Solano College's Connor Ard receives ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award, leading CCCAA honors

Solano's Connor Ard was honored by the ITA. (Photo courtesy ITA)
Solano's Connor Ard was honored by the ITA. (Photo courtesy ITA)


FAIRFIELD - Connor Ard from Solano College has been named the 2022 ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner.

This season for the Falcons, Ard went 12-6 in singles competition and 14-9 in all doubles competition.

Academically, he has a 3.4 GPA and has been accepted to all eight 4-year schools he has applied to. Ard brings unparalleled energy and positivity on and off the court. He has helped create a culture at Solano Community College that propels his teammates and coaches to want to be out there with him because he is inclusive, respectful, and has a really good-natured soul.

Over the season, several other coaches have approached Solano's Head Coach over the season and expressed how wonderful of a person he is because he always plays fairly, respects and acknowledges his opponent's great shots, and always shakes the hand of opposing coaches after the match.

Ard's award was one of three for Solano College which also had Allie Will named as the ITA Women's Assistant Coach of the Year for Region I as well as the ITA Men's Assistant Coach of the Year. 

Several men's and women's tennis student-athletes and coaches from CCCAA schools were recognized by the ITA and are listed below.

        Connor Ard

Region I Award Women's Tennis Winners

  • Wilson ITA Coach of the Year: Steve Van Kanegan, El Camino College
  • ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Allie Will, Solano Community College
  • ITA Rookie of the Year: Abby Prokter, West Valley
  • ITA Most Improved Sophomore: Kendra Branch, Modesto Junior College
  • ITA Sophomore Player of the Year: Zoe Olmos, Chabot College

Region I Award Men's Tennis Winners

  • Wilson ITA Coach of the Year: Bo Jabery Madison, American River College
  • ITA Assistant Coach of the Year: Allie Will, Solano Community College
  • Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship: Connor Ard, Solano College
  • ITA Rookie of the Year: David Martirosian, Glendale Community College
  • ITA Most Improved Sophomore: Micah Erwin, American River College
  • ITA Sophomore Player of the Year: Arthur Bellegy, Irvine Valley College

A Letter From Head Coach Connor Van Alstyne to Connor Ard

Congratulations, Connor Ard, for winning the prestigious ITA National Arthur Ashe Leadership Award!

This is such an outstanding achievement and I am so proud of the leader, role model, and amazing teammate you have been this year and always. Never have I felt so honored and overjoyed to coach a player like yourself, and for the many reasons you are deserving of this award you will always stand out as a generational-type athlete with the most impeccable display of sportsmanship.

From the first moment I officially began coaching you in the Fall of 2021, I knew you were something special. Your positive energy and vibrant personality radiated amongst the team on the first day. Usually, the first few days with a new coach and new players can be a little tense, maybe even awkward, but you were so helpful with the new players and pumped up to be on the court with your new team, it made me realize that the whole year was going to be amazing because of you.

From that very first day all the way to your last match at Mt. San Antonio College for State Championships, you always kept a smile on your face and made others - including coaches and players, officials and spectators, and everyone else feel comfortable and happy.

In the face of success, it is easy to be happy and display good sportsmanship, however it is in the face of defeat where ones character is truly tested. Win or lose, you always rushed up to the net and shook your opponent’s hand. Typically, you were the first one up to the net, too!

Then, you rushed over to shake the opposing coach’s hand. Many coaches and players spoke highly of your attitude on court and that you always kept it fair, even in tight points or matches. Even when other teammates would struggle on court, you would always notice their feelings and do whatever you could to lift their spirits up.

Moreover, you have never been shy to ask for help or what you could do to do better. More amazingly, is that this came second to your willingness to help others. With all of your amazing qualities it is no secret when it comes to your authentic, good-hearted nature and total classy display of good sportsmanship.

It is with my most sincere and utmost happiness that you, Connor, have earned this award.

Let this be a treasurable moment instilled in your legacy, but also know that this is only the beginning of greater things to come.

You are an amazing person and human being and the whole tennis community is a better place than before because of you. Wishing you nothing but the best on your journey ahead and know that I am so proud and thankful for your accomplishments on and off the court!

Congratulations once again, Connor Ard!