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Neely, Stephens, Utley Picked For Hall Of Fame

November 26, 2013 03:14 AM

The Southern Tennis Hall of Fame is proud to announce the class of 2014. Armistead C. Neely, of Atlanta; Randy Stephens, of Macon, Ga. and Judy Utley, of Greensboro, N.C. have been selected for induction into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. They will be inducted at the Hall of Fame Banquet at the USTA Southern Annual Meeting on Jan. 18, 2014.

Do you want to nominate someone for the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. Access our online nomination form.

For a list of all Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductees, click here.

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Armistead C. Neely
Veteran’s Tennis Spans Decades

Few players have had as significant an impact in tennis from junior to college to professional to adult competition than Atlanta’s Armistead C. Neely.

Neely’s many accomplishments span decades and age levels. Here are just a few of his credits: a member of the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team; never lost a No. 1 singles dual match in three years of SEC collegiate play; ranked No. 144 in the world by the ATP and fifteenth in the U.S. by the USTA; won 11 professional titles on five continents; appeared in three Grand Slams; has been a member of five winning ITF World Championship U.S. teams; and has earned 26 National Championship Gold Balls. In addition, he has notable tournament organizing credits, all of which has led him to be inducted into the Georgia Tennis and University of Florida Athletic Halls of Fame.

Known to his friends as “Armi,” he was born in Mobile, Ala. in 1947 but began playing tennis in Tampa, Fla. He won the three 18 & Under Singles Championships, two in the United States and one in Canada. He was undefeated in Florida high school competition his senior year.

Neely graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in English Literature. During his days on the Florida tennis team, he won two SEC singles titles and two doubles titles between 1967-69 at the No. 1 position. He was voted Outstanding Team Captain for all of Florida varsity sports in 1969 and was twice named an All-American player by the NCAA.

Upon graduating from college Neely joined the United States Army as a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. He was honorably discharged after serving for six years.

Starting in 1971, Neely began a seven-year pro career. Among the players he defeated were John Lloyd, Tom Gorman and Jose-Luis Clerc in singles. Playing with fellow Southern Tennis Hall of Famer Patrick DuPré, he defeated Jimmy Connors/Spencer Segura at the US Open. Other notable doubles victories came over Mark Cox/Cliff Drysdale, Manuel Orantes/Ion Tiriac and Anand and Vijay Amritraj. His 11 pro titles include the Welch Open Grass Court Championships, the Indonesian National Championships, the Zagreb Clay Court Championships and the Charleston (SC) Hard Court Championships. He played the US Open a dozen times, along with singles, doubles and mixed at Wimbledon, and singles and doubles at the French Open.

In 1971, Neely and Larry Turville co-founded the first international tennis satellite tour. Neely, who was president and co-director, calls the founding of this tour his proudest achievement in tennis. This ground-breaking players’ tour, or World Association of Tennis Champions, (eventually called the W.A.T.C.H Circuit), consisted of a membership of over 300 players from more than 30 countries. These events were the first to award ATP points for satellite competition and to establish a Masters satellite tour-ending event. Among the many players who played this tour were Johan Kriek, Andres Gomez, Tim and Tom Gullikson, plus Southern Tennis Hall of Famers Zan Guerry, Charlie Owens and Pat DuPré. Key supporters of his efforts to establish and expand this tour were Jack Kramer, Bill Riordan and Gladys Heldman. This tour that ran for seven years was the precursor and blue-print for today’s global professional satellite series of tournaments.

For four years, between 1977 and 1981, Neely was the Director of Tennis of the Alabama Crimson Tide program and coached the men’s team. Two of these teams reached a top 20 national ranking.

The next step in Neely’s career was managing tournaments. He has supervised or directed more than 50 professional and junior tournaments, along with USTA satellite tour stops in Florida and Texas. In 1984, he was selected to be the tournament director for the WCT Atlanta Grand Prix Championships by Lamar Hunt. The event drew more than 30,000 fans and was won by John McEnroe. Additionally, he has managed major tennis facilities in Atlanta including the Olympic Tennis Center used for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

In national senior play, he has won nine singles titles and 17 doubles titles at USTA National Championships in various age categories, along with playing on nine national teams in ITF International Team Cup play winning the event five times. He also has captured the ITF over 40 and over 50 World Doubles Championship and has been selected for USPTA National and Southern Player of the Year Awards.

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Randy Stephens
Tennis Leadership In Many Disciplines

Randy Stephens’ impact on Georgia and Southern tennis is so vast it’s difficult to jam his accomplishments into just one recap. Just his credits as President of numerous organizations should be enough to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Stephens has served as the President of USTA Southern, USTA Georgia (two terms), the Macon Tennis Association (two terms), the Georgia Professional Tennis Association (two terms) and the Southern Professional Tennis Association (two terms). He did not waltz into these posts; he served in numerous volunteer positions previously before taking the top spot.

This is the fourth hall of fame into which the Macon, Ga. resident will be inducted. In 1988, Stephens was inducted into the Georgia Tennis Professionals Hall of Fame and, in 2006, the same honor was bestowed on him by the USPTA/Southern Tennis Professionals Hall of Fame. In 2007 he was inducted into Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame.

Starting in 1989, he began volunteering for USTA Southern and continues to this day. For instance, his posts at USTA Southern have included Executive Vice President, Vice President and Secretary. He chaired the following committees: Tennis Professionals, Nominating, Patrons Foundation, Past Presidents, Building and Boys’ Ranking. Additionally, he was a member of the Hall of Fame Selection, Olympics Facilities, Community Development and Tennis Innovation Committees and served as Intersectional Team Coach and Girls’ 14 Ranker/Endorser. His service at other organizations follows the same path of working his way up the ladder with numerous years of dedication to the association.

At the National level, he has served as the USTA Southern Delegate and on numerous USTA committees, as well as Chairman of the Tennis Innovation, Men’s 25s Ranking and Wheelchair Committees and Vice Chairman of the Delegates Assembly, Tennis Innovation and Adult/Senior Competition Committees. He was also a member of the Executive, International, Davis Cup/Fed Cup/Olympic/Paralympic, Tennis Teachers Conference, Tennis Rules and Community Development Committees. 

On the international stage, Stephens was a member of the ITF Wheelchair Committee for four years.

His list of awards is also bountiful: Georgia Tennis Professional of the Year, 1981; Atlanta Tennis Professional of the Year, 1982; Georgia Tennis Professional of the Year, 1983; Georgia Tennis Association Education Merit Award, 1983; Georgia Tennis Professional of the Year, 1984; USPTA/Southern "Pride of the South" Award, 1985; USPTA/Southern Tennis Professional of the Year, 1986; Macon Tennis Association John Drew Smith Award, 1992; USTA Southern Jacobs Bowl Award, 2000; USTA Southern Charlie Morris Award, 2003; Macon Tennis Association Community Service Award, 2004; Georgia Tennis Association Ruth Lay Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009; USPTA/Southern  Division Senior Player of the Year Award, 2011; USPTA/Southern High School Coach of the Year, 2012.

A graduate of Georgia State University, Stephens was hired as the Tennis Director at Willow Springs Country Club in Roswell, Ga. From 1984-97 he worked as the city of Macon's Tennis Director.

More than 20 of his students played college tennis and received degrees from leading universities, including SEC, ACC, Ivy League and Pac-10 schools. He has served as the Junior Davis Cup Coach for USTA Georgia on two occasions, winning the Southern Championship both times. He served as the STA Intersectional Team Coach for the Girls’ and Boys’ 14s and the Girls’ and Boys’ 16s, winning the National Championship three times. He also served as the Tennis Director for Georgia Special Olympics and taught free Special Olympics and Wheelchair Tennis classes while in Macon.

Stephens was recognized as USPTA/Southern High School Coach of the Year. He helped lead the Stratford Academy Boys’ tennis team (Macon, Ga.) to an undefeated 2012 season, in which it won regional and state championships, while the Girls’ team earned a regional championship.

Stephens didn’t start hitting tennis balls until he was a Georgia State freshman. Still, he made the varsity tennis team his junior and senior years. He has been ranked by USTA Georgia as No. 11 in Men's Open Singles, No. 2 in Open Mixed Doubles,  No. 1 in Men's 35s, 45s, 50s and 55s Doubles, as well as No. 1 in 35s Mixed Doubles. In USTA Southern, he has been ranked No. 1 in Men's 35s, 45s and 55s Doubles, as well as #1 in 35s Mixed Doubles. In the USPTA, he was nationally ranked No. 11 in Men's Open Singles and No. 2 in both Men's Open Doubles and Open Mixed Doubles.

Currently, Stephens continues to serve tennis in a myriad of posts. He is on the USTA NJTL and Higher Education Committee. He is a Southern Tennis Patrons Foundation and Georgia Tennis Patrons Foundation Trustee and volunteers on the USTA Southern Nominating Committee. Additionally, he is the Chairman for Past Presidents Committee for USTA Southern and USTA Georgia.

A financial advisor for Merrill Lynch, he has a son, Clint, and two daughters, Lindsey & Holly.

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Judy Utley
Through the Ranks, Utley Served Tennis With Love

Tennis has always had a place in the heart of Judy Utley, as a player and as an administrator looking for ways to improve the sport. She is the recipient of the Jacobs Bowl and the Charlie Morris Award, the two highest honors given to USTA Southern volunteers.

Since the beginning of her career, Utley has been recognized for her extraordinary heart, dedication and contributions to tennis. She received the 1989 NCTA Adult/Senior Tennis Council Award. In 1997, she earned the USTA League Award from North Carolina. She received the District Service Award in 1990 and 1997. In 2011, she was inducted into the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.

An avid USTA League and recreational player, she started her work off the court in Greensboro, N.C. during the mid-1980s. She was instrumental in the creation and development of the Gate City Women’s Tennis League as well as the Carlton Harris, Jr. Tennis League. She served for a number of years on the Greensboro Tennis Association Board of Directors, eventually serving as Co-president.

She continued to excel with her volunteer work serving as North Carolina’s State League Coordinator from 1988-1990 and moved her way through the ranks of USTA North Carolina as Secretary and Vice President during the late 1990s. In 2000, Utley became the President of the state association.

As USTA North Carolina Past President, Utley continued her volunteer work on several North Carolina committees, serving as chair on many. The Strategic Planning Committee benefited from Utley’s marketing mind when she served as chair in 2002 and 2004. She became a member and Chair of the North Carolina Tennis Foundation Board of Directors serving from 2002 until the present. She was actively involved in different committees from 2002 to 2009 including the capital campaign to fund the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.  In 2004, as chair of the Foundation Building Committee, Utley found the building that was purchased and currently used as the state office and home of the North Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame.  Most recently she served on the edit team to research Tennis in North Carolina, Celebrating our History, written by Troupe Noonan.

Utley used her love of league tennis to promote the program on the Sectional level. She served as the chair of the USTA Southern Adult League Committee from 1993-2000. In 1996, she received the Gerrie Rothwell Award which recognizes a volunteer for his/her service to USTA League tennis.

Serving as USTA Southern Secretary in 2001-02 followed by a term of Vice President, Utley became the section’s Executive Vice President in 2005 and then was elected President for the 2007-2008 term. Under her leadership, the Section experienced tremendous growth in every aspect including USTA League play, Jr. Team Tennis and overall membership. She initiated projects, such as the revision of the USTA Southern Bylaws, that impacted the Section for years to come.

Utley has not kept her talents restricted to just North Carolina and the Southern Section. On the National level, she continued with her passion for leadership in adult league play. She served as a member of the USTA League Committee and chair of USTA League Regulations Subcommittee. Additionally, she served as a member of Learning and Leadership Development Committee for six years.  From 2009-2010, she was the USTA Section Delegate for Southern and a member of the USTA Executive Committee. Other National positions included two terms as a Council Chair and a member of the Advisory Group on Committees.  She currently serves as Council Chair Coordinator and a member of the Advisory Group on Committees. In 2009, she received the prestigious USTA Barbara Williams Leadership Award.

She resides in Greensboro, N.C. with her husband, Johnny. They have two children, Krista and Wes, and six grandchildren.

 

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