TOP AWARD FOR USTA
WHEELCHAIR TENNIS COACHES
Ashley Marshall | July 27, 2017
Following Team USA’s wheelchair tennis success at the 2016 Paralympic Games and World Team Cup, two USTA coaches have been recognized for the part they played in the international triumphs.
John Devorss (pictured above, left) and Paul Walker were awarded Order of Ikkos medals by the United States Olympic Committee for their outstanding contributions to wheelchair tennis.
Walker and Devorss are both national coaches with the USTA and each has been instrumental in growing the popularity of the sport in America and training the next generation of talented wheelchair tennis players.
The medallion is a symbol of excellence in coaching as represented by athletes’ achievement as an Olympic or Paralympic medalist.
While coaches are not awarded medals for the performance of athletes they work with at the Olympics or Paralympics, the medals are a token of appreciation for their work and a symbol of their excellence.
The USOC’s Order of Ikkos medal allows for each U.S. Olympic or Paralympic medalist to acknowledge one coach for their leadership in achieving world-class success.
According to the USOC website, the Order of Ikkos medal was established prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and inspired by Ikkos, the first recorded Olympic coach in Ancient Greece.
Recent success for the duo includes leading Team USA’s juniors to a three-peat at the World Team Cup, where the quad team and women’s teams finished third. At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, David Wagner and Nick Taylor won a bronze medal to increase their record medal haul.
Walker, a retired U.S. Army captain, played wheelchair tennis competitively for eight years, reaching a career high No. 4 in the US and No. 31 in the ITF world rankings.
He coached America’s women's team from 2005-2016 with a one year stint as the coach of the national junior team in 2013.
Walker’s previous accolades include the ITF Wheelchair Coach of the Year (2013), Wheelchair Tennis Champion of the Year for Tennis Industry Magazine (2014), and the USOC/USTA Paralympic Tennis Coach of the Year (2014).
“It was a great and unexpected surprise and honor to receive the Order of Ikkos Medal,” Walker said. “Coaches are often recognized for accomplishments, but without amazing players achieving at the highest level, we're just support staff. David Wagner and Nick Taylor have achieved at the highest level for many years, all credit to them on their many historic accomplishments.”
Devorss has been a USPTA-certified coach for more than a decade and has been on the USTA’s high-performance coaching staff for seven years having coached both the quad tennis and junior wheelchair teams.
Under the leadership of Devorss, the 2016 USOC/USTA Paralympic Tennis Coach of the Year, the quads have taken home the World Championships at World Team Cup in 2012, 2013 and 2015. The Junior team was a finalist under his helm in 2011.