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A Colorado native, Joan Birkland grew up across the street from Denver’s City Park, which is where her tennis career began. As a junior, she took lessons from Denver Country Club tennis professional and inaugural Colorado Tennis Hall of Famer Jack Cella.


Joan was blessed with incredible athletic ability, excelling in tennis, golf and basketball. Despite the lack of sporting opportunities available to women, she went beyond what was expected of girls in sports in her day.


She took up golf after meeting her husband, Ormand, who she married while attending school at Colorado University. Her basketball career began during an era when there were very few women's teams. She played on an AAU basketball team called the Denver Viners.



Joan continued competing in tennis and golf as an adult, twice holding the state golf and tennis titles simultaneously. She captured 21 major Colorado and Intermountain tennis titles in all, six singles and 15 doubles crowns. She often partnered with other Colorado Tennis Hall of Famers, Phyllis Lockwood and Jack Cella, in doubles and mixed doubles.


In addition, for more than 10 years, Joan was one of Colorado's most dominant female golfers. In the 1960s, she won seven Colorado stroke and match play golf championships.


She has been inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, and the Colorado Tennis Hall of Fame.


In addition to her athletic success, Joan was a local and national leader and pioneer in the promotion of girls and women in sports. For nearly 40 years, she was the leader of Sportswomen of Colorado (serving as both Executive Director and Volunteer Leader). Sportswomen of Colorado has recognized thousands of Colorado girls and women who have excelled in their sport or who have made a contribution to girls and women in sport.


Through her own example and initiative, she provided countless opportunities for women of all ages to participate and benefit from sports. 





Without Marie Robertson, there would be no Wyoming Tennis Association (WYOTA).


Marie, Bob Ranck (Jackson, WY) and Dennis Rafferty (Cheyenne, WY) were the original organizers of the association. They wrote the bylaws and set the standards by which WYOTA would operate, and they were precise and deliberate with these proceedings.


Marie was a very generous woman with her time and talents. Before computer programs simplified the process, she would meticulously calculate all the rankings and ratings for WYOTA. She would spend hours working hard and going through reams of paper printouts before asking the Wyoming Board of Directors to look over them and give suggestions.


Marie led Board meetings with detailed prepared agendas, all having to do with promoting and growing the game of tennis. She brought in Executive Director Sheri Carlisle, whom she had worked with on the Girl Scouts Board of Directors, and she also ran the Wyoming Open for several years. For several years she was the Wyoming District League Coordinator.


During Marie’s tenure, tournaments were run without any computer programs. Everything was done by hand; entries, money collections, T-shirt sizes, draws, scheduling, and all the communications needed to arrange court times and locations. Often, there could be as many as 150 players registered to play, so it was a very time consuming and complicated task.


Marie was also a very active participant in tournaments. She played a great game of singles and played well into her 60’s. She also played doubles. She supported all the sanctioned tournaments in the state and was a promoter of “Volvo Tennis” (now USTA team tennis) when it started in Wyoming. She was a team captain and took a team to Nationals at the senior level.


Marie was generous with her knowledge and always willing to share it. She was always willing to acknowledge a person’s accomplishments and achievements. She had a way of getting people to think things through logically to find a compromise. She would cock her head, look at you and say, “Let’s think this through”. She was a mentor by her example, her attitude, her wisdom and calm demeanor.


Marie supported her husband, Rob, and his ballroom dance group and she was a great cook. She shared her homes both in Casper and Jackson with her friends, teammates and tournament participants. Many good times were had at the Robertson households.


Marie loved the game and is greatly missed by her Wyoming tennis family.





2021 Family of Year: Buckingham Family; Boise, ID

Presented annually to a family within the USTA Intermountain Section who has exemplified the benefits of tennis as a family recreational sport and has contributed to their tennis community in a significant way. Section winners are submitted to the USTA for the National Family of the Year Award.


2021 Nikos Ridle Award: Cole Brashear; Las Vegas, NV

Presented annually to a junior tennis player within the USTA Intermountain Section who exemplifies the spirit of tennis through their activities on and off the court. This award is given in memory of Nikos Ridle, a nationally ranked junior player from Billings, Montana, who was killed in an automobile accident at age 19. Section winners are submitted to the USTA for the Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award.


2021 Barbara Clark Diversity & Inclusion Award: Dolores Larsen; Weiser, ID

Initiated in 2000, this award is given annually to honor an individual in USTA Intermountain who has made a significant contribution to the diverse and adaptive populations and communities through tennis. 


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