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Knoxville's Claire Maisel Presented with the 2002 USTA Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award

February 19, 2003 09:38 AM

Clare Maisel of Knoxville, TN, was presented with the Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award on Saturday, February 8 at an awards banquet, held during the USA Tennis Community Tennis Development Workshop. Over 450 people attended the workshop and banquet, held at the Millennium Hotel. The USTA bestows the Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award upon individuals who perpetuate her selfless mission to bring the game of tennis to anyone who wants to play.

Maisel was one of six 2002 Eve. F. Kraft Community Service Award recipients from across the country. The others include: Jeff. D. Horn of Orlando, Fla.; Anne Krupp of Fostoria, Ohio; Simon A. Menchaca of Houston; Sue Selke of Lansing, Mich.; and Joe White of Gary, Ind.

For 17 years, Maisel taught audiology and speech therapy at the University of Tennessee. Upon her young retirement at 56, Maisel took up tennis and has never looked back. She co-founded “Never-Ever Tennis,” a teaching program that introduces people over the age of 50 to tennis. An estimated 950 men and women have enrolled in the program since its inception over 12 years ago. And while Maisel tells everyone that it is not designed as a dating service, there have been six marriages as a result of the program.

The “graduates” of the Never-Ever Tennis program are encouraged to join the “Eager Beavers,” a six-week tennis program with instruction and drills to enhance skills. Maisel is also founder and organizer of the “Trail Blazers” program—two male and female teams of novice tennis players who compete with other senior teams in their area. For the past 16 years she has coordinated and promoted “Early Bird Tennis,” where players of various ages and skill gather at 5:30 a.m. to play on indoor courts. Her programs have earned her recognition by the USTA Southern Section and Tennessee’s Tennis Association as a shining example of what the combination of dedication, ingenuity and enthusiasm can do.

Eve F. Kraft was a tennis pioneer whose ability to touch people’s lives exceeded the boundaries of the tennis court. As teacher, coach, author, USTA staff member and volunteer, Kraft was a lifelong champion of recreational tennis in the United States until her death in 1999. She introduced thousands of young people to the game of tennis, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

 

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