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Episode #13: All about USTA League with Chris Walling & Graham Bucciantini

The most popular tennis program in the world – USTA League – draws more than a half-million American adults. What makes League so popular? What was the reason to put year-end NTRP ratings on hold? What is the plan for Southern Sectionals in 2021? USTA Southern Director, Adult Tennis Chris Walling answers these questions and more. For a grassroots perspective, Graham Bucciantini, the Local League Coordinator for Jackson, MS, gives us a report from the trenches. We introduce our health benefit tip while giving shout-outs to junior Sophia Miller, of Birmingham, AL, and One Love Tennis in Wilmington, NC.



October 8, 2020
Our podcast features one of the USTA Southern staffers: 
Claire Bartlett, Tennis Service Representative for Tennessee. Bartlett was an outstanding junior player and competed for the University of Florida and the University of Virginia. She hosts a video podcast on Youtube called Me and My RacquetPage Love, of Nutri Fit Sport Therapy, serves on the USTA Sport Science Committee and guided ATP and WTA players with their nutrition. Also featured are junior standout Elliott Parker, of Nashville, TN, and the Acadiana Community Tennis Association in Lafayette, LA.

Oct. 5, 2020
In a special episode, we welcome
 USTA, Director, Player Development Martin Blackman, who talks about the 2020 US Open along with the rising American pros and top Southern talent. Since 2015, he has been responsible for identifying and developing the next generation of world-class American tennis players. Blackman, who won the USTA Boys’ 16s National Championship in 1986, went on to become a member of two NCAA Championship teams at Stanford University. He continued his play at the ATP level from 1989 to 1995, reaching a career-high of No. 158.

Sept. 24, 2020
Eric Voges is a long-time mainstay of Chattanooga, TN, tennis. He has a 33-year history as varsity tennis coach of McCallie School. He leads USTA Tennessee as president after many years of volunteering in various levels of the USTA associations. Voges played tennis at the University of Tennessee. Sue Hites, of Atlanta, played professionally after earning a tennis scholarship at the University of San Diego. Currently she works as the ACEing Autism Program Director after a long-term coaching career in California. Also featured are junior Seena Cuddapah, of Marietta, GA, and the Ashland (KY) Tennis Center

Sept. 10, 2020
With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting tennis pros, facilities and other industry professionals hard, USTA Southern stepped up and decided to share more than $800,000 to those affected. The Southern Cares initiative has sent an average of $876.55 to 917 teaching pros, facilities, organizers, tournament directors, officials, media and others in nine Southern States. USTA Southern President & CEO Bonnie Vandegrift, along with our podcast’s audio producer/teaching pro Kyle Blackburn and Charlotte Tennis Association’s Carla O’Connor, talk about the impact of the grants. Also featured: junior William Wimberly, of Summerville, SC, and Family Biz Builder NJTL, of Tunica, MS.


August 27, 2020
With the US Open starting this month, Irina Falconi - who rose to No. 63 in the world - talks about the tournament and her Tennis.com podcast. Current WTA professional Falconi won the WTA 2016 Bogotá singles title, appeared in three WTA doubles finals and reached the round of 32 at the US Open and Roland Garros. The Portoviejo, Ecuador native attended Georgia Tech for two years under coach Bryan Shelton. Hosted by Sam Crenshaw. Also featured: junior John David McCrory, of Lafayette, LA, and volunteer and USTA Georgia Executive Vice President Mark Botsch, of Atlanta.

August 13, 2020
Noted sports author Robert Weintraub of Decatur, GA, talks about his new book: The Divine Miss Marble: A Life of Tennis, Fame, and Mystery. Alice Marble, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, won the US Open singles, doubles and mixed titles each four times, along with six Wimbledon crowns. Also featured: junior Evan Duggal, of Lexington, KY, and volunteer and USTA Georgia President Ashley Massengale, of Atlanta.

July 30, 2020
This episode focuses on Kentucky with Lexington WTA’s Tournament Director Jon Sanders. Signed up for the newly formed event in August are Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka and Coco Gauff. Also interviewed is former NBA and University of Kentucky basketball star Kyle Macy, who is now a tennis coach and top-level senior player. Also featured: junior Masaki Posey, of Union City, GA, and volunteer James McKissick, of Greenville, SC.

July 16, 2020
USTA Past President Katrina Adams 
is the featured interviewee. Among more than a century of USTA presidents, she is the only person to have played professional tour tennis, is an African American and served two terms. In an extensive interview, former Atlanta resident Adams talks about recovering from COVID-19, the upcoming US Open, the NJTL she runs in Harlem in New York City and other topics. Hosted by Sam Crenshaw. Also featured: junior Nicholas Heng, of Madison, Alabama, and volunteer Anna Mercer-McLean, of Wilson, North Carolina.

July 2, 2020
This episode's guests are USTA South Carolina Past President Ernie James, who talks about growing tennis in his hometown of Florence along with his passion for officiating. Dr. Dale Yake of PT Solutions, of Atlanta, updates us on the current COVID-19 situation and the great health benefits of playing tennis. We highlight junior Anna Kay Johnston, of Little Rock, AR, and volunteer Courtney Dugas, of Lafayette, LA.

June 18, 2020
Alison Riske and Monica Puig talk about playing at the Credit One Bank Invitational in Charleston, SC. Nashville's Riske is ranked No. 19 in the WTA Rankings and Puig, of Puerto Rico, is best known for winning the 2016 Olympics Singles Gold Medal. They discuss getting through the break in tennis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also featured are junior Aspen Wooten, of Eads, Tennessee, and volunteer Brian Pillar, of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

June 4, 2020
This week's guests include USTA Southern Adult League Chair Helen Martin, of Columbus, GA, who talked about her love for USTA League and the cancellation of the 2020 league sectionals. Charlotte, NC's Kelly Flouhouse, a dedicated wheelchair tennis player and advocate is also interviewed. We highlighted junior Coy Simon, of Charleston, SC, and former USTA Kentucky President Rainey Johns.

May 21, 2020
The debut episode features NCAA Chief Medical Officer and USTA Vice President Dr. Brian Hainline. In an extensive interview, Hainline focused on shepherding sports through the COVID-19 pandemic, playing tennis safely, collegiate sports and the health benefits of tennis. Hosted by Sam Crenshaw. Also featured: junior Jenna Thompson, of Charlotte, NC, and volunteer James Oscar Bell, of Greenville, MS.

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