USTA to honor grassroots champions

January 10, 2012

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The USTA today announced the ten award winners to be honored during the USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop (CTDW), which will be held at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel in New Orleans, La., January 13-15. The honorees will be recognized in a variety of categories for their dedication to growing the game of tennis at the grassroots level.

This year’s honorees are:

Tennis for Fun Program – Tampa, Fla.

The USTA Adaptive Tennis National Community Service Award was established in 2003. To qualify for a program award, the program must have been in existence for a minimum of three consecutive years. To qualify for an individual award, the recipient must have worked with an Adaptive Tennis program for a minimum of three consecutive years. The USTA bestows this recognition upon a program or program leader that has demonstrated continued excellence, dedication and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.

Cindy Harkins – Longwood, Fla.

The Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award recognizes an individual who perpetuate Kraft’s selfless mission to bring the sport of tennis to everyone who wants to play. Eve F. Kraft was a tennis pioneer whose ability to touch people’s lives exceeded the boundaries of the tennis court. As a teacher, coach, author, USTA staff member and volunteer, Kraft was a lifelong champion of recreational tennis in the United States until her death in 1999. She introduced thousands of young people to tennis, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Justin DePietropaolo – Chester Springs, Pa.

The Janet Louer USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Organizer of the Year Award is presented to an individual who positively influences children’s lives and substantially impacts their community. The award is named after Janet Louer, who was instrumental in the development of junior tennis during her lifetime.

Houston Tennis Association – Houston, Tex.

The Community Tennis Association of the Year Award honors a CTA for outstanding service in growing and developing the sport of tennis in its community. The award recipient is selected from 17 nominees, one from each of the USTA sections, by a panel of USTA Community Tennis Association Committee members.

Rita Gladstone – Port Orange, Fla.

The Recreational On-Court Trainer of the Year Award recognizes an individual from the USTA’s cadre of trainers who promotes the growth of tennis through exemplary on-court training, assists the national office with the direction of the this program, and is very well connected with their Section’s efforts.

Jim Neal – Niskayuna High School, Niskayuna, N.Y. and Jim Solomon – Hall High School, West Hartford, Conn.

The Starfish Award honors high school coaches who implement a “No-Cut” policy for their tennis teams. A No-Cut policy allows every student who wishes to play an opportunity to be a member of the team. More than 3500 coaches nationwide have implemented this initiative. Coaches of these teams serve as positive role models and make a difference by spending the extra time and effort to ensure that thousands of young players experience the fun of representing their high school tennis team.

Fred Wells Tennis & Education – Minneapolis, Minn.; Mary and Frances Youth Center/Lobs & Lessons – Richmond, Va.; and Central Texas Tennis Association – Austin, Tex.

The National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapters of the Year Awards is bestowed upon chapters and programs at three different budget levels to reward those organizations that are able to do more with less. Arthur Ashe, along with Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder, founded the NJTL network in 1969. Ashe envisioned NJTL, as, “a way to gain and hold the attention of young people in the inner cities and their poor environments so that we can teach them about matters more important than tennis.” Since its inception, NJTL has grown to more than 550 chapters across the country, serving more than 225,000 youth each year, making it one of the USTA’s largest community-based offerings.