Brian Vahaly elected to Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame
Trailblazing American tennis player Brian Vahaly will soon add another title to his résumé: Hall of Famer.
The former touring pro and current member of the USTA Board of Directors will be enshrined in the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2020, as announced by the Georgia Tennis Foundation (GTF) on Monday.
Born in Camden, N.J., Vahaly relocated to Atlanta at a young age and developed his tennis game there. An Easter Bowl champion in the 18-and-under bracket, Vahaly reached a career-best ranking of world No. 17 as a junior, and later went on to have a decorated career at the University of Virginia. The school's first men's tennis All-American in 1999 and NCAA Division I singles runner-up in 2001, Vahaly was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year as a freshman and the ACC Player of the Year in 2000 and 2001.
As a professional, Vahaly reached a career-high ranking of world No. 57 on the ATP Tour in 2003, and scored a victory over world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero en route to the quarterfinals in Indian Wells that same year. A lingering shoulder injury forced him off the tour at age 28, as he transitioned to a career as a venture capitalist and in tennis administration.
Following his playing career, Vahaly has become an advocate for the LGBTQ+ tennis community, coming out after his retirement. Currently in his third non-consecutive term on the USTA's Board of Directors, he plays a key role in the association's diversity and inclusion efforts, which included helping to develop US Open Pride and its inaugural panel event at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2019. Vahaly and his husband, Bill Jones, married in 2015 and are the parents of twins, Bennett and Parker.
Joining Vahaly in the Class of 2020 is Craig Jones of Macon, Ga., who boasts a nearly 40-year coaching career in the state, while Manny Diaz, men's tennis head coach at the University of Georgia, will be presented with the Coach Dan Magill Impact Award. Diaz, inducted into the hall in 2000, scored another milestone in 2020, as he passed Magill to become the all-time wins leader amongst Southeastern Conference (SEC) coaches with 709 victories.
“The Hall of Fame Selection Committee met and selected two very meritorious new inductees, Brian Vahaly and Craig Jones,” stated Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chairman Richard Howell. “Congratulations to both of them. Furthermore, we are pleased to award Coach Manny Diaz as this year's recipient of the Dan Magill Impact Award."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 will be enshrined in conjunction with the 2021 ATP Truist Atlanta Open, a US Open Series event scheduled to be held next July.
Georgia Tennis Foundation President Cannon Carr added: “Congratulations to our Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2020. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the 2021 Truist Atlanta Open."
(Photo: Brian Vahaly and Belgian WTA player Greet Minnen during the US Open Pride Panel at the 2019 US Open. Credit: Mike Lawrence/USTA)