2022 Midwest Awards

June 30, 2022

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.
Cap Leighton – Teaching Professional Award


This award recognizes the tennis teaching professional who contributes to tennis in his or her community beyond his livelihood. This person gives freely in promoting involvement in tennis for players of all levels and ages, and assists in developing tennis programs and promoting participation.


2022 Recipient: Gabe Higgs (Ohio Valley District)


Gabe Higgs has worked tirelessly to grow Junior Team Tennis and World Team Tennis with his uncanny ability to get players interested in team styles of the game. Higgs knows exactly how to make the sport fun, first and foremost, and competitive! Over the years, many of Higgs' players have qualified to play in national championships and become college athletes.

Higgs is an organized and passionate leader who develops other strong teachers of tennis. He runs weekly "play days" for all level players, believing that athletes must play in matches often, outside of their tennis lessons, to improve greatly. Higgs also works well with so many different kinds of players—from first-time kids, to national-level juniors, from adult beginning, to top-level, lifelong players. He gets the best out of every student. Higgs makes people want to play tennis and succeed.

Community Tennis Association (CTA) Award

This award recognizes outstanding service rendered in the community served, and in the growth and development of the sport of tennis.


2022 Recipient: Oshkosh Community YMCA (Oshkosh, Wis., Wisconsin District)


In addition to the CTA Award, Oshkosh Community YMCA was the recipient of the 2021 Wisconsin Tennis Association Member Organization of the Year Award. They provide adult and junior programming in all areas⁠—Midwest Youth Team Tennis, Adult Leagues, and so much more.


The Oshkosh Community YMCA also offers a variety of social opportunities for the community.

Family events, fundraising tournaments, Cardio Tennis, beginner lessons and clinics—for kids and adults of all ages! High school tennis teams train there, and grade schools use the courts for interscholastic play. Oshkosh Community YMCA leadership and staff have converted numerous players into USTA memberships. 

Helen Shockley – Junior Female Player Award

This award recognizes an outstanding 16 or 18-and-under age division female player from the Section for the highest standards of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship and amateurism. 


2022 Recipient: Elisabeth Jones (Southeastern Michigan District)


Elisabeth Jones, affectionately known as Lily, has competed successfully at a national level for several years. More recently, she competed within the global junior tennis circuit of the International Tennis Federation. As a freshman, she led her Grosse Pointe South High School tennis team to the Michigan High School Division 1 State Championship. She finished second in the individual state singles championship to the then-ranked #1 junior in the country. Jones was selected to be First Team All-State and First Team All-American for her performance in 2019. The next year as a sophomore, Jones reached the singles semi-finals and the doubles finals of the USTA Women’s National Grass Court Championships. Early in 2020, Jones achieved the #1 national ranking within the USTA Girls 18&U Junior Rankings.


She has been recognized throughout her career for her unfailing sense of sportsmanship and team leadership, and Jones is a fantastic scholar. She's committed to playing tennis as a full-scholarship member of the University of Michigan’s Women’s tennis team. She looks forward contributing to the team’s success while pursuing her academic studies there.

Organization of the Year Award

Established in 1981 and presented annually by each Section, this award recognizes outstanding service by a Member Organization its members and to the game of tennis.


2022 Recipient: Lorain County Community College (Elyria, Ohio, Northeastern Ohio District)


Lorain County Community College (LCCC) hosts numerous USTA events such as Summer Smash, youth clinics and Midwest Play Days. The college also offers free youth play opportunities for kids in the Lorain, Elyria-area. During Covid-19, when in-person events were canceled, the staff organized racquet giveaways using USTA grant dollars.


 LCCC has a Tennis On Campus team, which is currently inactive due to the pandemic.

During Covid-19, the Tennis On Campus team recorded beginner tennis lesson videos, and shared them as part of a non-credit College For Kids program. The outdoor courts at LCCC are used by local high schools for practices and matches, and its indoor courts are heavily occuppied by community members for recreation. LCCC works very closely with the USTA to help expand its programming.

The Bender Family Wheelchair Performance Award

The Bender Family encompasses the dedication and true desire to develop the game of wheelchair tennis. This award recognizes a volunteer, wheelchair player, teaching professional, or coach who has made outstanding contributions and has demonstrated excellence in the sport of wheelchair tennis. The recipient has shown evidence of dedication to improving, advancing, and promoting wheelchair tennis in their community with the USTA Midwest. 


2022 Recipient: Erin Flynn (Ohio Valley District)


Erin and her team of coaches and volunteers through The Clover Lindsay Sports Foundation have successfully launched a wheelchair tennis program in Columbus and the surrounding Ohio Valley area. The program began with a three-hour, free "try it" wheelchair tennis clinic. It introduced tennis to adults and juniors of all levels. Flynn and her team introduced a six-week, follow-up program for players during the summer of 2021, and it was an instant success! They continued the program through the fall and during the indoor tennis season. Her program continues this summer, meeting every Friday for two hours of instruction and match play.

Wallace R. Holzman, Sr. – Junior Male Player Award

This award recognizes an outstanding 16 or 18-and-under age division male player from the Section for the highest standards of tennis accomplishments, character, conduct, sportsmanship and amateurism


2022 Recipient: Mert Oral (Southeastern Michigan District)


Mert is a true scholar-athlete, who exhibits excellent sportsmanship and is deeply involved in several extracurricular activities through school and the community.


He's a three-year All-State performer and current team captain at Ann Arbor Greenhills High School. Oral has played #1 singles since his sophomore year. 

He's also been an individual State Champion every year that he's participated. In previous years, he captured the Midwest Closed in singles and has reached the quarterfinals of the National Hardcourts. Oral is an extremely fair competitor, who shows respect for his opponents and always conducts himself in the highest manner. In addition, Oral is a standout in the classroom. He currently maintains a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend The University of Michigan where he will be a member of the Varsity Tennis Team while majoring in biomedical engineering. 


The award recipients will be honored at an event in their District. Check back for details.

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