ATLANTA - Announced on Wednesday by the Southern Athletic Association, men's tennis student-athlete Jack Gray has earned the honor of the Wessex Hotels SAA Man of the Year.
"On behalf of our eight SAA institutions, I would like to congratulate Jack on this award," said SAA Commissioner Jay Gardiner. "Jack joins a long-list of Sewanee student-athletes of winning one of our major SAA honors. He embodies what an SAA and NCAA Division III student-athlete is about. Not only did he have success on the court, but his record in the classroom and in the community truly stood out among a number of outstanding nominees."
The Chattanooga, Tenn. native was a four-time All-SAA selection and was selected to the First Team the last three seasons. He concludes his career with 77 doubles wins and 52 singles wins, finishing with a combined record of 129-59 in singles and doubles matches. Additionally, he was a member of four SAA Regular Season and Tournament Championships.
His freshman campaign saw him record the SAA Newcomer of the Year, posting an 11-11 record in singles. However, with partner Eric Roddy, the duo went 28-5 and was named an All-American by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The doubles team finished ranked 16th nationally and fourth in the Atlantic South Region.
The team not only qualified for the NCAA Individual Championships that season, but they also won the ITA Regional Championships in the Main Doubles Draw and finished as a finalist at the ITA Small College Doubles Championship.
His sophomore season saw him pick up where he left off in doubles, but this time with a new partner in Alejandro Becker. The team finished 14-2 together as Gray recorded a 17-6 record. The duo also finished the year with a ranking, as they were ranked 24th in the country and fifth in the region.
In singles, he also improved immensely, posting a 15-3 record, which helped him to a First Team All-Conference selection after a Second Team honor the year prior.
His junior year saw him qualify once again for the NCAA Individual Championships, this time in Singles play, recording a 12-7 record. Earning Region Player to Watch honors by the ITA, he finished the 2018 season 27th in the nation in singles and fifth in the region.
Adding a 15-11 doubles record, 10-5 with Becker, he, once again, was named First Team All-Conference, and he earned the title of SAA Player of the Year.
His senior campaign saw him record a 17-8 doubles record and 14-8 in singles to earn First Team All-SAA for the third straight year. However, at his last SAA Tournament Championship Match, he earned the clinching point in singles to give Sewanee its seventh straight SAA Tournament Championship. He was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player.
Academically, he was a four-time recipient of the SAA Academic Honor Roll and has been selected as an ITA Scholar Athlete as he graduated with a degree in Mathematics with a Spanish minor last month.
Gray becomes the third SAA Man of the Year to be selected from The University of the South, joining former tennis partner Eric Roddy C'16 and Phillip Link C'13 from the men's swimming and diving team.
The SAA, in partnership with Wessex Hotels, bestows an SAA Man and Woman of the Year award following the conclusion of each academic year.
In a joint effort to honor the Southern Athletic Association's most elite student-athletes, Wessex Hotels and the SAA partnered to create the annual SAA Man and Woman of the Year. The awards, selected by a committee comprised of Wessex and SAA representatives, are given to the senior class male and female nominees who best exemplify traits of leadership, character, athletic and academic success.
The SAA Man and Woman of the Year awards are the highest honors the league bestows, and a ceremony to celebrate the recipients and their families is held following the announcement.
The criteria for SAA Man and Woman of the Year nominees included that they must be a senior with no eligibility remaining, they must have been named First Team All-SAA in the sport in which in the participated during their athletic careers, and they must have qualified for the SAA Academic Honor Roll during their tenure as a student-athlete. Additionally, SAA Man and Woman of the Year candidates are expected to be involved in their local community in some meaningful way.