Jackie Finn | March 28, 2017
Grass-roots efforts are essential to the growth of tennis, which is why ever year at the Annual Meeting, the USTA rewards those who have helped to grow and develop the game in their community. The 2017 honorees came from all backgrounds and sections to be recognized for their outstanding dedication to growing tennis at a local level.
They were honored at the 2017 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference, March 24-27, at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Meet the USTA Annual Award honorees (click on the headlines in bold to view video):
Gene Orlando: Brad Parks Award
Gene Orlando of Lansing, Mich., was presented with the Brad Parks Award for his outstanding contribution in helping grow wheelchair tennis at the local level. The Brad Parks award is presented annually and honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game. ADVERTISEMENT
Orlando, the head coach of the Michigan State University men’s tennis team, has been instrumental in the growth of the wheelchair tennis community at Michigan State since wheelchair tennis was first played there in 1990. In addition to his Big Ten men’s tennis team duties, he has created tournaments through the USTA Wheelchair Tennis Link and holds bi-weekly practices that are open to players of all levels.
As a coach, Orlando has worked with players who have gone on to win matches in all disciplines, including two-time U.S. Paralympian Bryan Barten.
“Gene Orlando’s contributions to the Michigan State wheelchair tennis program are unparalleled,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “In addition to his NCAA tennis responsibilities and his devotion to his family, he has given his time and talents to the wheelchair community for more than 25 years. He is very deserving of the Brad Parks Award.”
Barbara Wynne of Indianapolis was presented with the USTA Foundation National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Founders’ Service Award. The NJTL Founders’ award was created to recognize an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education. The award is given to those best reflecting the values of NJTL founders Arthur Ashe, Charles Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.
Wynne has spent her life promoting the benefits of tennis. She founded and serves as president of the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Fund to help tennis grow in the Greater Indianapolis area and is in her 52nd year of teaching tennis and leading the Indianapolis Community Tennis Program.
Over the years, Wynne has helped the Indianapolis chapter expand its offerings to include after-school and summer programs, impacting more than 1,400 youth each summer in 19 local public parks and schools. Wynne also has held positions as president and founder of the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Fund and Midwest Youth Tennis and Education Foundation (MYTEF) director at-large.
“The NJTL Founders award could not go to a better person than Barbara Wynne. Her dedication and passion for youth, education and tennis are to be commended,” said Dan Faber, executive director, USTA Foundation. “Like Arthur, she is a game changer for our sport, her community and with youth across the country.”
This is not the first-time Wynne has been recognized by the USTA for her efforts. In 2011, she was the winner of the Founders’ Service Award, and in 2008 she received the USTA Volunteer Service Award for 25 years of national service.
The San Antonio Tennis Association (SATA), located in San Antonio, was recognized with the USTA Organization Member of the Award. The award is given annually to an organization that provides outstanding service to its members and to the local community.
Founded in 1946 and based at the McFarlin Tennis Center, one of Texas’ premier public tennis facilities, SATA has been a longtime contributor in growing the sport of tennis in the greater San Antonio area and its surrounding communities. In 2015, SATA involved more than 13,000 men, women and children in and around San Antonio in the sport.
Along with its own events and programs, SATA supports a series of USTA programs and USTA-sanctioned tournaments. The association also works in cooperation with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department to host free weekly “Fitness in the Park” clinics and works with various schools, clubs, and other tennis organizations in the city to provide additional outlets for tennis.
In 2015, the SATA NJTL program served 5,212 participants, providing equipment and instruction at little to no cost. SATA has also developed programs for both active and retired military and their families, in addition to partnering with area schools and Special Olympics to assist with skills days for children with disabilities.
“The San Antonio Tennis Association has strengthened their community by showing tennis is an accessible sport for all, and by delivering remarkable programs,” said Kamperman. “They are truly living out their mission of promoting tennis as a lifetime sport for all.”
The Charles Norman family of Aurora, Ohio, was presented with the Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award. The award is given annually to a family that volunteers its time to promote amateur tennis, emphasizing the theme that tennis is a family game.
Charles Norman is a former Indiana University four-year scholarship player (1978-1982) who won multiple USTA Midwest Section titles as a top-level junior in the 1970s. He has remained active in USTA League play since 1996 and plays out of the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club in Chagrin Falls.
Norman’s wife, Mary, has been an active tennis volunteer for many years and has served as a USTA League captain and player.
The Norman children, Irene (age 17) and Chas (age 15), have been active USTA junior tournament players and have both served as volunteer ball persons for the USTA Pro Circuit Ladies Cleveland Open Championships, as well as the National Senior Games in Cleveland.
“The USTA salutes the Norman family for the tremendous impact they have made, not only in the state of Ohio, but on the entire Midwest tennis community,” said Kamperman. “The Normans’ ongoing efforts on and off the court have helped grow and expand tennis programs throughout the region
Steve Solomon of Palm Springs, Calif., was presented with the annual Seniors’ Service Award. The Seniors’ Service Award was established in 1958 to recognize and honor a person for service to senior tennis.
Seven years ago, Solomon started the annual Husband and Wife Doubles Championships at the Mission Hills Tennis Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which now has become the nation’s largest senior doubles event, with more than 200 teams competing. Solomon’s son, Ken Solomon, is the CEO and Chairman of the Tennis Channel.
“Steve truly epitomizes tennis being the sport for a lifetime with many years as a tennis player, volunteer and tournament director of some of the nation’s most popular senior events,” said Kamperman. “Steve’s love of tennis and commitment to our sport is contagious, and we applaud his numerous volunteer efforts in the Palm Springs area.”