Missouri Valley / Heart Of America

Meet Your USTA Heart of America Board of Directors

Jerod Fox | March 29, 2021

The USTA Heart of America’s 2021-22 Board of Directors was recently announced, and we want to give you the chance to get to know everyone in their own words over the coming months! So, without further ado, welcome Stacie Turtledove, Mary Eichenberg, Michelle Miller Gifford and Thiago Santos.



Stacie Turtledove - Vice President (Juniors)


Both of my children started playing tennis about ten years ago. Although I am not a player myself, I enjoyed the lessons learned and friendships made throughout their tennis journeys. I look forward to seeing them both continue to play in college, as well as stay involved as a USTA official (son) and tennis volunteer (daughter).

I started helping out in the Heart of America District about five years ago. Since then, it has progressed down a path that I had not foreseen. As I coordinate the competitive junior tournaments for Heart of America, I always try to look from the angle of the club, tournament director, players and parents in making relevant decisions. It was a real ‘aha’ moment to learn how thankful we should be to the host clubs, who put lessons and programming on hold to host a tournament, which often does not turn a profit for the club. I experience such a range of interactions from seasoned tennis pros, new tournament directors, experienced junior players and parents and new families who are just starting out with the sport. I never know what each day may bring, but there is rarely a dull moment. I enjoy giving back to the sport which has given so much to my children and our family.



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Mary Eichenberg - Board Member

I grew up playing tennis with my twin sister and together we played high school tennis in Colorado and college tennis at Rockhurst University. I worked for Prince as a promotion rep and traveled across the Midwest putting on various demo events. By joining the USTA Heart of America board, I’m excited to create events to connect the competitive and social sides of the sport.



Michelle Miller Gifford - Board Member


I played Division I college volleyball for Temple University in Philadelphia. I was the team captain three of those years and was an Academic All-American. I worked as a financial attorney for Goldman Sachs for 15 years before retiring to spend more time with my three beautiful children. I didn’t pick up a tennis racquet again until I was 39-years-old but quickly moved up from a 3.0 to a 4.5. I now play and captain every 4.5 and 5.0 ladies, mixed and Tri-Level team imaginable.  


My oldest daughter signed with William Jewell College to play college tennis this fall.  I started last year as the volunteer attorney for the USTA Heart of America Board and this year I was chosen as a board member.


Thiago Santos - Board Member


I have been involved with tennis for a little over 30 years as a player, coach and a director of clubs.


As a player, I was involved with junior competition in my home country of Brazil, as a college player at Wichita State University and as an ATP doubles player.


As a coach/club manager, I have worked for Genesis Health Clubs for 12 years and in the last few years have focused on the growth of adult tennis. I currently hold the position of National Director of Cardio Tennis and Director of Adult Tennis for Genesis Health Clubs OP. Also, I am a Cardio Tennis Global Trainer (USTA) and my function is the continuing education and certification of coaches and clubs for Cardio Tennis.


My intent is to be an asset and resource for the USTA Heart of America to continue to grow adult tennis and grassroots tennis in our district. My passion is to grow our game of tennis!



Efren Mojica - Board Member

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