Spring Award Winners
USTA Midwest | June 8, 2018
Congratulations to the 2018 Midwest Section Award winners! Awards will be presented throughout the spring and summer in the winners’ hometowns, where family, friends and coworkers can honor the winners’ service to the sport.
Cap Leighton Award: Miljana Jocic
Recognizes the tennis teaching professional who contributes to tennis in his/her community beyond his/her livelihood, promoting involvement in tennis of all levels and ages, and in developing tennis programs and growing participation.
Miljana Jocic, from Deerfield, Ill., known as “Coach Miki” is Director of Jr. Development for Five Star Tennis Center in Plainfield, Ill. Jocic focuses on programs for players ages 10 and under. When the club opened in 2014 there were no players in this age group and now there are more than 270 participating. ADVERTISEMENT Jocic is a Net Generation Ambassador for the USTA, working to promote the sport to youth in her community. Because of her efforts, she was selected to bring a group of 24 players from her program to participate in on-court activities on the famous Arthur Ashe Stadium court during the 2017 US Open.
Jocic helps coordinate the club’s Single Day Showdowns and Youth Progression Tournaments. In addition to her role at the club, she coaches three junior female players who are ranked in the top 10 in the USTA/Midwest Section.
League Volunteer Award: Ted Brassfield
Recognizes a USTA League player and/or volunteer who has provided leadership and has made a significant contribution to the growth of USTA League play within their USTA District and the USTA/Midwest Section.
Theodore (Ted) Brassfield, from Beverly Hills, Mich., has been involved with USTA League for more than 20 years. In addition to playing, he has served as captain of many teams, including 7.0 and 8.0 level mixed doubles teams for more than 10 years in the USTA Southeastern Michigan District.
Brassfield also volunteers his time to help growing the USTA League program by serving on league committees on both the district and section level. In 2014, Brassfield was recognized for his efforts on the District level by winning the Towler Memorial Award, an award given to a USTA League player in the Southeastern Michigan District who best reflects the qualities of honest, sincerity, loyalty, good sportsmanship and leadership while demonstrating a commitment to growing tennis.
Frank Dowling Award: Barry Fittes
Recognizes a person who has displayed outstanding attributes as an umpire for at least five years.
Barry Fittes, from Cincinnati, Ohio, has been a certified USTA official since 2007. He has served as Chair of Officials for the USTA Ohio Valley District since 2014, making him a member of the Section’s Officials Committee. He currently coordinates officials for nearly 200 different events in Cincinnati and southwest Ohio, including USTA junior and adult tournaments and Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) events, including various NCAA regional competitions.
Fittes has been responsible for roving, refereeing, line work and chairing matches. He has been a line umpire at the US Open and the Western & Southern Open. He has officiated at the USTA National Father and Son Championship and is a valued umpire at the prestigious USTA National Boys' 16 and 18 National Championship in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Wheelchair Tennis Performance Award: Melissa Kress
Recognizes a volunteer, wheelchair tennis player, tennis professional or coach who has made outstanding contributions and has demonstrated excellence in the sport.
Melissa Kress, from St. Charles, Ill., is Club Manager for Centre Court Athletic Club, part of the Hanover Park, Park District. She is creator of the Chicago Wheelchair Classic, an annual wheelchair tennis tournament that attracts players from all over the country and from several other countries.
The first Chicago Wheelchair Classic took place in 2013 with 18 players. Participation has grown every year, reaching 52 players in 2017. In 2016, the classic became an ITF (International Tennis Federation) Futures event. Kress recruits approximately 150 volunteers to help run the Chicago Wheelchair Classic.
Helen Shockley Award: Shanoli Kumar
Recognizes the outstanding 16 or 18 and under age division female player for the highest standards of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship and amateurism.
Shanoli Kumar, from Novi, Mich., is an accomplished junior player, experiencing success at Northville High School and in USTA junior tournaments. She helped lead her high school team to its fifth straight regionals title; the team went on to win the 2018 MHSAA Division 1 state championship. Kumar finished as a state finalist in No. 1 singles this year.
Kumar has been recognized for her sportsmanship many times, winning 8 USTA tournament sportsmanship awards. In 2017 she was presented the USTA Southeastern Michigan District’s Jean and Jerry Hoxie Memorial Award, which recognizes sportsmanship and achievements both on and off the tennis court. Kumar maintains a 3.98 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Wallace R. Holzman, Sr. Award: Bill Duo
Recognizes the outstanding 16 or 18 and under age division male player for the highest standards of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship and amateurism.
Bill Duo, from Portage, Mich., is currently ranked No. 12 in USTA Boys’ 18 singles, No. 2 in USTA/Midwest Section Boys’ 18 singles, and No. 1 in Boys’ 18 singles in the USTA Western Michigan District. He played at Portage Central High School for two years, leading the team to a state championship while capturing the individual state singles title his sophomore year. Duo was named the USTA Western Michigan District Player of the Year four years in a row, 2015-18 and was named Kalamazoo Boys Tennis Player of the Year in 2015. He recently was selected for the USTA Junior Leadership Team for 2018.
Duo earned a 3.94 GPA and was active in other activities including the school’s Ping Pong Club, Chamber Strings and the Recycling Club. He received the 2018 Tim & Tom Gullikson Scholarship, a $2,500 award given by the USTA/Midwest Tennis & Education Foundation. Duo will attend Princeton University in the fall.
Community Tennis Association of the Year: People for Palmer Park
Recognizes outstanding service rendered in the community and in the growth and development of the sport of tennis.
Palmer Park Tennis Academy began as a program for children age 10 and under with 35 participating the first year. The program now has 100 participants each summer, with many continuing through the winter.
During the summer of 2017, the Academy coordinated eight scrimmages against other summer programs. An educational component was added to last year’s program which gave participants the opportunity to learn African American music history – taught by University of Michigan Adjunct Professor Marion Hayden - while also learning the fundamentals of tennis. A local judge also gave a presentation on mental toughness. At the end of the session a concert (and fundraiser) was put on by students who had learned to play traditional African instruments.
The CTA focuses on keeping costs low in order to include as many children as possible. The courts used for programs are near a low-income neighborhood and many children who come are given a racquet and encouraged to participate when they can – at no cost.
Member Organization of the Year: Five Star Tennis Center
Recognizes service to the tennis community and its history of providing tennis to its members through junior and adult programs.
Five Star Tennis Center in Plainfield, Ill. provides tennis programs for players of all ages and levels, offering instructional and recreational programs and a variety of competitive options for both juniors and adults. The club has 12 different USTA League teams year-round and also offers a “Flex League”, drawing 500 players who participate in open-ended match play. The club runs a TEAM UP event every month, designed for players who want a fun, social and shorter competitive play option.
Five Star Tennis currently has over 1,100 members; approximately 300 adults and 700+ junior players. The club offers USTA Junior Team Tennis leagues and Youth Progression Tournaments, as well as Single Day Showdowns. The club also supports community programs, including Buddy Up Tennis. It continues to enhance its facilities for members, recently implementing LED lighting and PlaySight SmartCourt Technology.
NJTL Chapter of the Year: Cincinnati Recreation Commission
Recognizes a National Junior Tennis & Learning Chapter that has demonstrated continued excellence in recreational tennis. Several criteria apply.
Established in 1927, the Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC) provides recreational, cultural, leisure and educational activities for residents of all ages and abilities. The NJTL program is free to children ages 7-14 and provides tennis racquets, balls, court time and group instruction to all participants. As part of the USTA Foundation’s NJTL Network, the commission provides health and nutrition education in addition to tennis instruction.
CRC offers an eight-week summer program which meets two to three days each week. Participants are taught basic tennis strokes and scoring. For older players, part of the program includes match play between different locations. The goal is to get players comfortable with competition, with a focus on teamwork and sportsmanship.