The United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced the 10 national finalists for the 2012 USTA Starfish Award. This honor recognizes exceptional high school coaches who implement a "no-cut" policy, welcoming all interested students to be part of the school tennis team. This award is in its eighth year of existence and has honored 14 recipients since 2005. The recipient of the 2012 USTA Starfish National Award will be announced in early October.
The finalists for the 2012 Starfish Award are:
- Robert Brown of Bluffton High School in Bluffton, S.C.
- Gail Champion of Franklin High School in Brookfield, Wis.
- Carla Choate of Beebe High School in Beebe, Ark.
- Philip Cook of Beatrice High School in Beatrice, Neb.
- Jaime Kaplan of Stratford Academy in Macon, Ga.
- Laurie Martin of Xavier College Preparatory in Tempe, Ariz.
- Mary Moore of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Del.
- Donna Stauffer of Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Mo.
- Michelle Topf of Denver East High School in Denver, Colo.
- Terry Valdez of East High School in Wenatchee, Wash.
There are more than 3,625 coaches nationwide implementing this initiative, and some programs have more than 100 official high school tennis team members. The coaches of these teams serve as positive role models and make a difference by spending the extra time and effort to ensure that young players experience the fun and fulfillment of representing their high school tennis team.
To qualify for the USTA Starfish Award, coaches must be: currently implementing a no-cut policy on their tennis teams, currently registered with the USTA as a "no-cut coach," and be coaching tennis for a minimum of five years. Final winners are determined by a select panel of USTA committee members, staff, volunteers and career no-cut coaches.