Middle States

2022 MS Hall of Fame Inductee: Berry Campagna



Berry Campagna (1930-2021)

 

A good official must know the rules of the game. He or she must be firm, fair and dedicated. They must quickly find answers, and they need to command respect. 

 

Berry Campagna was the epitome of these things. Known for her work as an outstanding official, she was also dedicated to growing tennis opportunities for anyone and everyone in her community.

 

Campagna’s introduction to tennis began in her hometown of New Orleans. As a kid, her father played tennis frequently and encouraged her to do the same. That modeling sparked her interest in the game, and eventually led to her joining the high school tennis team.

 

Campagna became an avid player and as she got older, she competed in tournaments and team tennis events. Campagna also donated her time as a coach — beginning in New Orleans and continuing when she and her family moved to the Pittsburgh area in the 1970s.

 

She thrived on sharing tennis with young players.

“Coaching tennis was an opportunity for her to share her talent with others, especially kids,” Campagna’s daughter, Michelle Weltz, said. “She was a very loving, kind, selfless person. Everything she did for tennis, she did for someone else.” 

 

As Campagna made Pennsylvania her home, the impact she had on tennis grew. She coached a girls tennis team in Greensburg, she played USTA interdistricts, and captained teams at Monroeville Racquet Club.

 

Campagna’s officiating career began at one of the world’s most well-known events. Kelle Cunningham, the Tennis Service Representative for Allegheny Mountain District (AMD), recalls a popular story about Campagna. 

“Years ago, the US Open did not hire enough officials to call lines,” Cunningham explained. “There were times they would ask if any of the spectators were interested in taking a course and becoming an official. Berry raised her hand, took a one-hour course and started that day. For more than 30 years after that, she officiated all the tournaments in the Pittsburgh area.”

 

Campagna embraced her new role in the tennis world, making an immediate impact in AMD and Middle States. She organized the Allegheny Mountain District Umpire Association and served as the first chair, and later became the Association's President. She served as Middle States Girls Ranking Official for 14 years, chaired the Adult Competition Committee, and was the energy behind the first Middle States 2001 Extravaganza in Hershey, Pa.

 

“Anytime I had a question about a ruling I would go to her,” said Rochelle Seilhammer, a friend of Campagna’s and a longtime Pittsburgh area coach and official. “Everyone would go to her because she knew that book front to back. I wouldn’t have any other person help me with tournaments because when Berry was involved, everything ran like clockwork.”

  

Campagna was recognized for her impact. In 1999, she received the Nicholas E. Powel Award — the highest national award you can give to an official. This distinguished award recognizes outstanding officials at the local level, deeming them the backbone of officiating in the USTA. She received her award where it all began: at the US Open. 

 

Then in 2001, Campagna received the Mangan Award, which is USTA Middle States’ highest recognition of achievement and service. The award cites “her significant contributions to the game of tennis” and states that “her skill at interpreting and enforcing the rules of tennis is exceeded only by her love of the game itself.”

 

Campagna’s dedication to serving her community, and tennis, touched all who knew her. 

 

“There aren’t enough adjectives to describe her,” said Lois Huggins, an official and longtime friend of Campagna. “She was a friend to the tennis world, and to the umpire world.”

 

After battling breast cancer, Campagna actively raised funds and held events benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation for roughly 20 years. Campagna and her daughter sold tennis apparel and accessories, giving all of the proceeds to the foundation. She also organized a ProAm event, helping to benefit a cause so near and dear to her heart. 

 

Wheelchair tennis also became a passion of Campagna’s. She was the Wheelchair Tennis Committee chair in her district and organized numerous wheelchair tennis events in her area.  

 

Her selflessness, desire to see others succeed, and eagerness to give back are all ways people describe Campagna. Many also described her as “like a mother” because she was always there for them. Someone who always knew the answer, was easy to talk to, and could give the history of Pittsburgh tennis if you only had the time.

 

“She was dedicated to training officials and seeing that they learn how to do their job properly,” Huggins said. “Then she would monitor: making sure they got work, did it properly, and hired them when she was a referee.”

 

Seilhammer echoed those sentiments.

 

“She was kind of like a mother to me,” she said. “She was there for me when I needed help and I miss her dearly.”

 

“Berry was the heart and soul of officiating in Allegheny Mountain District,” Huggins added. “She was dedicated, professional, and truly cared about doing a good job. She always wanted to make sure things were being done right. She was the ultimate local official.” 

 

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    November 11, 2020
    Players and opponents in the Central Pa. tennis community say Chuck Harnden has great sportsmanship and perspective. He can pinpoint almost exactly where that mentality came from: his time as a Recon Team Leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Read More
  • Overcoming Setbacks
    March 16, 2021
    You never quite know what someone is dealing with behind the scenes, and Mark Haffner shows that. Over the years, the Pittsburgh-based coach has battled through health challenge after health challenge — defeating each one to return to the court. Read More
  • Remembering Tribit Green
    February 01, 2021
    A local coach, volunteer and community advocate in the Philadelphia area, Tribit E. Green Jr. will be remembered in the community for his passion for tennis and his impact on wheelchair athletes, kids, and many others with special needs. Green passed away on September 27, 2020 at age 78. Read More
  • Paying it Forward
    November 08, 2022
    “Last year, our tennis family decided that it was time to give back,” said local tennis advocate Bobbie Campbell. “We all picked a month, and chose a cause near and dear to our hearts.” The idea came about as Campbell, her husband Steve, and her group of tennis friends and teammates from central Pennsylvania got together to celebrate a group member’s birthday. The goal? Play some tennis, and do some brainstorming about ways to make a positive community impact. Read More
  • Tennis Tips with Brengle
    December 13, 2018
    How does Madison Brengle approach some of the same tennis issues that you have? Check out some of her tips, going through questions that amateur and professional players face, alike. Read More
  • Chris Jones
    August 14, 2018
    Chris Jones says that when he began playing tennis 20 years ago, he could barely put the ball in play. Oh, how things change. Since becoming involved with USTA in 2006, Jones has evolved into one of the most well-respected and successful captains in Middle States. Read More
  • A Way To Play
    December 08, 2021
    Whether you are looking to get involved in intro programs, tournaments, leagues, community events, or becoming a volunteer, there is a tennis opportunity for you! Read More
  • Leaning on Experience
    September 16, 2020
    When the 2019 USTA League Tennis Season started, Captain Ellah Nze knew she had a strong team. But strong enough to win a national championship? The 5.0 ladies team from Philadelphia relied on their talent and team experience from playing in college, USTA League and Tournaments, which helped them pull off a National Championship win. Read More
  • Growing up in Puerto Rico, Gigi Fernandez says she did not have very many role models who were female athletes. She took it into her own hands to change that for future generations. Read More
  • Best Time to Play is Now
    September 04, 2020
    Healthy. Safe. Physical. If you haven't played tennis, now is the time to try. Now more than ever, it's so important to stay active and healthy. Enter, tennis. Read More
  • Mercer County is hosting its Tennis Hall of Fame Ceremony for the Class of 2020 on Friday, June 10, at the Boathouse at Mercer Lake. Each of the inductees is influential in the tennis community — not only in the New Jersey area but all over Middle States. The class includes Michael D. Cremeans, Gwen Guidice, Elinor "Ellie" Kraut and Jon Morris Kraut on this honor. Read More
  • The Power of Tennis
    June 13, 2022
    After battling cancer for seven years, Elaine Boswell tried to find the right words to describe her journey. She wouldn’t have survived the journey, she says, without tennis. Today, she’s cancer-free and appreciating every moment of it. Boswell had a mission to spread awareness for cancer by creating an organization called Tennis for Teal, with her friend Nan Barash. The organization donates all proceeds directly to Ovarian Cancer research. Read More
  • A Welcoming Sport
    June 30, 2022
    The Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association (PLTA) is making tennis even more open in Philadelphia. As the busy summer season is now underway, the organization is preparing for the return of its annual Philadelphia Open. Read More
  • Making an Impact
    March 21, 2021
    Women’s History Month is a fitting time to think about Ellen Williams. After all, there are very few people with a volunteer history so memorable. Williams, from New Jersey, has been heavily involved with USTA tennis since the mid-1970s. She’s become known as a Tournament Director and avid player, especially making an impact as a coordinator for Willingboro Parks & Recreation Department and President of South Jersey Tennis Club Community Tennis Association. Read More
  • Making History
    October 13, 2022
    What better way to close in on the end of the tennis season than by making program history? The Reading High School Red Knights defeated the three-time defending champions from Conrad Weiser, 3-2, crowning them county champions. The team proudly hoisted the BCIAA trophy over their heads for the first time in school history. Read More
  • Known as a tennis historian to those in the tennis community, Don Royer is making history of his own. Since beginning tennis at Manheim Tennis Club 73 years ago, Don has been a non-stop advocate for the game he loves. On October 20, he was inducted into the Middle States Hall of Fame for his dedication to the game of tennis through his play, volunteerism, and tournament organization. Read More
  • Big Break
    January 26, 2023
    For years, Lauren Steinert heard people give her some of the same advice: “It’s tennis or music.” Today, the standout tennis player and coach is also touring with Fiddler on the Roof as part of the show’s cast members. As for her love for music and tennis? Neither has taken a backseat. Read More
  • Norman Bloom began playing tennis more than 60 years ago. But even after six decades, he’s never been more excited about the game. Read More
  • Playing with a Passion
    September 18, 2018
    Margarita Sadovnikova rarely stops smiling. But don’t let that fool you. On the tennis court, she’s coming after you. The tennis-loving Sadovnikova currently lives in the Philadelphia area, about 5,000 miles from where she grew up in Russia. Read More
  • Finding Good Health
    June 01, 2019
    It was only 10 years ago, but Melissa Culhane felt like a different person. “I was 200-plus pounds and just not all that healthy,” said Culhane, who lives in the Pittsburgh, Pa. area. “I got into a beginner cardio class. It completely changed my life.” Read More
  • Only a few years ago, Kathi Rees couldn’t imagine herself as a tennis coach. Let alone, a state championship-winning tennis coach. Read More
  • A Growing Legend
    February 28, 2019
    Dick Blakinger knows tennis is timeless. The 96-year-old continues to prove it to others. Read More
  • The Right Mindset
    September 21, 2020
    What separates the top tennis players from the rest of the pack? It’s usually not technique or coaching. USTA Middle States' Junior Development Program Coordinator, Seth Walrath, dives into how the best players stand out by how they prepare physically and mentally, and that’s what pulls them through in close matches. Read More
  • Staying Creative
    August 05, 2020
    Players and organizers from NJTL of Trenton are used to its courts filled with kids having fun and playing tennis. But as COVID-19 took over in the spring, organizers had to find their creativity. Read More
  • Call it team tennis, but with higher stakes. Tennis friends Marci Nelligan, Alyce James and Vy Banh are doing their part to fight COVID-19. Read More
  • A Man with Many Hats
    October 14, 2020
    David Killian is now known in tennis circles around Philadelphia for his time running professional tennis events in the area, as well as for serving as President and Tournament Director at Philadelphia Liberty Tennis Association (PLTA). Read More
  • League captain Kathy Radick, who began organizing teams more than 10 years ago, has demonstrated exceptional leadership with the teams she captains. Because of her overall impact and the feedback of local players, opponents and coordinators, Radick was named the USTA Middle States Captain of the Month for July. Read More
  • Renee Lee has been a standout tennis player for most of her life. She grew up playing tennis with her family in Holmdel, NJ., played Club Tennis at Rutgers University and now plays in USTA and WTT leagues. Now during this pandemic, she finds herself in a different type of battle — working on the COVID-19 vaccine as a Sr. Statistical Programmer at Pfizer. Read More
  • In recent months, people around the Lancaster area have especially recognized Vy Banh and her family for their giving nature. Through their popular restaurants, Rice and Noodles and Sprout of Rice and Noodles, she and her family have donated food to hospital workers, patients, police officers and others on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Read More
  • Building Champions
    February 05, 2022
    In July of 2019, the Delaware-based university hired Donato to turn a team of four players with a 0-9 record into a team of winners. Donato well surpassed all expectations — recruiting eight players from five countries in less than two years - and most recently finishing their fall season with a 9-0 record. Read More
  • Combining teaching tennis and working with individuals with disabilities, Tammy Truong created an Adaptive Tennis Day event for her capstone project at West Chester University. Truong said she believes her special connection to those with disabilities comes from the bond she shares with her best friend, who has Down syndrome. Read More
  • On a cold, clear evening in early March, Kim Clijsters pulled up to New Jersey’s Little Silver Tennis Club to give the Monmouth women’s tennis team the perfect start to its season. The six-time grand slam winner spent two hours hitting with and talking to the team about strategy and mental toughness. Read More