A NIGHT OF CELEBRATION
AT AWARDS/HOF BANQUET
USTA Northern | November 5, 2017
USTA Northern honored those who have given so much to the sport of tennis and the Section at the 2017 USTA Northern Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet and Social November 17 at Minnesota Valley Country Club. Marc Stingley, former USTA Northern award winner and currently Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Professional Tennis Registry in Hilton Head, S.C., will be the emcee.
USTA Northern recognized 13 award winners and inducted two people into its Hall of Fame that evening: Timothy Burke of Minneapolis, Minn., and Brent Frueh of Rochester, Minn. Burke is a long-time player, coach and teaching professional who started wheelchair tennis in USTA Northern, while Frueh is the General Manager of the Rochester Athletic Club in Rochester, Minn., after a storied career as a community tennis leader, teaching professional, coach and USTA volunteer. ADVERTISEMENT To read more about Burke and Frueh, click here.
2017 USTA Northern Award Winners
* Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award: Meredith Lawrence, Prior Lake, Minn.
* Frank Voigt Pro of the Year: Nguyen Vo, Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center, St. Paul, Minn.
* Family of the Year: The Eric, Susan, Jackson, Brooks and Lily Allen Family – Shakopee, Minn.
* Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award: Marit Swenson, North Oaks, Minn. (awarded posthumously)
* Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award: Kamran Ahrar, Lakeville, Minn.
* Jack Dow Adult Development Award: Rogina Cusic, Bismarck, N.D. (awarded posthumously) and Lori Keller, Rapid City, S.D.
* Bob Larson Media Excellence Award: Brad Elliott Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, N.D.
* Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Officials Award: Doug Miller, Hopkins, Minn.
* Wolfenson/Ratner Community Service Award: Neal Hagberg, Minneapolis, Minn.
* Junior Team Tennis Organizer of the Year Award: Clay Sollenberger, Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center, St. Paul, Minn.
* USTA Northern Member Organization of the Year: Mission Township, Minn.
* USTA Northern President's Award: Kathleen Lundberg (Minneapolis, Minn.)
* USTA Northern ACE Award: Christine Nickels (St. Louis Park, Minn.)
Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award
Meredith Lawrence, of Prior Lake, Minn., is the recipient of the Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award given to the individual or organization who has promoted the growth of tennis for juniors and served the junior tennis community in the USTA Northern.
Lawrence has helped grow the City of Mendota Heights (Minn.) youth tennis program from 80 participants in 2011 to over 250 in 2017. Mendota Heights also boasts one of the largest 7-and-under programs in the state, introducing over 75 youngsters to tennis for the first time each year. Lawrence organizes Junior Team Tennis programming as well, and this summer the 18U Intermediate team advanced to its first-ever Section Championship, placing eighth. Also this summer, Lawrence worked with USTA Northern in bringing the Tennis In Your Park Adult Beginner Lessons program to Mendota Heights and is hoping to start league play in the future. With a wait list for all of her programs, Lawrence is currently working with the Section to upgrade and expand the tennis facilities at Marie Park in Mendota Heights.
“Meredith is great with the kids and equally as great with the parents,” nominator Sloan Wallgren said. “Her enthusiasm and passion for tennis are evident and she has introduced the game to a lot of youth, and now adults, in our community.”
Frank Voigt Pro of the Year
Nguyen Vo of St. Paul, Minn., and the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center, is the 2017 Frank Voigt Pro of the Year given to a tennis teaching professional who demonstrates leadership skills on and off the court.
Vo works with a wide variety of students varying in age and skill levels - including many of the top junior tournament players in the Section. He constructs detailed lesson plans and drills that fit each student’s tennis needs while ensuring everyone is able to improve his or her game in a comfortable environment.
He provides discounted private lessons to many of his under resourced students who show the desire to improve their tennis skills and be a complete person, mentoring all of his players to be kind, humble and respectful human beings. With emphasis on giving back, he practices what he preaches first-hand by organizing volunteer opportunities for the junior players and creating the Nguyen Vo Family Scholarship which provides funds to high school seniors for college application fees and general college expenses, committing $1,000 annually for the next 10 years. He also created a “Wall of Fame” at Fred Wells which recognizes the accomplishments and college aspirations of the high school seniors in the program.
“Nguyen has been one of the most influential figures in my life,” nominator Natalie Tsai said. “He goes beyond the means of a coach as he is a contributor, leader and listener. He often goes unnoticed because of his humbleness, but those who work with him will never forget what Nguyen has done for them in helping them grow in mind, body and spirit.”
Family of the Year
The Allen Family (Erik, Susan, Jackson, Brooks & Lily) of Shakopee, Minn., has been selected as the 2017 Family of the Year. The award is given to the family that has been outstanding in promoting tennis both on and off the court.
Susan is a teaching pro, coach and board member of both USTA Northern and the Shakopee Tennis Association. She has worked with people of all ages and ability levels and was a standout player at St. Cloud State. She is currently spearheading efforts to build an indoor tennis facility in Shakopee. Erik was a star basketball player at Gustavus Adophus and is an active tennis parent and supporter of the Shakopee Tennis Association.
Jackson is a standout tennis player, winning the Minnesota Class AA Singles title (2016) and was a multiple-time USTA Northern Section champion. He was a member of the 2017 USTA National Leadership Team and currently plays at the University of Minnesota. He also teaches lessons with the Shakopee Tennis Association and works with the USTA Northern Team Northern program as a mentor. Brooks plays tennis at Shakopee High School and has played Junior Team Tennis with the Shakopee Tennis Association, while Lily is ranked in the Top 40 of the Section in Girls 12s and plays Junior Team Tennis.
“The Allen Family has dedicated so much time to the sport of tennis both on and off the court,” nominator Kevin Hamlin said. “They put faith, family and the game first and are great role models for all those they come in contact with.”
Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award
The late Marit Swenson of North Oaks, Minn., is the winner of the Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award given to the junior player who not only displays the finest qualities of sportsmanship during tournament play, but who also demonstrates exemplary conduct away from the court.
Swenson was a long-time Junior Team Tennis participant and junior tournament player. She was a member of the Life Time Fitness Fridley team that played at the 2016 Junior Team Tennis National Championships. She played at Mounds View High School and was named a captain for the 2017 season, while also serving as the manager of the Boys tennis team.
In February of 2017, Swenson was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on August 29.
“Marit was God's blessing,” her obituary in the St. Paul Pioneer Press said. “Marit lived life to the fullest and touched others with her love, kindness and positive spirit. Marit had the ability to always find the positive in a person or situation, no matter the challenge. She saw the beauty that most do not see. She was everyone’s Sweet Marit.”
Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award
Kamran Ahrar, of Lakeville, Minn., is the winner of the Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award given to the adult player who best displays fairness, is generous, is a gracious winner and good loser.
A long-time high school, college, USTA League player and captain and USTA Tournament player in the Section, Ahrar is constantly looking to develop and grow tennis in the Section. In addition to his league and tournament play, Ahrar also served as the title sponsor of the Advanced Eye Care Lakeville Open and NTRP Tournament from 2013-15, bringing many of the nation’s best players to the Section.
“Kamran is the epitome of a good sport as he always competes with dignity and class,” Bruce Gullikson said. “With his infectious smile, you can never tell whether he won or lost as he just loves the opportunity to compete. He has helped get many players back into the sport and is always promoting the game by volunteering his time and resources.”
Jack Dow Adult Development Award
Lori Keller of Rapid City, S.D., and the late Rogina Cusic of Bismarck, N.D. are the recipients of the Jack Dow Adult Development Award which honors the individual whose efforts have had the greatest impact on promoting and improving recreational and adult competition for that year.
Keller, who is the Rapid City Area League Coordinator, and Cusic, who was the driving force in promoting adult tennis opportunities in the Bismarck/Mandan area by serving as a player, captain and coach, collaborated the past three years to provide more USTA League opportunities for those in North and South Dakota. With limited numbers, Keller and Cusic worked with USTA Northern’s Nancy Lundberg in forming creative options so teams and players from these areas could qualify for the USTA Northern League Section Championships in the Twin Cities. The teams played a weekend qualifying tournament, organized by Keller and Cusic, of three matches in either Rapid City or Bismarck with the winner advancing to Sections.
“Lori and Rogina should be commended for their dedication to tennis and for giving many ladies in North and South Dakota the opportunity to play more tennis and to compete at the Section championships,” USTA Northern President and nominator Liz Hamburg said. “Their dedication to growing the game is appreciated by all of us in the Dakotas.”
Bob Larson Media Excellence Award
Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald in Grand Forks, N.D., is the 2017 winner of the Bob Larson Media Excellence Award given to the person who has provided exemplary tennis media coverage for his or her local community.
A USTA member and tennis player himself, Schlossman has covered the North Dakota tennis scene at the high school and collegiate level for years, including state tournaments, the outstanding runs by Grand Forks Red River High School, the University of North Dakota
programs and much more. In 2016, he was named the North Dakota Sportswriter of the Year.
He played tennis at Fargo South High School for Vic Youngs in the mid ‘90s. He currently participates in local tennis drills and is a volunteer assistant coach at Minnesota-Crookston.
“What sets Brad apart is that he not only uses his tennis knowledge and expertise to highlight tennis news and events in North Dakota, but also uses that expertise on the court through playing and coaching,” nominator Ryan McGuigan said.
Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Official Award
Doug Miller of Hopkins, Minn., is the winner of the Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Official Award given to an official who has done outstanding work at the grassroots level.
Miller, who has officiated for the last 20 years both in the Section and nationally, works at the junior, high school, college, adult and professional levels as a rover, line, chair and referee. He has been the referee for every major tournament in USTA Northern, as well as Gopher men’s and women’s matches. He has worked lines for a number of professional tournaments in his career, including many US Open Championships. He is a former USTA National Trainer/Evaluator and currently serves as a mentor for all officials in USTA Northern.
“His passion and dedication to his profession and his colleagues is second to none,” fellow official Lisa Mushett said. “He is at every event, available for every phone call and willingly serves as a sounding board for those times when officials have a bad day on the court. He knows Friend At Court like the back of his hand and takes the time to impart his years and years of officiating wisdom on anyone who asks.”
Wolfenson-Ratner Community Service Award
Neal Hagberg of Minneapolis, Minn., is the winner of the Wolfenson/Ratner Community Service Award given to the person for his or her outstanding fieldwork in recreational tennis. It is also awarded for significant contributions in developing community-based tennis programs through community centers, schools, parks and Community Tennis Associations.
Hagberg currently serves as the Director of Tennis & Life Camps at Gustavus Adolphus, assuming that role in 2011, after heading up the “Life” portion of the camps since 2001. Tennis and Life Camps have over 3,000 participants each year take part in its mission of developing in tennis players of all ages and abilities, improved tennis skills and an enriched approach to life.
He is also the chair of GAC’s 40-Love Campaign which is trying to raise $4 million in 40 months to celebrate the past 40 years of Tennis & Life Camps and to secure the future for the next 40 years. He is also a member of the USTA Northern Grants Committee and has been a major contributor to USTA Northern’s Play It Forward campaign, donating over 400 racquets and other equipment from Tennis & Life campers to high school players in need.
“Through his life teaching, tennis knowledge and kind acts, he has changed the lives of so many people in such a positive way,” nominator Greg Emerson said. “He has a heart of gold and is impacting lives on a daily basis.”
Junior Team Tennis Organizer of the Year
Clay Sollenberger of the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center in St. Paul, Minn., is the 2017 Junior Team Tennis Organizer of the Year. The award recognizes an individual for his or her efforts in expanding an existing Junior Team Tennis league or developing a new league within the section.
Sollenberger coached nine teams in 2017, including four as part of the new World Team Tennis program. In the past three years, he has continued the team tennis tradition at Fred Wells, including playing host to Area Championships in 2015 and boasting two finalists at the Junior Team Tennis Section Championships. He is also very active in team tennis forums and conference calls, organizes 10U team events and participates in the Section’s non-summer team tennis offerings.
“Clay has done a great job of keeping up the team tennis tradition at the Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center,” USTA Northern’s Director of Junior Teams Brandon Jackson said. “He understands the uniqueness of team tennis and how it allows kids to participate in a competitive environment while having fun with their friends both on and off the court.”
Member Organization of the Year
Mission Township, Minn., is the 2017 Member Organization of the Year in recognition of its outstanding service and setting the standards in which all organizations should strive to achieve.
This small, but mighty community runs summer-only programming with no paid staff, using strictly volunteers. In the Spring of 2017, the community raised over $12,500 to resurface the existing four courts in town and add blended lines to further develop its junior programming. A former Tennis Welcome Center, Mission Township offers Adult Leagues three days a week for people of all ability levels, Junior Team Tennis, Competition Training Centers, as well as a Sweet Sixteen Camp run by USPTA professional for kids in grades 7-12. This past summer, the community hired a tennis coordinator to run youth programming including a Fun Day and a red-, orange-, green-ball lesson program.
“This non-traditional community has done a lot with limited resources,” former USTA Northern president and nominator Jay Pfaender said. “The tennis facility caters to the weekend and summer dwellers, keeping tennis as a viable option and top of mind for those in this rural community.”