Four USTA Juniors Honored

July 26, 2012

NEWPORT, R.I. — In addition to paying tribute some of the greatest legends of tennis during the recent Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, the International Tennis Hall of Fame also honored four remarkable USTA junior tennis players. The junior players, who hail from all over the nation, were presented the 2011 Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Awards in recognition of their consistent display of outstanding sportsmanship. The 2011 recipients were Andrew Ball of Palo Alto, Calif., Josh Hagar of Austin, Tx., Sierra Halverson of Burtrum, Minn., and Whitney Kay of Alpharetta, Ga. The awards were presented by Hall of Famers Stan Smith and Donald Dell on Saturday, July 14 at the Chubb Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon, just prior to the Class of 2012 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which honored Jennifer Capriati, Gustavo Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Mike Davies, and Randy Snow.

2011 Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award recipients: Whitney Kay, Sierra Halverson, Jack Hagar, and Andrew Ball.

The award is presented annually by the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the four recipients were selected from a nationwide pool of juniors, nominated by each of the 17 sections of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Awards Committee. Each award winner must be a junior player who exemplifies the finest qualities of sportsmanship in tournament play as well as one who maintains the finest traditions of the great sportsmen/women of tennis, past and present. The award is given in honor of 1967 Hall of Famer Bill Talbert, who was known for his high standards of sportsmanship.

This year’s Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award recipients were previously announced by the USTA during the 2012 USTA Annual Spring Meeting. Each winner was presented with their official sportsmanship trophy during the Hall of Fame Weekend in Newport, and the honorees and their families participated in many of the special events centered around the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Andrew Ball of the USTA Northern California section is held in high regard for his success and sportsmanship in both USTA tennis and as a part of his high school team at Menlo School, where he will be a senior in the fall. Ball has received both national and sectional tournament sportsmanship awards throughout the years. At the 2011 USTA Boys’ 18 National Clay Court Championships he was recognized as a Sportsmanship Player of the Day, and at the 2010 and 2011 NorCal Boys’ Sectional Championships, he was also a winner of the daily sportsmanship award. In 2011, he was awarded the Maze Cup Sportsmanship Award. This award is given at the annual NorCal versus SoCal tournament and is selected by the opposing team. Ball is a member of his high school student Athlete Sports Leadership Committee, and he has also received a Faculty Honors award for scholastic recognition. He was named to the 2011 Boy’s All-American Team, by the National High School All-American Foundation, a recognition that is given to select student-athletes who maintain an above average academic and citizenship record, compete on a high school tennis team, and garner an individual national ranking.

Josh Hagar has been an active player and leader in the USTA Texas section for many years. He received the Sportsmanship Award at the USTA National Open in 2006, and has been recognized with numerous sectional sportsmanship awards over the years, including the Clarence Mabry Sportsmanship Award in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Hagar recently graduated from the Austin Tennis Academy, where he was very involved in mentoring the younger students in the school and in the tennis program. In addition to his success and leadership on the tennis court, Hagar is very involved with various philanthropic works. He founded the Playing for Glimmer Campaign in 2008, which has raised more than $300,000 over 4 years to build 28 water wells, 2 schools, and 4 health facilities in rural Ethiopia. Hagar traveled to Ethiopia in 2009 to visit the people who were impacted by these efforts. A school in Ethiopia’s Wuhdut Village was named after Hagar, in appreciation of his work.

Sierra Halverson only became involved with USTA Northern within the past four years, but she has make a remarkable and positive mark on the section during that short time, becoming the top-ranked 16 year-old, and achieving a No. 2 ranking in Girls 18s. She won the 2010 USTA Northern Junior Section Singles Championship in Girls 18s, and also received the 2010 USTA Northern Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award. Nationally, she was awarded the Girls Sportsmanship Award for 16 Zonals in 2009. Halverson is highly active in her local community, volunteering with Community Ed Tennis, a USTA Northern Stars program, and she is a Big Sister in Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. In the fall, Halverson will attend Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, where she will play tennis.

Whitney Kay has been a force in the junior tennis world since she started playing tournaments in the 12s division. As a member of the USTA Southern section, she reached a No. 1 ranking in the section at the age of 14 and has maintained that honor ever since. Nationally, she gained the top spot of the Girls 18s division in 2010 and is currently ranked No. 4. Topping off her on-court success, Kay’s sportsmanlike behavior has been noted by coaches, players, and competitors numerous times. She has received sportsmanship honors from 5 National Open events and 3 USTA Southern Section events, including the 2011 Bill Ozaki Sportsmanship Award, which she shared with her twin brother. Kay was honored twice as Georgia Female Player of the Year, and she was recognized with the USTA Southern Section DeWitt Redgrave III Junior Achievement Award. This fall, Kay will play for the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.