Gold Star Award: Melissa DeGasperi
In honor of our 100th anniversary in 2020, the USTA Missouri Valley will be recognizing 100 deserving tennis providers, players, partners and more across our section throughout the year.
Selected nominees will be given a Gold Star award, recognizing them for the contributions they are making to support and grow the game in the USTA Missouri Valley based on specific program areas and attributes.
One of the award winners from within the USTA Heart of America this June is Melissa DeGasperi, an active member of the Heart of America, and USTA official since 2014.
“I’m honored, surprised and humbled, first of all,” DeGasperi said. “I’m doing what I love to do. I’ve been involved with tennis since I was 10 years old, and I feel like giving back to the community and helping to grow the game is so important.”
As an official, DeGasperi uses her platform to continue to expand the game of tennis in the Kansas City community, and acts as a mentor to younger players.
“It’s really fun to be able to educate and see people interested in learning the game,” she said.
Her involvement with the USTA does not stop at officiating, however. DeGasperi plays in multiple USTA leagues, including Tri Level and 4.5 rated 55 & Over leagues.
“Tennis is a lifetime sport, and there aren’t very many sports that you can play for your whole life,” she said.
She enjoys being involved in the tennis community, noting that tennis provides a friendly environment that you cannot quite match anywhere else.
“It’s a different community,” she said. “Everyone has each other’s backs, and it’s a unique club. I’ve forged a lot of life-long friendships because of tennis.”
DeGasperi says that as she has spent more time in tennis, specifically in officiating, she has continued to grow as a person. She credits this to the nature of the job.
“Officiating teaches you to respect others’ views, how to be a good listener and how to be fair and equitable,” she said. “You learn a lot about yourself and how you handle situations.”
DeGasperi is a source of life in the USTA Heart of America, and we look forward to continuing to follow the work that she does in the future.
“I hope I’m involved with the USTA for years to come,” she said. “I’m going to continue officiating, and I fully hope to be a part of this organization for at least 10 years, God willing. I want to be a USTA player for as long as I can.”