2020 USTA Eastern Family of the Year Recipient: The Perry Family

Scott Sode | January 25, 2021

The Perry Family of Endwell, N.Y.—John and Lynn and their children, Michael and Christina—have been named USTA Eastern’s 2020 Tennis Family of the Year for serving as exceptional ambassadors of the game in their community.


It all started with a mixed doubles group. Neither John nor Lynn picked up a racquet with any regularity growing up—“I probably played tennis a grand total of ten times,” John estimates. But the married couple began playing mixed doubles together socially and quickly found a family in the sport. They have been hitting the court ever since, for over 30 years. (“And let me tell you, it’s incredible how awful you can still be after playing that long, at least in my shoes,” John says with a laugh.)


As a result of their parents’ enthusiasm for the game, the Perry children were introduced to tennis at a young age. Their initiation was relatively informal: John and Lynn would bring Michael and Christina to the park, put racquets in their hands and toss them a ball for a little while. When they saw that the kids were enjoying the casual lessons, the elder Perrys decided to bring them to the Binghamton Tennis Center for more formalized 10-and-under  instruction.


“I’ve always been a believer that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing to the best of your ability,” John explains. 


Both Michael and Christina would go on to maximize that ability. They excelled in local tournaments as preteens and stood out on their high school tennis teams. 

Michael played at a varsity level when he was just 13 years old and eventually made the high school state championships at the National Tennis Center three times—as a sophomore, junior and senior. After graduating, he played for Division I school Gardner-Webb (in Boiling Springs, N.C.) all four years of college. (Michael recently received his M.B.A. from Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.) 


Christina also competed at a varsity level very early. Her team went undefeated for a couple years and won sectionals several times, and she too advanced to the state championships. Then, during her senior year, she tore her ACL in the middle of a match, and her high school tennis career abruptly ended. “It was a huge growing experience for her,” John recalls. “What it made her do is refocus. She decided, ‘I’m going to pick a college solely based on academics.’ And she ended up playing Division II tennis at Le Moyne College [in Syracuse, N.Y.].”


Lynn underscores the impact of her daughter’s senior-year experience, noting, “Christina recently graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy. So [taking that path] goes back to tearing the ACL and [her admiration for] who was taking care of her. It’s full circle for her, really.”


Michael and Christina still play to this day; Michael recently played on a 5.0 USTA Leagues team that advanced to nationals. Lynn, too, continues to be active in USTA Leagues. Her 3.5 teams have advanced to sectionals on multiple occasions.


“At first I thought, ‘Oh this is way too competitive,’” Lynn says. “But after the kids went to college, I started playing at the tennis center once or twice a week, so I decided to join USTA Leagues. [Binghamton Tennis Center] runs really good programs, and it’s just a fun thing to do.”


It’s just one of the many ways Lynn stays active in the tennis community. She still bakes cookies for the senior high school tennis team every season, even though her kids have been out of school for seven years. (“I still know [some of] the moms and the coach,” she notes.) And she volunteers her time to school clinics and team fundraisers. “We have gained so many friends [through tennis], like [Binghamton Tennis Center] owners Michael and Kris Starke as well as our kids’ coach for 15 years, Collin Crawford and his wife, Courtney,” she says. “The game has really grown our family—and brought us closer together.”


For John, one of the greatest benefits of tennis is that it has ultimately added “dimension” to his family members and strengthened their character. “I think the best thing we’ve done [in the tennis community] is try to be good examples,” he says. “My kids never threw or smashed their racquets. [As a family] we’ve tried to be people that other people see as decent sportsmen. We enjoy the game, and we enjoy the people we play with.”


Read more about our 2020 award recipients:


Lifetime Achievement Award: Ingrid Rehwinkel

Tennis Man of the Year: Daniel Burgess

Tennis Woman of the Year: Adrienne Alteri

Tennis Organization of the Year: Empire Tennis Academy

Junior Courage Award: Gavin Vander Schaaf

Adult Courage Award: Mary-Margaret Sohns

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