Talking Tennis Southern Style podcast
John Callen: Retiring after 33 Years, with Randy Stephens
John Callen has headed USTA Southern since 1989 and has announced his retirement effective in January. He tells his personal story of learning tennis in Birmingham, AL, playing as co-captain at Georgia Tech and then moving on to leading the USTA’s largest section for more than three decades. Joining him is his long-time friend, doubles partner, fellow Southern Tennis Hall of Famer and volunteer Randy Stephens. He talks about the many years they have worked to grow tennis in the South. Highlighted this episode are junior Julia Fair Gaines of Belden, MS, and the coach of Maryville (TN) High School Christian Burns.
Southern Tennis Foundation’s Mission and College Scholarships - Nov. 18, 2021
USTA Southern has a charitable arm called the Southern Tennis Foundation that supports hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships, financial aid, NJTL support and other areas. Chairman Derek White and volunteer leaders Paul Pittman and Rex Maynard talk about new college scholarship funds, notably more than $60,000 raised in honor of retiring USTA Southern Executive Director & COO John Callen. The foundation also maintains the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame. Our spotlights feature junior Robert Bauer, of Suwanee, GA, and John Paoletti, the coach of Teurlings Catholic High School in Lafayette, LA.
Pro Tournament Director Ian Van Cott & Tennis Warehouse Podcaster Michelle Heidbrink - Nov. 4, 2021
Looking to watch some of the best players in the world without overcharging your credit card? Ian Van Cott is the tournament director of the very affordable Knoxville Challenger, a USTA Pro Circuit event played at the University of Tennessee’s Goodfriend Indoor Tennis Center. From her podcast – Talk Tennis – to ours, Tennis Warehouse’s Michelle Heidbrink talks holiday gifts and current shoe and equipment shortages. Our highlights feature junior Zayla Ware, of Little Rock, AR, and the coach of Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, NC, Jeff Steed.
Opening Doors: Gay Pioneer Brian Vahaly & Mental Health Author Joanne McCallie - Oct.21, 2021
Brian Vahaly’s journey starts as a top-level junior out of Atlanta. He went onto an outstanding ATP career, topping out at No. 64 in the world. Currently he volunteers as USTA Secretary-Treasurer and became a pioneer as the first ATP pro who has come out as gay. Joanne McCallie says she regrets not playing more tennis as a child (she loves the sport now!) but she did pretty well as a basketball player. She coached the Michigan State women’s basketball team for seven years and 13 seasons leading the Duke women’s team. Her second book, Secret Warrior, covers her struggles with mental health and her advice for athletes struggling with similar issues. In our weekly spotlights are NOLA junior Carley Griffin and Karen Henson, who coaches tennis at Elizabethtown (KY) High School.
Who Plays Tennis? Weather Channel’s Paul Goodloe & UGA Football’s Jim Donnan - Oct. 7, 2021
Paul Goodloe travels the country to cover the weather and reports from the Atlanta-based The Weather Channel. But, when not getting plummeted by a hurricane, he is an avid league tennis player. When you ask Paul about playing tennis in the Peach State capital, he talked about the heat … of course. College Football Divisional Hall of Fame inductee Jim Donnan coached at the University of Georgia from 1996-2000. While a North Carolina State quarterback, he also played varsity tennis player, which probably would never happen today. Currently, Jim is a USTA member and dedicated player. We salute junior Hannah Holt, of Lexington, SC, and North Hall (GA) High School coach Robert Woodworth.
HBCU Covered with D&I Chair James Ewers and Dr. Carl Goodman - Sept. 23, 2021
The Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) National Championships were played in Atlanta last week and we interview two leaders have propelled tennis these important institutions. James Ewers played at Johnson C. Smith University and was just inducted into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame. James is the chair of the USTA Southern Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Coach and Dr. Carl B. Goodman, of Florida A&M University, has run the HBCU tournament for 20 years and talks about the important of tennis at all levels of collegiate sports including Tennis On Campus. We hear from Joseph, Andrew & Sarah Delgado, of High Point, NC, in our Junior Spotlight. Casey Rapp, of Parkers Chapel High School, Eldorado, AR, is recognized as a top coach.
Bill Ozaki on Junior Tournaments & Rebel Good on Officating - Sept. 9, 2021
Dubbed “Mr. Southern Junior Tennis,” Bill Ozaki talks about the Southern Ozaki Junior Cup and his decades helping to develop world-class players like Robby Ginepri, Brian Vahaly and Melanie Oudin. Rebel Good is a veteran tennis official and expert on the rules of tennis. He writes “Court of Appeals” in Tennis magazine and “Stump the Ump” answering rules questions from recreational and tournament players. He also talks about the latest line-calling technology.
With the US Open’s #BeOpen in our focus, USTA, Director, Player Development Martin Blackman, returns as our Grand Slam Correspondent and talks about the strength of American players in the 2021 US Open. Blackman, who won the USTA Boys’ 16s National Championship in 1986, reached a career-high of No. 158 on the ATP Tour. ESPN reporter Kris Budden tells us why she loves to watch tennis on TV even though she’s on football and baseball fields more than tennis courts. Our junior player highlight is the newly-crowned USTA Girls’ 14s doubles champion Riley Crowder, of Dothan, AL. USTA South Carolina VP Craig Wells shines in our high school coach spotlight; he coaches at Daniel HS in Central, SC.
Jeff Ryan & Winston-Salem Open, Black-Owned Business: Chuck & Mike’s Tennis Shop - Aug. 12, 2021
The Winston-Salem Open returns after missing 2020 with a new tournament director, Jeff Ryan. He chats about former US Open champion Marin Cilic, Nick Kyrgios, Kevin Anderson and Olympic bronze medalist Pablo Carreno Busta, who are scheduled to play. We profile a long-time Black-owned business, Chuck and Mike’s Tennis Shop, in Louisville, KY. Owner Charles Ellis describes how his business has thrived by catering to nearby tennis facilities. We highlight junior Ross Johnson, of Madison, MS. Props go to Jemison (AL) High School tennis coach Al Garrett.
Chairs Roundtable About Sectionals with Aaron Browning & Cookie Guarini - July 29, 2021
Aaron Browning, USTA Southern Junior Team Tennis Committee Chair, kicks off our episode on Sectional Championships. USTA Southern, the largest section in USTA, hosts huge championships to determine its Junior Team Tennis and USTA League champions. Southern Sectionals draw more than 5,000 players from July through December. Additionally, USTA North Carolina President Cookie Guarini also serves as the Adult League Committee Chair, and supervises most of those events. She talks about the excitement of teams earning a spot in the USTA nationals. We salute junior Caden Highfill, of Little Rock, AR, and the 2021 USTA Southern Tennis On Campus Club of the Year: Furman University.
Truist Atlanta Open Presented by Fiserv with John Isner, Kim Clijsters & Eddie Gonzalez - July 15, 2021
After last year’s postponement due to COVID-19 and adding a new name, Atlanta’s ATP tournament is ready for play on July 24. The Truist Atlanta Open presented by fiserv is discussed by Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez, five-time champion John Isner on Media Day, and exhibition player Kim Clijsters, who joined virtually. Audio producer Kyle Blackburn and host Sam Crenshaw talk about attending the event. Highlighted are the Killen Family of Bossier City, LA, who won the 2021 USTA Southern Mickey McNulty Family of the Year, and top junior Elizabeth Fauchet, of Brentwood, TN.
Being @ Wimbledon with Jaime Kaplan & Ernie James - July 1, 2021
Southern Tennis Hall of Famer Jaime Kaplan considers playing at Wimbledon one of the fondest memories of her professional career. She talks about her first time visiting the world-famous Centre Court, along with practicing on a private grass court in Macon, GA. From a fan’s point of view, USTA Southern Board Member Ernie James recalls his magical visit to the “cathedral of tennis” and running into numerous tennis friends in London. Our junior spotlight shines on Marietta, GA’s James Weber and we extol the USTA Member Organization of the Year MacGregor Downs Country Club, of Cary, NC.
Juneteenth is Celebrated with Lenny Simpson & Jimmie Coins - June 17, 2021
Southern Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Lenny Simpson leads the award-winning One Love Tennis in Wilmington, NC. Lenny tells the story of him being motivated by the great Althea Gibson who taught him tennis on a tennis court that is now the home of his NJTL association. Jimmie Coins was elected the first Black president of USTA Mississippi. He traces his experience working in the grassroots of the state’s capitol, Jackson, and aims to improve relationships with the Black community. We highlight junior Ethan Bailey, of Columbia, SC, and Male Player of the Year Danny Carlson, of Mableton, GA.
Roll Tide & Roll Wheelchair - June 3, 2021
We are rolling this episode and talking about Wheelchair Tennis. First up is USTA and USTA Southern Wheelchair Tennis Committee Chair Jennifer Edmonson. Jennifer serves as Cajun Classic USTA Southern Wheelchair Championships Tournament Director and accepted the USTA Southern 2011 Wheelchair Tournament of the Year Award. Evan Enquist is the first full-time head Wheelchair Tennis coach for University of Alabama and has been a part of the coaching staff for six USTA Collegiate National Championships, including 2021. A member of the USTA Southern Wheelchair Tennis Committee since 2017 and vice chair in the last two terms, Evan was a leader of Alabama’s club team that received the section’s 2018 Tennis On Campus Club of the Year. Our junior spotlight player is Drew Hedgecoe, of Fayetteville, NC, and Lizl Kotz, of Mount Pleasant, SC, is cited for being named 2020 Slew Hester Female Player of the Year.
Coaching College Tennis with John Shackelford & Amy Bryant - May 27, 2021
With the NCAA tennis championships in full swing, we interview two highly successful NCAA DIII tennis coaches. First up is John Shackelford, Director of Tennis at Sewanee. The Tigers men have won 22 conference championships and the women have captured 13. Shackelford’s women’s team, led by women’s head coach Conchie Shackelford (his wife), will play in the championship quarterfinals next Monday. Amy Bryant, Emory women’s coach, leads a team that has won seven NCAA team titles, six NCAA singles crowns and four doubles crowns. She chats about the pressure of being one of the two leading DIII women’s programs ever. The Emory women are also in the quarters next Monday. Anna Monhartova, of New Orleans, won the 2020 USTA Southern Educational Merit Award for heading up the acclaimed As & Aces.
#NationalTennisMonth / #PowerOfTennis; French Open preview with Martin Blackman - May 13, 2021
May is #NationalTennisMonth and USTA Southern is promoting the #PowerOfTennis this month. In a remarkable surge, four million Americans took up tennis last year. Two of our nine states are represented in detailing outreach to keep those players on court. USTA South Carolina President James McKissick and USTA North Carolina Executive Director Kelly Gaines talk about how new players are being converted through connections to communities and governments. Additionally, we continue in our coverage of Roland Garros from last week as USTA’s Martin Blackman returns as our Grand Slam Correspondent.
French Open preview with Kathy Rinaldi - May 6, 2021
Kathy Rinaldi has been in the tennis spotlight since she won her first Wimbledon match at only 14 years of age. Four years later, she beat Steffi Graf to win the WTA title at Mahwah and also reached No. 7 in the world. Now, she watches American players to see how far they can go and talks about the upcoming French Open/Roland Garros. She heads up women’s tennis for the USTA with the high-profile role as captain of the USA’s Billie Jean King Cup (formerly Fed Cup) team and the Olympics women’s coach. Also interviewed is Dan Wolken, SEC writer for USA Today. Dan is a dedicated rec tennis player who was on the court more than he expected last year. We highlighted junior player Micah Pierce of New Orleans, LA, and Tennis On Campus Leader of the Year Brendan Healey of Clemson.
April is Autism Awareness Month - April 22, 2021
We focus on our special players and the outstanding Southerners who support our autistic community. We start with Debi and John Sweatt, parents of Rachel Sweatt, of Hot Springs, AR. Under the tutelage of her tennis-playing father, Rachel has risen though tournament play. This month she finished fifth in the 4.0 level of the USTA NTRP National Singles Championships. She also plays in special events and has been accepted as a rising star for the Special Olympics. College tennis players and coaches are also supporting autistic players. North Carolina State women’s tennis coach Simon Earnshaw talks about how the women’s and men’s tennis teams host with the Abilities Tennis Winter Chill. The event, now running for 12 years, won the USTA Southern 2020 Special Tennis Event of the Year. Another award winner is profiled: Southern Tennis Professional of the Year Lane Hinson, of Columbia, SC. Props also go out to our junior spotlight player, Goshen, KY’s Willow Renton.
Talking Baseball & Tennis with Chipper Jones - April 8, 2021
Sports experts agree that playing more than one sport improves an athlete’s performance. We’ve got two baseball standouts talking about their love of tennis. Not many Atlanta Braves players are better known than Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, who is now playing mixed doubles with his wife, Taylor Higgins Jones. He says his court time is keeping him in shape as he works on speeding up his serve. Also, chatting about two sports is Tres Gonzalez, Georgia Tech’s left fielder. Gonzalez, son of Truist Atlanta Open Tournament Director Eddie Gonzalez, had the talent to play tennis on the college level. Pro tennis comes to Charleston and we interview Volvo Car Open Tournament Director Bob Moran. We highlight USTA Southern’s Mac MacDougal Official of the Year Karen Badger-Mabry, of Grayson, GA.
USTA Southern Award Winners - March 25, 2021
USTA Southern celebrates the winners of our 2020 awards. Louisiana’s Bossier City and Shreveport won four awards. Rhonda Rubben is the president of the Northwest Louisiana Community Tennis Association that won the CTA award and chats about its successful programs and the other award winners. Heading up the NJTL Chapter of the Year winner – the Rising Stars of Kentucky in Louisville – are Charles Crawford (also 2020 Diversity & Inclusion Champion) and Bruce Stone. Rising Stars focuses on education, a top goal for all successful NJTLs. Our health benefit of tennis explains how the sport works as a stress reliever. Another award winner is Amy Brandon, of Mooresville, NC, who received the Marilyn Sherman Spirit Award. Our highlighted junior is Peter Smith III, of Dorchester, SC.
Women's History Month: Three USTA Southern Presidents - March 11, 2021
Women’s History Month is celebrated by chatting with three ground-breaking women. Former USTA Southern Presidents & CEOs Bonnie Vandegrift & Paula Hale talk together about their paths to leading the USTA’s largest section and their roots working with USTA North Carolina. In another interview Lucy Garvin, who also served as USTA Chairman of the Board, goes into detail about heading American tennis on the national and international stages. We highlight 9-year-old Addy Shepard, Jonesboro, AR, who has had to face her older sister, Emma, in a junior tournament. 2020 USTA Southern No-Cut Starfish Award winner is Memphis, TN’s Tony Cherone is profiled.
Black History Month - Feb. 25, 2021
Our two interviews feature Black History Month. Dr. Harriet Kimbro-Hamilton is currently an Associate Professor at Tennessee State University. At Fisk University, she spent 13 years as Head Coach, Associate Athletic Director and Athletic Director. She has received three national awards from the Women’s Sports Foundation, the National Association of Girls and Women in Sport when given the Dr. Nell C. Jackson Award, and inducted into the Temple University League for Entrepreneurial Women Hall of Fame. She wrote Daddy's Scrapbook, Henry Kimbro of the Negro Baseball League, A Daughter's Perspective, about her father’s life as a Negro League baseball player and a successful African-American businessman. Alan Green is the most successful coach in the nearly 100-year history of Xavier University of Louisiana. He is a three-time Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Coach of the Year, winning the men's award in 2017 and 2016 and the women's award in 2013. Highlighted are Cole Camp of the University of Alabama who won the 2020 USTA Southern Wheelchair Excellence Award and junior Davis Taylor of Brookhaven, GA.
Australian Open Analysis by Martin Blackman - Feb. 11, 2021
USTA, Director, Player Development Martin Blackman gives us insight into the 2021 Australian Open field, focusing on American players. Blackman, who reached a career-high ATP ranking of No. 158, joined us last year to preview the US Open. One of the top USTA Southern volunteers - who served as Secretary and USTA Georgia President - is Marcy Hirshberg, of Johns Creek, GA. She was honored with the Racquet Sports Industry magazine’s 2020 Adaptive Tennis Champion of the Year. Hirshberg serves as Vice Chair of the USTA Adaptive Tennis Committee. We are highlighting junior McLean Murray, of Lookout Mountain, TN, and USTA Southern Director of Diversity, NJTL & Grants Cee Jai Jones, the welcoming voice that starts our podcast.
From the Top: USTA Southern President Randy Jackson - Jan. 28, 2021
We go to the top with an in-depth interview from recently elected USTA Southern President & CEO Randy Jackson, of Fort Smith, AR. Randy describes his goals for 2021, including focusing on growing tennis in public parks. He also talks about supporting the section’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee as we move into Black History Month. In our second segment, Alexandria Agee of Bigger Picture Sports serves the Black community in Atlanta with personalized activism messaging on tennis racquets. Highlighted are junior Ansley Carpenter, of Newnan, GA, and USTA Kentucky Senior Manager of USTA Adult Leagues Kathy Klein.
Martin Luther King Day Commemorated - Jan. 14, 2021
Coach Kenny Thorne, men’s tennis coach of Georgia Tech in Atlanta, talks about the influence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the creation of the MLK Invitational Tournament. Thorne, the winningest tennis coach in Georgia Tech history and former No. 121 player in the world, also spoke about his players having Election Day off to vote and other socially conscious initiatives. Torrey Hawkins of the Atlanta Youth Tennis and Education Foundation and Atlanta Police Officer Clayton Sanders join the MLK Holiday edition of Talking Tennis Southern Style.
Talking Tennis Southern Style - 2020 podcasts
Click here for the first season (2020) of Talking Tennis Southern Style.
Southern Tennis FoundationNovember 18, 2021Southern Tennis Foundation’s Mission and College Scholarships with Chairman Derek White and volunteers Paul Pittman & Rex Maynard Read More
John Callen to RetireJune 14, 2021John Callen, currently the longest serving USTA section executive director, announced his retirement, effective Jan. 31, 2022. Read More
Paul Scarpa ScholarshipsMarch 12, 2021The Southern Tennis Foundation announced the establishment of the Paul Scarpa Scholarships. Read More