Tennis grows strongest at its grass roots, which is why every year at the Annual Meeting, the USTA celebrates those who have helped to grow and develop the sport in their community. The 2013 honorees came from all backgrounds and all sections to be recognized for their outstanding dedication to growing tennis at a local level.
They were honored at the 2014 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference, March 15-17, at the Omni La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, Calif.
Meet the USTA Annual Award honorees (click on the headlines in bold to view video):
The Stingley Family: Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award
The Stingley family of St. Paul, Minn., was presented with The Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award, given annually to a family that volunteers its time to promote amateur tennis, emphasizing the theme that tennis is a family game.
The Stingley family and tennis go hand-in-hand in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Tony, his wife Ronda, adult kids Marc and David, Marc's wife Lisa and granddaughter Langston all are active in the sport.
Tony Stingley had been involved in tennis for more than 40 years in a variety of capacities, including playing in the local adult league, officiating and volunteering his efforts for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day and at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Ronda has been playing USTA League since 1978 and recently developed a nutrition curriculum for the St. Paul-based Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center’s Tennis2College program.
David, 23, grew up playing USTA Jr. Team Tennis, claiming the 12 and Under Championship in 2000. Like his parents, he volunteers his time in the sport, including at the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center (FWTEC), the Eau Claire YMCA Jr. Program and Special Olympics area and state championships.
Marc, 34, is one of only 30 people in the world who hold a PTR Master of Tennis Certification and the second person in the USTA Northern section. He teaches kids on a daily basis as a high school coach at The Blake School and, as a volunteer at FWTEC, oversaw the completion of the first permanent 60-foot court in the USTA Northern Section. Lisa, who met Mark at FWTEC, has been a USTA League player – and a frequent captain – since the late 1990s. Langston, Marc and Lisa’s daughter, has herself become a familiar face around FWTEC and even brought grandpa Tony to her daycare program so that he could teach the other kids how to play tennis.
“When people think about tennis in the Twin Cities they always think of the Stingley Family,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “Their long-term commitment to tennis has made a tremendous impact on the St. Paul and Minneapolis community that will be felt for decades to come.”
Christine Beck: NJTL Founders’ Service Award
Christine Beck of Newtown Square, Pa., was presented with the USTA National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Founders’ Service Award, recognizing an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education, delivers outstanding service to underserved children with free or low-cost tennis, and provides education and life-skills programming.
“I could not be more honored to receive this prestigious award,” said Beck. “I never imagined 44 years ago when we first decided to start the Philadelphia NJTL chapter that we could have helped guide and mentor so many inner-city kids from the Philly area down the right path.”
Beck met NJTL co-founder Arthur Ashe on the junior tennis tour, and after discovering that they shared a birthday, began a lifelong friendship based on their mutual commitment to use tennis to influence lives and open doors to countless underprivileged children nationwide. To that end, Beck and her husband, Leif, co-founded the Philadelphia NJTL in 1970. It now operates under the umbrella of the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education and reaches thousands of children each year.
“Christine has a tremendous love for the game, for education and for impacting the lives of children,” said Dan Faber, Executive Director, USTA Serves. “It shows in how much time and devotion she’s put into her volunteer work as co-founder of the Philadelphia NJTL chapter back in 1970. Christine has positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of children, and her legacy reaches far beyond Philadelphia.”
Seniors’ Service Award: Dick Walther
Dick Walther of Summit, N.J., was presented with the annual Seniors’ Service Award, given annually on the basis of the recipient’s willingness, cooperation and participation – either in play or organizational work – to work for the betterment of senior tennis competition.
Just over a decade ago, tennis activity in Summit, N.J., a suburban community of 20,000, was virtually non-existent. Six of the city’s 16 public courts had been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they were deemed dangerous and unplayable. The gates to those courts were padlocked shut.
When the town’s Board of Recreation announced plans to demolish the tennis courts, a group of concerned citizens, including Walther, now 91, formed a grass-roots organization, the Summit Tennis Association, to re-establish tennis in the area. Since then, tennis has continued to grow in the community, with more than 9,000 people playing on the Summit courts last year.
Programs for all ages and abilities are now being run year-round with programming for elementary school students, middle school students, adults, special needs, families, high performance players and seniors.
“Dick truly embodies what it means to be an advocate for our sport. Thanks to his efforts on and off the court, thousands of players of all ages and abilities have been able to enjoy the sport for a lifetime,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “We are proud to recognize him for all that he has given to tennis and especially his efforts in getting seniors to pick up the sport for the first time or come back to the game.”
The City of Mission Viejo, Calif.: Brad Parks Award
The city of Mission Viejo, Calif., was presented with the Brad Parks Award, established in 2002 to recognize outstanding contributions to the sport of wheelchair tennis. Named after San Clemente resident Brad Parks, a pioneer of wheelchair tennis and the first wheelchair tournament champion, the award is presented annually and honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game.
The city of Mission Viejo has long been involved in wheelchair tennis in some shape or form. What started out as a local tennis camp for young athletes in the area has grown into an international camp for the top junior wheelchair athletes in the world. And in November 2013, Mission Viejo became the first U.S. city to host the Wheelchair Tennis Masters, attracting nearly 40 top players from around the globe to the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion.
“The City of Mission Viejo has been a strong supporter of wheelchair sports and of tennis in particular since the 1980s,” said Steve Bell, of the City of Mission Viejo Recreation and Community Services. “We are truly honored to be recognized for this by receiving the Brad Parks Award. What makes this the most special to us is that Brad has played – and continues to play – a huge role in our efforts.”
“The City of Mission Viejo’s commitment as a host to numerous international wheelchair events has set a new standard of professionalism that is unrivaled in the sport of wheelchair tennis in the U.S.,” said Dan James, USTA Wheelchair Tennis National Manager. “Mission Viejo truly has become a home to wheelchair tennis and is very deserving of the Brad Parks Award.”
Centercourt Athletic Club: Organization Member of the Year
The Centercourt Athletic Club in Chatham, N.J., was presented with the USTA Organization Member of the Year Award, which is given annually to an organization that provides outstanding service to its members and to the local community.
Centercourt Athletic Club is the premier location for both indoor and outdoor tennis in New Jersey. The club features eight climate-controlled indoor hard courts, 12 outdoor Har-Tru courts and four platform tennis courts, and it was the first facility of eight courts or more in the U.S. to paint permanent 36- and 60-foot blended lines on all its outdoor courts.
The facility offers extensive junior tennis programming that serves more than 400 students per session, including a high-performance academy that specializes in the development of competitive players and four levels of daily youth tennis classes that service more than 200 students ages 3-10.
“The club’s mission is to help every student-athlete we train realize his or her full potential, athletically and academically,” said Clay Bibbee, founder and managing partner of the Centercourt Athletic Club. “We believe that their tennis experiences will help our young athletes become leaders on and off the court. Our players respect the game, their peers, parents, environment and coaches. Enrolled players are coached to not only become great players but hard-working, self-sufficient individuals.”