Blough wins 2024 ITA National Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award

By Jacob Knabel on May. 13, 2024 in Women's Tennis

ITA Release

SEWARD, Neb. – Tabbed a regional award winner on May 6, Concordia University, Nebraska junior Tessa Blough earned even loftier distinction from the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) on Monday (May 13). The organization announced the Cody, Wyo., native as winner of the NAIA’s National Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award winner. Blough had previously been chosen as the central regional honoree for the Arthur Ashe Award.

Every year the ITA honors coaches and players for their excellence on the court and in their communities throughout the season. The ITA Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership and Sportsmanship Award recognizes outstanding student-athletes in all five divisions (NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and JUCO) at the regional and national level. This prestigious award, which dates back to 1982, is presented to the men’s and women’s national student-athletes who have exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership, as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements.

Blough was one of four NAIA student-athletes nationally to be chosen as a regional Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship award winner. She is a Psychology and Behavioral Science major and represents the Concordia Tennis program on the Bulldog Council of Student-Athletes. Blough leads the team in number of community service hours and has spent significant time volunteering at Ridgewood Rehab & Care Center in Seward. Additionally, she lives with a condition called lupus and is in a constant state of managing her symptoms while competing at the highest levels on the court and excelling in the classroom.

Says Hart, “Tessa epitomizes what being a student athlete should be about.  Her sportsmanship on and off the court is an example for everyone to follow. She is the definition of a servant leader, always putting her teammates above herself. She is a wonderful ambassador of our University, and I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to coach her.”

As part of her candidacy for the Arthur Ashe award, Blough drafted an essay on “the importance of leadership and sportsmanship.” Wrote Blough, “Throughout my athletic career, I have strived to embody the essence of leadership and sportsmanship, and I will continue to uphold those going into my senior year. I have come to realize that leadership and sportsmanship are tied together. I see leadership as not just helping lead your team to success, but also being someone who empowers, uplifts, encourages and supports your teammates on and off the court. As a leader, I want to be a role model for my teammates to where I exhibit good sportsmanship and create a positive environment.”