USTA New England Enshrines HOF Class of 2018
June 11, 2018
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USTA New England Enshrines Class of 2018
NEWPORT, RI- USTA New England inducted three members to its Hall of Fame Class of 2018 on Saturday, June 9, in a ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI. New England legends Teryn Ashley Fitch, Jonathan H. Bates and Heather Crowe Conner were celebrated for their extraordinary lifetime achievements and contributions to tennis in New England and beyond at the 29th annual enshrinement.
“These three exceptional individuals have dedicated their lives to tennis and we are proud to have them eternally part of the New England tennis family. It is our privilege to honor Teryn, Jonathan and Heather amongst the greats that came before them and induct them as part of the Class of 2018,” said USTA New England President and CEO, Peter Parrotta.ADVERTISEMENT
Nearly 150 guests including friends, family, past Hall of Famers, USTA New England Board and staff members listened attentively as presenters and inductees reminisced, told stories and relived the great accomplishments of the Class of 2018.
In addition to the Hall of Fame inductees, 40-year USTA volunteer Mike Mercier was presented with USTA New England’s most prestigious annual award, the Gardner Ward Chase Memorial Award for outstanding lifetime achievements.
Read about Mercier and each inductee below:
Teryn Ashley Fitch, Ann Arbor, MI (Hometown- Chestnut Hill, MA)
Teryn Ashley Fitch has had success at every level she’s competed in. As a New England junior, she held the No. 1 ranking in the 16s and 18s division while compiling three Sectional Championship titles. She went on to attend Stanford University, where she became a five-time All-American in singles and doubles, was a two-time national champion and became the top ranked doubles player nationally.
Following her collegiate career, Ashley Fitch competed professionally on the WTA tour from 2001 to 2006. She achieved a career high world doubles ranking of No. 59 and high singles ranking of No. 95. She won 17 ITF Tour titles, won the ASB Bank Championship in doubles (WTA Tour) and competed in singles and doubles in the main draws of all four Grand Slams.
Ashley Fitch is currently the Associate Head Coach of the University of Michigan’s women’s tennis team.
She was presented by her sister, Allison Friedlander.
“What an unbelievable evening, and to do it here in Newport was awesome. I was really inspired by everyone honored, and it was great having my friends and family in attendance who I don’t get to see very often,” Ashley Fitch said. “I’m a super proud New Englander and haven’t forgotten my roots at all. I definitely have a soft spot for this part of the country, and love coming back as often as I can.”
Jonathan H. Bates, Stamford, CT
Jonathan H. Bates has been playing tennis in New England for more than 60 years. From a top 10 junior ranking and high school state champion to No. 1 ranked tournament player, Bates has competed with some of the best the section has to offer.
He served as a two-year captain at Amherst College and immediately transitioned into a successful tournament player upon graduation. Bates has been a regular member of the Atlantic Coast Cup 45s and 55s teams and has held top doubles rankings in the New England 45s, 50s and 55s with partners Harlan Stone and Steve Radigan. Bates and Stone also held a number of national doubles rankings, including a high of No. 10.
Bates is a math teacher at Greenwich Country Day School and still plays regular in New England adult tournaments.
Harlan Stone had the honor of presenting Bates in Newport.
“Harlan, did such an amazing job presenting and was a tough act to follow. He is such a great friend, and I greatly appreciate what he had to say,” Bates said. “It’s an honor to be here in the company of so many great players. These are world-class players and I’m mainly a New England player that played some national tournaments, so just to be thought of in the same way, or at least on the same plaque with them, is very exciting.”
Bates added, “I’ll definitely remember this night for the rest of my life. It was just a beautiful occasion and lived up to everything I expected.”
Heather Crowe Conner, West Newbury, MA (Hometown- Topsfield, MA)
Heather Crowe Conner didn’t achieve her first junior ranking until the 16s division. In just two years, she worked her way up from No. 21 in the 16s to No. 3 in the 18s. She carried the momentum into college, where she received a full scholarship to Indiana University.
At Indiana, Crowe Conner became a two time All-American in both singles and doubles, helped her team to four Big Ten championships as well as the AIAW (Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) national title in 1982. She also won the AIAW national singles title in 1982 and was a recipient of the Broderick Award for top female tennis player in the nation.
In 1994, she became the first female inductee into the Indiana University Hall of Fame.
As a professional player, Crowe Conner competed in each Grand Slam on five different occasions, with the exception of the US Open at which she competed six times.
Crowe Conner is currently a teacher at Reading Memorial High School.
After she retired from tennis, she stepped away from the game for some time due to personal reasons. Saturday night however served as her chance to remember the game she once loved so dearly.
“I was so excited to see some of the people I’ve lost touch with and to meet so many other people. I kept myself from tennis for so long in the past, but I’m excited to feel connected again,” Crowe Conner said.
She was presented by her older brother, Stephen Crowe.
Michael Louis Mercier, Beverly, MA
Michael Mercier has volunteered in New England tennis for over 40 years at hundreds of events. He has worked with players of all abilities from beginners to top New England juniors and professionals.
Mercier is currently the head tennis professional at Harvard University and helps to provide individual, group and private instruction for over 100,000 Harvard alumni, family and affiliates. He volunteers in a variety of Harvard community programs including: Harvard University Men’s/Women’s Club Tennis Teams, Tenacity, Special Olympics, Wheelchair Tennis, Harvard Alumni events, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Harvard Tennis teams’ racquet stringing, among others.
Mercier is also currently serving as the USPTA New England President and has served on a number of USTA New England boards and committees. He was the immediate past chair of the Wheelchair Committee and now volunteers, along with his family, at Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country and their wheelchair tennis programming.
“It was a very eventful night and great meeting and being around people that contribute so much to tennis. I’ve had so much support over the years from family, friends and others trying to increase awareness of the sport, so this award isn’t about me, but about them,” Mercier said. “This is my first New England award, and this is where my passion and heart are, so it’s truly amazing.”
About the USTA New England Hall of Fame
The USTA New England Hall of Fame exists to recognize those tennis players and non-players in New England whose achievements as sportsmen or sportswomen are worthy of the highest commendation and recognition, or whose contributions as officials or individuals in a tennis-related activity have been so outstanding over a significant period of time as to justify the highest commendation and recognition. For more information visit the New England Hall of Fame webpage.
About USTA New England
USTA New England, one of 17 regional sections across the country that comprise the United States Tennis Association (USTA), is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting and developing the growth of tennis and increasing participation in the sport in New England by offering quality recreational and competitive programs for people of all ages and abilities. For more information, visit www.usta.com/newengland.