Atlanta, GA’s Ernie Peterson Honored by United States Olympic Committee

March 2, 2004 11:12 AM

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) honored Atlanta’s Ernie Peterson recently, naming him the 2003 Developmental Coach of the Year for tennis. Peterson is currently the Director of Junior Development at Sugar Creek Tennis Center in Atlanta, GA.

Peterson has been a tennis coach and mentor for over thirty years. He directed the Junior Development Program at the Peterson School of Tennis, formerly known as the Burdette Junior Development Training Program at Burdette Tennis Center in College Park, GA for 27 years. Three months ago he took over the junior program at Sugar Creek Tennis Center in Atlanta.

“I am very honored to have received this award. There are many coaches who are deserving of this recognition and I am humbled to have been selected,” said Peterson.

Every year the USOC honors a National, Developmental and Volunteer Coach of the Year in their respective sport for their work in preparing athletes for performance in competition. The Developmental Coach of the Year is recognized for making a significant impact on an athlete’s success during their developmental stages and for equipping them with the necessary skills to be successful as they advance into the next level of competition.

While at the Burdette Tennis Center, Peterson trained kids as young as four by instructing them on the fundamentals of the game. His style of coaching fosters a enjoyable environment where youth learn the mechanics of tennis as well as positive decision-making skills.

“My primary objective in training kids is to help them become good enough to earn a scholarship to a college or university,” said Peterson. “I also want to make sure that they are prepared for life off the court after they finish college.”

In his thirty years of coaching, over seventy-five of Peterson’s students have been awarded tennis scholarships to NCAA Division I and II programs and many have gained local, state and national recognition.

One such success story is daughter, Jewel. Peterson coached his talented daughter as she developed through the junior ranks, racking up many state, sectional and national junior titles along the way. She enjoyed a very successful college career at the University of Southern California and has recently joined the USTA Professional Circuit Tour.

With no formal training himself, Peterson modestly maintains that he has a “God-given gift” to teach and to make a difference in the lives of the players in his program.

“I want to teach these kids more than just how to hit a tennis ball. More important than their tennis playing ability is their need to stay inspired and to believe in themselves.”

“Ernie is very deserving of this award,” said Bill Ozaki, Director of Programs & Development and High Performance for the USTA Southern Section. “He has always welcomed all players, even those who can not always afford to pay for instruction. He does not only teach fundamentals, but trains them in the beginning stages of their development and sees them all the way through to the national level.”

As the Developmental Coach of the Year for Tennis, Peterson is now a candidate for the USOC Coach of the Year award for tennis.