Lawrence Washington, a stand-out student-athlete for the Tennessee State University tennis team, garnered many awards during his stint as a Tiger. He completed his final season with a 7-4 record and an overall mark of 20-18. . Following his senior campaign, Lawrence was named to the All-OVC team and thus became the first TSU tennis player to receive the honor. Additionally, he was named the 2012 Tennis MVP while boasting the team's highest GPA, 3.8. Academically, he was an ITA Scholar Athlete for four consecutive years and received the 2012 Academic Excellence Star Award. In May 2012, the Arthur Ashe Scholar, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Political Science.
TSUTigers sat down with Lawrence to talk about his TSU experience.
TSUTigers: Talk about your overall TSU experience.
L. Washington: My overall experience at TSU has been life changing. Transferring in to TSU, I had no idea what to expect. I come from a very diverse background so transferring to an HBCU was something different. The most fascinating aspect about TSU was the nurturing environment. Friends and Faculty treated you as if you were family. Though some of us weren't on the same page as each other all the time, they still pushed me to be the best that I could possibly be and that is very rare.
TSUTigers: What do you love most about TSU?
L. Washington: TSU is so diverse. What many people don't know about HBCU's is that although they are predominantly black institutions, people still come from all walks of life and have a different story to tell. From hearing these stories, it has given me a new insight on life.
TSUTigers: What will you miss most about TSU?
L. Washington: The thing I will miss most about TSU is the overall environment. When you step onto TSU's campus, you know you are at TSU. It is a fun, electric, and moving environment.
TSUTigers: What is your most memorable tennis moment at TSU?
L. Washington: There were two memorable tennis moments that I will never forget. The first one was when I beat Jacksonville State University in a three set match this past season. It was one of my last matches as a senior and it was about a 2 ½ hour match. On match point during a third set tie-break, I was going for a drop shot and the ball clipped the net and fell over on my opponent's side and I won the match. I know that isn't something to gloat about but I tried that same exact shot in the identical situation against Murray State and the ball fell back on my side and I ended up losing that match. Another memorable moment for me at TSU was receiving all-conference honors for tennis. That has not been done in school history for the sport of tennis. To transfer in and put TSU tennis and TSU athletics on the map was a defining moment for me.
TSUTigers: What is your most memorable non-tennis moment at TSU?
L. Washington: One of the most memorable non-tennis moments at TSU was probably receiving the highest G.P.A award in the political science department. I know that I am a great student but many students in that department are so bright and intelligent. I was so shocked when they called my name at the awards banquet. The second most memorable non-tennis moment was being selected by Dr. Latham to attend the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute in New York City. It was a life changing experience.
TSUTigers: How did social networking this season play a part in the season?
L. Washington: Social networking played a great part in this past tennis season. Many people were tweeting about the tennis matches and many people came out to watch. I know personally, President Shields retweeted an article that came out about my all conference recognition. That helped raise more awareness for our program. I also saw other media outlets speak about our tennis program so it was a positive thing for us.
TSUTigers: Do you have a favorite TSU fan/supporter?
L. Washington: My parents are my favorite fans. They have been with me throughout my whole tennis career. I cannot express how grateful I am to have to wonderful parent who are willing to invest their time and efforts to make sure that I was successful on the tennis court. They have been with me when times were rough and when times were great and I love them with all my heart. Love you Mom and Dad!
TSUTigers: Talk about the transition of playing on the college level?
L. Washington: Playing on the collegiate level from high school was tough. You are playing with well-seasoned players who have a wealth of experience. It was tough because I would be in a match wondering why my opponents would show no fear in certain pressure situations. I was also shocked about the difficulty to win a match. Since I had an overall 80-11 record in high school, I was used to winning a lot and winning effortlessly. Well, let's just say, if you want to win, you have to give a 1000 percent on court because your opponent, like yourself, does not want to lose.
TSUTigers: What advice would you give to incoming freshman?
L. Washington: Incoming freshman need to prioritize. They should first focus on school followed by their sport and then lastly, their social life. If they follow this order (The three S'es), they will become a great student athlete. Also, incoming freshman need to learn patience. Many freshmen feel that since they were recruited, they are going to be the best out there automatically. It takes time to develop into a great player so be patient and listen to what people are telling you because they want you to become the next great player.
TSUTigers: What was your most challenging class at TSU?
L. Washington: My most challenging and rewarding course at TSU was the Venture Creation Class taught by Dr. Latham in the honors department. We had to develop a case study for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and their Leadership Institute. The case study outlined their current problems and proposals to help their Fund and Institute. We had to present this case study in from of the CEO of Thurgood Marshall, Johnny C. Taylor and the Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Campus Relations, Scott Lilly. Talk about nerve racking. Our team presented very well and Mr. Taylor and Mr. Lilly were thoroughly impressed and took many of our recommendations into consideration. Our class of about seven (7) students worked very hard to make sure this case study and presentation was done very well.
TSUTigers: What organizations were you a part of besides tennis?
L. Washington: I was a part of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity in which I served as President. I was also a part of the University Honors Program.
TSUTigers: Who have been the most influential people to you at TSU?
L. Washington: Dr. Latham, Dr. Holt, Dr. Paruchuri, Dr. Russell, Dr. Scales, Dr. Schmeller, Coach Robinson, and Dr. Smith and Gabriel in the Academic Success Center have all been influential to me at TSU. These influential individuals all come from diverse backgrounds and bring something unique to the table. They also do not get the recognition they deserve. They each work so hard each and every single day to make sure that students are growing and developing in and outside the class room. They have all inspired me differently and I just hope that students at TSU meet these individuals. They truly want you to succeed. These are TSU's finest. Thank you all!
TSUTigers: What's next for you?
L. Washington: I am moving to Washington D.C. to attend Georgetown University. I am getting my masters in Real Estate Finance and Development. It is one of the top programs in the nation and I am excited to be a part of it.
TSUTigers: Once you are an alumnus, how will you stay connected with TSU?
L. Washington: I will always give back and come back to TSU to visit. TSU has changed my life dramatically and I want them to continue on doing this for others as well. I will make it a point to donate generously and come back to speak with all students to make sure that they are growing in the classroom.
TSUTigers: What do you know now that you didn't know coming in as a freshman?
L. Washington: Your goal should not be to gain awards and accolades in sports. If you have fun playing your sport and work hard each and every single day to improve your game, then the awards and accolades will follow you.
TSUTigers: What have you learned at TSU that you will keep with you for the rest of your life?
L. Washington: Always be open to listening and meeting different people. Something they may say or someone you may meet might change your life for the better.
TSUTigers: Is there anything else that you would like to say to the TSU family?
L. Washington: One thing I would like to say to my TSU family is that you are all great individuals and you will all accomplish great things. Don't let anyone else tell you anything differently. TSU is a great institution with some of the brightest students and faculty in this nation. Keep God first and continue on thinking, working, and serving!