2016 USTA Southern Award winners

November 11, 2016 02:29 PM

USTA Southern announced today the recipients of its 2016 awards, given for outstanding achievements in tennis both on and off the court. Twenty-seven winners will be recognized during the USTA Southern Annual Meeting at the Atlanta Perimeter Marriott Hotel, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Here are the accomplishments and credits of the 2016 USTA Southern Award winners.

Adult Tournament of the Year
Holiday Classic presented by Allstate Wally Burbage Agency; Daniel Island, S.C.

The Holiday Classic presented by Wally Burbage Allstate Agency has been in existence for eight years and has grown from less than 100 to over 215 players in 2015. All the net proceeds of the event have gone to two important causes. In its first four years the event’s more than $40,000 in proceeds went to the Earnest Hollings Cancer Center, and the last four years of proceeds have gone to MUSC Children's Hospital. The tournament features a silent auction with great giveaways, a tournament gift for each player, three meals and a lot of great tennis.

Community Tennis Association of the Year
Columbus Regional Tennis Association; Columbus, Ga.

The Columbus Regional Tennis Association (CORTA) was founded in 1952 and has a membership of over 2,300. The CTA is located at Cooper Creek Tennis Center, the nation’s largest public clay-court facility. With the increase in the popularity of tennis locally and the ensuing demand for court time, CORTA recognized the need for more courts. Realizing the best option for Columbus would be collaboration by CORTA, Columbus State University and the City of Columbus’ Parks & Recreation Department, the three entities united as one team to build a large facility adjacent to Cooper Creek Tennis Center. This ambitious team’s effort to maximize Cooper Creek Tennis Park is as much a desire to satisfy the exponentially expanding growth of organized tennis in the area as it was to offer one of the finest tennis facilities in the country to tournament organizers who can bring competitors from around the country to Columbus.

Educational Merit Award
Shelby Rhyne; Madison, N.C.

Upon moving to North Carolina in 2014, Shelby Rhyne recognized a need for tennis programming within Rockingham County. Since then, Rhyne has devoted her life to founding and directing the Rockingham County Tennis Association. Through this CTA, she has gained funding and support to resurface community tennis courts, designed and implemented after school tennis programs within several Rockingham County schools and established other youth tennis programs such as Junior Team Tennis and Tennis Apprentice. In all her pursuits, Rhyne has built from the ground up. In just two years, Rockingham County has gone from no tennis programming to a growing tennis community. Shelby is continually working to make Rockingham County’s tennis community bigger and stronger.

Gerrie Rothwell Award (For outstanding service and dedication to the USTA League program)
Nan Smith; Columbia, S.C.

In 2016, Nan Smith added a hugely successful program to her already very full plate of tennis responsibilities. With the financial support of the Columbia Tennis League (CTL) and pros in the Columbia area, she scheduled eight Tennis Apprentice sessions since September which has resulted in adding 100 new USTA members! Smith attended the first class of each session to hand out the new racquets and went back six weeks later with a gift from the CTL: a string back pack, a can of tennis balls and a brochure about USTA League Tennis with her contact information. She is the CTL's Combo Doubles Local League Coordinator, CTL Secretary, USTA South Carolina Central Area Director, chair of its Strategic Planning Committee and serves on the USTA South Carolina Grievance Committee. She is a member of the USTA Southern Adult League and Growth & Innovation committees.

Jim Russell Junior Tournament of the Year
Chick-fil-A of Anderson Palmetto Championships; Belton, S.C.

The Chick-fil-A of Anderson Palmetto Championships continues to be a standout event. All individuals, parents, coaches, player and guests leave the Palmetto Championships praising the facilities, organization, friendliness and overall experience of this tournament. Special events include a block party for all players on Friday night with food and games provided and a special ceremony during the block party to recognize the 18 and under players and lunch for players, parents, family members, coaches and guests on the front lawn on Monday. One player who is an incoming college freshman is presented the $2,000 Dunlop Scholarship. Chick-fil-A of Anderson is the title sponsor. Presenting sponsors include Dunlop, Pepsi, Playsafe, Smith Stearns Tennis Academy, Wells Fargo and AnMed Health. The tournament had more than 30 USTA certified officials.

Junior Team Tennis Coordinator of the Year
Deby Caldwell; Columbus, Ga.

Deby Caldwell dreamed of starting a program that provides a meaningful tennis experience to children in different age groups and different ability levels. Her goal was to deliver the best quality tennis clinics and enrichment programs for these kids in a fun, and nurturing environment. Within the first year of starting this program, it grew to the point that players will break off into age groups and levels. Caldwell not only started this program, but also trained all the volunteers involved. The program itself has been great, but it is Caldwell’s can-do attitude that sets it apart. Caldwell exemplifies the award criteria in several categories, including leadership, excellence, and dedication to serving the Columbus community and surrounding areas. Deby’s commitment to excellence, her ability to pay close attention to detail, and her strong leadership skills were essential ingredients to moving this program forward. Today, Deby hosts a Spring Junior Team Tennis, a summer youth league, as well as a Fall Junior Team Tennis School League. In 2015, 21 schools and 427 students participated in the after school league program. In the spring and summer, she had 31 Junior Team Tennis teams and 285 players

Local League Coordinator of the Year
Lucy Anderson & Barbara Leisey; Grovetown, Ga.

Lucy Anderson and Barbara Leisey assumed the local league coordinator position in June 2014 and have consistently dedicated their many years of executive management and tennis experiences as players and captains to the job. Immediately, they evaluated the growing community demographics and created an operational and strategic plan to serve as their beacon as they navigated through the myriad of management issues, confusing local regulations and poor player relations that had stymied local league growth for years. Today, the Central Savannah River Area Tennis Association (CSRATA) local league is vital, healthy, growing and posed to assume the upcoming challenges of unprecedented area growth. Their love of tennis, executive experience, team work and dynamic charisma can only begin to explain the success of this extraordinary team. For the players, the tangible improvements in the CSRATA local league are stunning and palpable.

Mac MacDougal Tennis Official of the Year
Narayan Anand; Johnson City, Tenn.

Narayan Anand has been the local coordinator for northeastern Tennessee area for years. He works tirelessly to make sure all the needs for the local colleges are filled. In his spare time, Anand can be found officiating not just in Tennessee but in ACC and SEC matches, at national junior tournaments and professional tournaments including the Western Southern Open and US Open.

Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award
Cindy Dreikosen, Social & Digital Media; Cary, N.C.

Cindy Dreikosen is the Western Wake Tennis Association (WWTA) Vice President of Communications. Due to Dreikosen’s creativity, dedication and willingness to learn about communications, WWTA now has several effective avenues to communicate to players, facilities and partners – all in fun and entertaining ways. All you have to do is check Twitter and Facebook pages to see the constant updates, interesting stories and event updates Dreikosen is sharing. Her dedication to tennis and the WWTA are unrivaled.

Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award
Billie Fitzsimons; Wilmington, N.C.

Billie Fitzsimons is the embodiment of the Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award. Gracious and unassuming, she sees a need and finds a way to fill it. Eight years ago, Fitzsimons began coaching athletes with intellectual disabilities in the Wilmington area. With an initial goal to prepare a team to participate in the Special Olympics, her team was having so much fun on the court that they wanted to play tennis all year long - not just for a Special Olympics tournament! Fitzsimons hooked up with Abilities Tennis of North Carolina and began holding tennis clinics for her team every Thursday afternoon. If you stop by Empie Park between 4:30 and 6:00, year-round, you will see anywhere from 10 to 20 athletes practicing skills, playing short court, and full court doubles and singles, with lots of volunteers helping out. It is clear that her team, and their families, hold her in high regard. Not only have the members of the team excelled in tennis, but they have grown in their social interactions and personal confidence.

Member Organization of the Year
Bayou Bluff Tennis Club; Gulfport, Miss.

Bayou Bluff Tennis Club (BBTC) is a private recreational club located on seven acres overlooking Bayou Bernard. There are 10 hard courts, three clay courts, and two 36’ lined courts. Non-members are always welcome to BBTC for lessons, and clinics. Pee Wee Tennis, Rising Stars, Future Stars, tournament players, high school clinics, Cardio Tennis and group clinics are offered to members and non-members. Director of Tennis Toby Fasthe is instrumental in assisting all members who want to play on a USTA team. It is a team effort and the entire staff works diligently together to make this a success. BBTC feels it is very important to give back to the community outside of tennis. They donate gift certificates monthly for lessons to the local heart association, local schools, Make a Wish Foundation, Junior Auxiliary, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club and many more to assist in raising funds for their organizations.

Mickey McNulty Family of the Year
Myra Mathes O'Dell & W.T. Mathes Family; Kingsport, Tenn.

The Mathes/O'Dell family exemplifies the phrase: “the sport for a lifetime.” W.T. Mathes is 96 years old and is, and always has been, a role model to his family and to community. He started playing tennis at a young age in his hometown of Greeneville, Tenn. After high school, he played college tennis at Milligan College, graduating in 1942. When his daughter showed an interest in tennis in the late 1960's, W.T. picked up his racket again and has continued to play ever since. W. T. has supported tennis in the community, helping sponsor local tennis tournaments and donating his time to the East Tennessee State University tennis teams and to Milligan College. The Mathes, O'Dell family consists of a father, his two daughters, son-in-law, and grandchildren; three generations represent the sport for a lifetime, a true inspiration to all who meet this extended tennis family.

NJTL Chapter of the Year
CORTA TennisWorks in the Parks; Columbus, Ga.

CORTA TennisWorks in the Parks is a diverse outreach tennis program for children ages 5-18. This program consists of supervised tennis instruction from dedicated mentor volunteers. There is no cost to the participants. TennisWorks in the Parks is supported by generous private donations, sponsors, CORTA volunteers and the City of Columbus Parks & Recreation Department. TennisWorks educational sessions bring professionals from the community to come in interact with the kids on court, talk to the parents and encourage them to keep their kids engaged in tennis. From TennisWorks in the Parks the kids go into TennisWorks in the Schools and Junior Team Tennis team and have an opportunity to receive the Aaron Cohn Scholarship Award which help to further their tennis abilities.

No-Cut Coach Starfish Award
Robert "Bob" Brown; Townsend, Ga.

Coach Bob Brown promotes tennis as a family sport that can be played for a lifetime. He encourages his players to give back through community service. The boys’ and girls’ teams serve the underserved kids in their community with tennis camps and instruction, becoming good stewards for life. Winning is important. However Brown stresses to his players the value of dignity, humility and selflessness. He shows the players that they can be groomed for collegiate tennis and/or Tennis on Campus teams.

Ozaki-Hastings Junior Sportsmanship Award
Chloe Beck; Watkinsville, Ga.

Chloe Beck has been an outstanding competitor and sportswoman representing USTA Georgia and USTA Southern since she competed at the 10 and under level.  Beck is the ultimate team  player, who has joined USTA teams in sectional and national tournaments. She maintains her high level of sportsmanship no matter the level of competition in which she is involved. In 2016 she won USTA National Doubles Girls’ 16s Championship, the USTA National Clay Court Girls’ 16s Championship, along with winning the Easter Bowl Girls’ 16s doubles and the Atlanta and Lexington, S.C. ITF Girls’ 18s singles.

Southern Tennis Professional of the Year
Jonathan Barth; Charleston, S.C.

As a junior player Jonathan Barth was ranked in the top ten for South Carolina and was a member of the Bishop England High School tennis team, which won the South Carolina State High School Championships four consecutive years. He played college tennis at the College of Charleston. He is a member of the Wilson Advisory Staff and the K-Swiss Advisory Staff, and is certified by the Professional Tennis Registry. Barth has been with the Kiawah Island Golf Resort since 1993. He is always looking to get more tournaments and better experiences for the kids. He is an advocate for getting individuals involved in the sport and continuing the game himself. There is not another pro that has done more volunteer work for the USTA South Carolina for junior tennis or runs more USTA six junior and two adult sanctioned events

Special Tennis Event of the Year
Visually Impaired Preschool Services; VIPS Tennis Ball & Tournament; Louisville, Ky.

The Visually Impaired Preschool Services; VIPS Tennis Tournament began in 2005 as a one-day fundraiser ancillary to the annual VIPS Golf Tournament. At that time, the teams mainly consisted of wives whose husbands were playing in the golf tournament. There were no corporate sponsors of the event, and the event only raised a few thousand dollars. Since then, the event moved to the Louisville Boat Club, the premier tennis facility in Kentucky. The number of teams that participate in the VIPS Tennis Tournament has grown 345 percent. The quality and depth of the event have improved dramatically over the years. The entry fee provides for lunch, a player gift bag including a pair of top-of-the-line Prince Tennis shoes, and a cocktail party including an open bar and hors d’oeuvres that are served during the Division Finals. In 2011 the event won the USTA Kentucky award as Charity Event of the Year.

Team Tennis Event of the Year
Carolina Cup; Elon, N.C.

The Carolina Cup began in 1997 under the direction of USTA North Carolina. It has a rich history of being a top-notch event, with its higher-level players, nice venues, tradition of having good food and a great organization. This year was no exception as 181 players competed, while 18 volunteers seamlessly worked to create a highly successful event. The tournament has many amenities including a reception dinner Friday night; lunch Friday through Sunday, captain gifts, player t-shirts and a team photo. The tournament also secured a number of sponsors that contributed to the wine, beer, t-shirts and food. The community supported the event with the offer of courts for practice and the local paper interviewed players and wrote several articles and tournament updates.

Tennis On Campus Club of the Year
University of Alabama’s Crimson Club Tennis Team; Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The University of Alabama’s club tennis team has grown faster than any other sports club on Alabama’s campus. In 2012, there were a mere 12 members on the club; only six of them being full-time participants. In 2016, the club has seen the biggest member turnout in its history. The club is comprised of 80 members, 38 on the competitive travel team and 42 on the recreational team. The Alabama club tennis roster is the biggest of all the sports clubs at the university. The team strives to build lasting friends, while also heavily impacting the surrounding community. Tennis is obviously a top priority for the club, but it is even more important to the officers and members to create dynamic friendships and leave a lasting impression on the club, the campus and the community.

Tennis On Campus Leader of the Year
Shelby Akin, University of Alabama; Tuscaloosa, Ala.

In four short years Shelby Akin has taken a small organization and shaped it into a large 80-member team that students are proud to join. Akin has been the president of the club team for the two years and has done an exceptional job. She has also worked hard to join the Crimson Club Tennis Team with the UA Wheel Chair Tennis Team. Both teams work in collaboration to volunteer at tournaments, and host round robins. A few weekends ago, many members of the Crimson Club Tennis Team volunteered at a tournament for the wheelchair team, one of the only tournaments in the country for wheelchair tennis players. This connection has also helped the club sports environment at the university grow closer and inspired other clubs to begin working with organizations in their respective interest areas. Through her efforts, she has sparked greatness and set the bar exceedingly high for other club sports on UA’s campus.

Wheelchair Tennis Excellence Award
Charles “Buddy” Mays; Meansville, Ga.

Buddy Mays is one of the most outstanding wheelchair player/volunteers in Georgia. Mays is a voluntary coach, focusing on teaching children the sport. Rome has hosted two "train the trainer" sessions and Mays attended both. He is always willing to help wherever needed and is a great ambassador for the sport. He is not selfish with his time and truly has the best interest of promoting adaptive sport - specifically wheelchair tennis.

 

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