus Recreation Award Winners Announced Ouachita Baptist, Gustavus Adolphus Coaches Earn National Recognition

November 21, 2007

SKILLMAN, N.J. — Ouachita Baptist University Director of Tennis Craig Ward has been named the national winner of the USTA/ITA Community Service Award and Gustavus Adolphus’ men’s tennis coach Steve Wilkinson is the national winner of the USTA/ITA Campus Recreation Award. Both coaches will be honored on December 15 at the ITA Coaches Convention at the Napes Grande Resort and Spa in Naples, Fla., during the ITA Welcoming and Awards Banquet.

The USTA/ITA Community Service Award honors an ITA coach for significant contributions in developing community-based tennis programs through community centers, schools, parks, community tennis associations, inner city, suburban or rural programs. The USTA/ITA Campus Recreation Award honors an ITA coach who has done an outstanding job implementing the USTA’s Tennis on Campus program or similar recreational tennis programs in an effort to grow tennis participation within the campus community.

“Craig and Steve are great examples of coaches who give back to their communities and campuses and our hope is that their efforts continue to inspire other varsity coaches to emulate the great work they are doing,” says ITA Executive Director David A Benjamin. “We strongly believe that community service and campus recreation programs are vital for today’s college coach to become involved in and these awards help highlight the coaches who have made those crucial efforts.”

“The USTA is proud to be associated with these very special coaches,” says Glenn Arrington, USTA National Manager, Collegiate Tennis. “We recognize the many challenges varsity tennis coaches face and tip our hat to those that go above and beyond the call of duty like this year’s winners have. The extra efforts coaches put into their campus and community activities pay dividends for everyone involved in and around the sport of tennis.”

This year’s national winners were selected from a group of USTA Sectional winners determined this fall (and listed below). This awards program, which began in 2003, was open to over 2,000 ITA head and assistant coaches at the NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College levels.

Ward, who is also the award winner for the USTA/Southern Section, is in his 17th season as Director of Tennis for the men’s and women’s programs at Ouachita Baptist. Ward has made promoting tennis within the Arkadelphia community a priority in his time at OBU. Some of the many accomplishments and programs that Ward can be credited with include: four outdoor courts completed in 1990 which are free and open to the public, the establishment of five USTA leagues, including leagues for women and seniors, a Junior Program that meets once a week September through April, numerous doubles clinics throughout the year, a Junior Kid’s Free Clinic and Play Day which was used to tell players about Junior Team tennis, hosting events like USTA’s Welcome Back to Tennis and local high school conference and state tournaments, offering the USTA Cardio Tennis program, creating a “Moonlight Tennis” women’s doubles scramble and the Tiger Tennis Academy, and offering Arkansas’ only residential tennis camp every summer. All the while, Ward has worked to organize homecoming events for faculty and alumni, as well as involving his tennis teams in Tiger Serve Day, in which students, faculty and staff go out into the community and volunteer.

Wilkinson is in his 38th year as the men’s tennis coach at Gustavus Adolphus, and is also the winner for the USTA/Northern section. In addition to creating and maintaining one of the most successful Division III men’s tennis programs in the nation, Wilkinson has taken great steps to promote the game of tennis on the Gustavus Adolphus campus. He runs three tennis leagues that play in the fall and spring, including an Intermediate League with six teams, an Advanced Singles League and an Advanced Doubles League. In the month of January, Wilkinson provides free indoor recreational tennis for all Gustavus students three days a week. He has also established two competitive intramural teams on campus, who compete at the Sectional Championships and have also hosted intramural competitions against two teams from the University of Minnesota. Wilkinson has helped to organize an Advanced Intramural Doubles Tennis League on campus, which consists of six teams that play a round robin, and an eventual league championship. He’s also created an Advanced Intramural Singles Tennis League with a similar team format; prizes from the USTA go to champions from each league.

Past National Award Recipients: 2006 – Chris Young, Wichita State (Community Service) and Dave Shook, Lehigh University (Campus Recreation); 2005 – Michael Gennette, California Lutheran (Community Service) and Dee Henry, Biola University (Campus Recreation); 2004 – J Webb Horton, Florida Gulf Coast University (Community Service) and Kai Fong, Lewis-Clark State (Campus Recreation); 2003 – Greg Patton, Boise State (Community Service) and Laura Travis, University of Delaware (Campus Recreation)