For Arlene Frye, Tennis is More Than Just a Game: “It’s Generational”
Here at USTA Heart of America, we believe diversity and inclusion of all is vital to a fun and thriving tennis community. We’re honored to have many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who are members of our district, which is why we proudly celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month each May.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month was formally established in 1992 to honor the rich culture and heritage of AAPI individuals residing in the U.S. To learn more, please visit https://asianpacificheritage.gov.
This year, we’d like to turn your attention to a very impactful member of USTA Missouri Valley, Arlene Frye, who is also a member of the AAPI community. Arlene is the Chair of the USTA Missouri Valley Sanction and Scheduling Working Group, an officiant, and a tireless advocate for community tennis. In 2020, she deservedly earned the Gold Star award from USTA Missouri Valley for her dedication and commitment to growing the game here in USTA Heart of America, and in 2021, she was named USTA Heart of America Volunteer of the Year.
We recently caught up with Arlene and learned more about her tennis background and what the future holds for her.
Arlene Frye’s love of tennis started as a child playing on the courts of Boston and Fairfield County, situated just outside New York City, with her family. “My parents were instrumental in establishing my love for tennis,” said Frye. “We were a big sports family, and tennis was one sport we all played. We watched our Dad win many local tournaments in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.”
Now Chair of the USTA Missouri Valley Sanction and Scheduling Working Group and an officiant, Frye credits her upbringing and her family with her dedication to the sport. “It was a generational family tradition [my parents] wanted to pass on to me and my four siblings–all playing in high school and, back then, competing in the NELTA events and three of us playing at the collegiate level.”
“At a young age, my Dad would get home from work and my Mom would pack up a snack basket and we would go to our local courts and play until it got dark.”
Frye’s enthusiasm for tennis is contagious, and it carries over into her roles with the USTA. At present, she volunteers her time to programs such as the USTA Heart of America Grant Awards and is the USTA Missouri Valley Sanction and Schedule Working Group Chair.
In 2020, Frye deservedly earned the Gold Star award from USTA Missouri Valley for her dedication and commitment to growing the game here in USTA Heart of America. She was also named the USTA Heart of America Volunteer of the Year in 2021. The positive impact she’s made both on and off the court over the years is beyond honorable, and we’re proud to feature her in this month’s Women’s History Month edition of our newsletter.
“I feel very honored and humbled to be featured [during] Women's History Month. I know so many women who are so passionate and active in growing the game of tennis and I am grateful to be recognized as one amongst this special circle.”
When asked about her favorite parts of her work with the Junior Competition Committee, Frye said she “really enjoyed the energy and dedication of the Junior Competition Committee, [which is] composed of experienced tennis professionals and wonderful tennis ambassadors and leaders from five states. We had an incredible task of restructuring the junior competitive structure mandated by USTA National and our committee accomplished this monumental goal in one year and tested it in the second year prior to many other sections in the country. It was challenging, productive, fun, and a great time working with the members of this committee.”
And as for being an officiant? “I enjoy working with the facilities in creating the best experiences for the players and families during tournament weekends as I enforce and often teach the less-experienced players the Code and Rules and Regulations of the Friend at Court. Educating the junior players and encouraging good sportsmanship are the most rewarding.”
As a mother of three tennis players and as a longtime player herself, Frye sees the game as generational–and this fuels her desire to give back to the tennis community. “I feel so fortunate to have experienced the joy of tennis in different stages in my life: in my youth with my family and friends, as an adult player, as a parent of three dedicated players, and now returning to play after an injury and as a USTA official, I’ve become a student of the sport and I want to continue to share that love of tennis. I think of ways I can make a difference and I pursue those interests.”
Looking ahead to the 2022 season, Frye sees junior tennis growing in both USTA Heart of America and USTA Missouri Valley as a whole. She tells me that the structure of the USTA junior programs have expanded to meet the needs and interests of both recreational and competitive players, giving all opportunities to play and gain experience, which will spur that growth.
As for Frye’s tennis plans in 2022? “I’m officiating junior tournaments, playing in the USTA Heart of America 40+ and 55+ leagues, playing [in] TCKC leagues, cheering on our son and his college team in the ITA and as they work to make a run in the NCAA, attending the U.S. Open with our children, and tennis trips with longtime tennis friends,” Frye said. “Also, it’s a given: weekly drills and matchplay are always part of the fun!”
“I hope to continue to enjoy my tennis with family and friends–as long as I can stay injury free–and explore areas to make a difference in the tennis community.”
To learn more about Arlene, check out this article on her Gold Star award win!