Photo credit goes to Drew University.
By: Kimberly Redmond
A member of the men’s tennis team at Drew University was among the 60 college students this year to earn the Intercollegiate Tennis Association/ Arthur Ashe Jr. Leadership & Sportsmanship Award.
Junior Karel Raska was also the only student selected from his conference or from a New Jersey college to receive a Division III Atlantic-South Region Award.
The award has been given to student-athletes since 1982, when Ashe created the recognition as a way to honor individuals who have shown great achievements.
It takes into account a player’s tennis accomplishments, scholastic successes and extracurricular activities in order to recognize players who excel on and off the court – as Ashe did.
During his tennis career, Ashe won three Grand Slam singles titles, became the only black male tennis player to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. When he wasn’t playing, Ashe became well known for his community and social activism.
Until his tragic passing in 1993, the tennis legend personally handed out the Leadership & Sportsmanship awards each year. The award recognizes student athletes in all divisions, at both the regional and national level, according to the Intercollegiate Tennis Association.
Raska, a Morristown High School graduate, served as team captain of the Drew Rangers this past season and has been “a solid contributor” since joining the team as a freshman two years ago, according to information provided by Drew University.
During the spring 2019 season, one of Raska’s most memorable moments occurred when he clinched Drew University’s 5-4 Landmark Conference victory at the University of Scranton with his win at No. 5 singles. It gave the Rangers their first victory over the Royals in over seven years, according to Drew.
Away from the tennis court, Raska is a business major and an international relations/photography minor at the college in Madison, where he “has been heavily involved in numerous campus activities,” the school said.
“A French horn player and Jill Spurr Titus Instrumental Music Honors Scholar, Raska is a member of the Drew University Orchestra and the Drew Brass Ensemble,” according to the school.
Raska is also the vice president of Drew University’s German Club, acts as a campus tour guide and volunteers at a local nursing home, where he brings his blind therapy dog to work with residents, according to the school.
This past school year, Raska also received several academic accolades, including a second place art award at Drew University’s annual College of Liberal Arts Awards.
He was also one of 41 student athletes who made the Academic Honor Roll of the Landmark Conference, a recognition given to those who achieve a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 while in season.
Raska was also one of eight college players to earn a spot on the Landmark Conference’s All-Sportsmanship Team for the spring 2019 season, which showcases student athletes who embrace fair play, graciousness in victory and respectfulness in defeat.