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2021 Midwest Awards

Each year the Section honors dedicated individuals and organizations for their service and support of the Section’s mission to grow, develop and service the sport of tennis.
Family of the Year Award

This award is presented to the family in the USTA/Midwest Section that has contributed the most toward tennis through the years. The family members are all involved in tennis serving their local area or District in promoting and perpetuating the development of tennis on all levels.


2021 Recipient: Sonthana Thongsithavong Family (Springfield, Ill., Mid-South Illinois District)


For more than 15 years, Sonthana has been active in tennis. He has always been a go-to provider for any and all programs, and we know we can count on him to help in any manner. Time and time again, he gives up his time to travel far distances and sit at courts running events. 

His family has been extremely supportive of Sonthana and the sport of tennis. His young children are active in the sport and his wife takes on the role of “manager of everything." She keeps the family together and on time for events, and helps with many tennis-related projects, including creating T-shirts with special designs for Sonthana’s events.

Stanley Malless Award

This award is presented to a volunteer for distinguished service in his or her District. The award especially honors the individual who has contributed to the development of tennis programs from the grass roots up for five years or more. Stanley Malless, who has contributed a great deal to tennis from the grass roots to the national level, was President of both the USTA/Midwest Section and the USTA.


2021 Recipient: Arnie Villagomez (Chicago, Ill., Chicago District)


Arnie extended a hand to the Chicago District Tennis Association when there was a void in the Adult League program for three years. The degree of assistance and guidance he provided has shown nothing but positive outcomes. 

Arnie was paramount in organizing CDTA captains/players' open forums which resulted in changes with league rules, participants' gifts and league awards. All of these changes have resulted in a marked increase in player/captain satisfaction.


Another change he implemented was the creation of an Adult Play Committee with three subgroups: Administration, Growth and Events & Championships teams. To recruit competent and motivated volunteers, he introduced a vetting procedure for the volunteers resulting in 40 candidates vying for the positions. Diversity and inclusion together with experience and expertise were used as the selection criteria. He developed a mission and vision for each team and met monthly via zoom technology which he strongly suggested and implemented. 


Arnie also took under his wing the new District League Coordinator since Arnie's experience included seven years as a USTA League Coordinator. He serves as the CDTA's main resource for league rules, players' and captains' questions and NTRP questions.


Furthermore, he instituted a vision for the Midwest Section Nominating Committee to focus on Diversity and Inclusion when seeking and selecting candidates for the Midwest Section Board of Directors, Delegates at Large, and Nominating Committee. Arnie's passion, commitment and leadership skills support the USTA Midwest's mission to grow the game.

Mel Bergman Award

The USTA/Midwest Section's most prestigious award, the Mel Bergman Award, is given in recognition of continuous and distinguished service to the USTA/Midwest Section in an unselfish, dedicated manner for 10 years or more. Mel Bergman, an extremely dedicated volunteer, was a President of the USTA/Midwest Section who served on the USTA Executive Committee.


2021 Recipient: Violet "Vi" Clark (Chicago, Ill., Chicago District)


Violet's passion for tennis is demonstrated through her encouragement of her family and her work beyond the confines of the USTA. In December 2007, Violet along with Meghan Schmidt, founded the Friends of Chicago International Charter School Tennis which is a Community Tennis Association on the southside of Chicago.

Over the years, Friends of CICS Tennis has sponsored after school tennis programs at CICS campuses including CICS Prairie, Basil, Avalon, Wrightwood, Bucktown, West Belden, Longwood and Lloyd Bond.


Violet was a long-time member of the Board and eventually the President of The Board of Love to Serve Tennis and Education Foundation.


Violet was a tennis mom of three beautiful girls before becoming a tennis volunteer. It began with Adrienne as she began playing tennis with Love to Serve. Camille and Gabbie followed her. All played Midtac and ATA tournaments and achieved USTA Midwest ranking and in Camille and Gabbie’s cases National rankings. Gabbie went on to be the first African American female to win a NCAA individual championship (DIII) in any Division. She was a two-time winner. And yes, Violet plays tennis as well as running 5k races for charity.


The award recipients will be honored at an awards breakfast held at the USTA Midwest Annual Meeting on Saturday, February 12, 2022. 


Show your support for the Hall of Fame inductees and the 2021 USTA Midwest Award Winners by purchasing a congratulatory message to be printed in the Hall of Fame program and added to the USTA Midwest Tennis & Education Foundation website. The ad can be anything from a congratulatory message for these extraordinary individuals on their contributions to tennis or can be used as an opportunity to increase your business exposure within the tennis community. These funds directly support the Foundation.  We can even help you craft your special message!  To purchase your message using our secure online system, CLICK HERE.

If you have questions about the Hall of Fame program book, reach out to Elizabeth Dickison at


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