Blake & Barker Elected to New England Tennis Hall of Fame
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JAMES BLAKE & BRIAN BARKER ELECTED TO USTA NEW ENGLAND TENNIS HALL OF FAME
WESTBOROUGH, MA - Three-time Grand Slam singles quarterfinalist James Blake and his longtime coach, Brian Barker, have been selected as the newest members of the USTA New England Tennis Hall of Fame. The duo will be inducted together at a ceremony at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI on June 11 and will be enshrined as the Class of 2020.
“We are so proud to finally have the chance to recognize James and Brian for all they’ve accomplished in New England Tennis and beyond. They are prime examples of what hard work can do and have represented New England with the utmost professionalism throughout their tremendous careers,” said Brian Lomax, USTA New England Hall of Fame Committee Chair.
The USTA New England Hall of Fame exists to recognize and honor New England tennis players and non-players whose achievements or volunteer contributions in tennis-related activities have been outstanding over a significant period of time.
“Being inducted into the New England tennis hall of fame is special to me because that is my entire childhood memory of junior tennis. Playing all over Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island was such a treat for me and my family,” Blake said. “Personally, I enjoyed my time playing in New England and some of the most lasting friendships I have started through New England tennis tournaments.”
“I am honored to have my name next to so many great tennis players,” Barker added. “Being inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame gives me a way to say thank you to all those who have helped me in my tennis career, especially my family, coaches and friends. I would not be here without them.”
Learn more about the inductees here:
James Blake - San Diego, CA (Hometown - Fairfield, CT)
James Blake is a 14-year ATP pro and three-time singles Grand Slam quarterfinalist who held a career high singles ranking of No. 4.
He began his career training at the Tennis Club of Trumbull in Trumbull, CT. When Blake was 12 years old, he was introduced to Brian Barker, who would take him under his wing and coach him throughout the remainder of his junior career and through the height of his professional career.
In Blake’s final year in the New England junior circuit, he finished unbeaten and earned No. 1 rankings in both New England and Nationally in the Boys’ 18s.
Blake then attended Harvard, where he played two seasons on the tennis team. He became Harvard's first-ever freshman All-American and was the ITA Collegiate Player of the Year in his sophomore year before leaving to pursue a professional career.
As a pro, Blake won 10 singles titles, seven doubles titles and represented Team USA in both the Olympics and the Davis Cup. He competed in 42 career singles Grand Slam events, nearly three quarters of which were with Barker in his box.
“I don’t say it lightly, that I’m not sure I would have had much of a career without Brian Barker leading me through the ups and downs of a junior career all the way through the pros,” Blake said. “He influenced me as a player and a person as much as anyone outside of my family. It is an honor to be in the same class as my coach, who is so responsible for everything I did on the court. I don’t know if I would be receiving this honor without him.”
Blake currently works as a tennis analyst for ESPN.
Brian Barker - Monroe, CT (Hometown - Trumbull, CT)
Brian Barker has made a career for himself as both a player and coach. Barker was one of the most successful juniors in New England tennis history, holding No. 1 rankings in the 14s, 16s and 18s division, while winning five consecutive Sectional Championships. He also held a top-20 national ranking.
Barker’s crowning achievements however were the multiple sportsmanship awards he collected. Sportsmanship was something his parents instilled in him from a young age and remains his top priority for his current students.
Barker’s success continued in college, where he played NCAA tennis at the University of South Carolina. He served as captain and was named a two-time team MVP.
Barker went on to have a short run on the pro tour before coaching full time.
Barker spent the better part of his club career coaching in the Tennis Club of Trumbull, where he had stints both before and after traveling around the world for 10 years as Blake’s coach. He currently serves as a high performance coach at the club.
“New England tennis has been and still is a huge part of my life. Some of my closest friends are also involved in New England tennis, and today I still travel to New England tournaments with my students and it brings back great memories of my friends and family coming to see me play. It was because of my great experience playing New England tennis, I decided to make a career in tennis,” Barker said.
Barker has earned a number of coaching awards throughout his career, including the USOC’s National Coach of the Year honors in 2005 for his work with Blake.
“Being inducted into the New England Hall of Fame with James is huge and now means that I can honestly say that I can do something that James can,” Barker added. “But seriously, I am honored to be inducted on the same weekend as him. James has had a huge impact on my career, and it was because of him, that I was afforded the opportunity to learn how to teach at all levels, and that knowledge I’ve gained has made me a much better coach today.”
If you would like to purchase tickets to attend the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, contact Alex Wesley at email@example.com.
Nominations for the Class of 2023 are open and can be submitted here.
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 usta.com/newengland.