Originally Published: February 23, 2016 12:08 p.m.
This past Friday evening at the Phoenix Country Club, approximately 200 people met at a wonderful sit-down dinner to enjoy a banquet and awards ceremony in a combined effort by the United States Tennis Association Southwest and the United States Professional Tennis Association sections to give praise and recognition to each organization's top individuals and volunteers.
The USTA Southwest is a not-for-profit tennis association comprising more than 200 member organizations and just over 13,000 individual members. Our territory encompasses the states of Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso County in Texas. It relies on membership and fundraising to reach its mission, which is simply to "promote and develop the growth of tennis in the Southwest." It is operated by a full-time staff and located in Scottsdale. They are supported by an enthusiastic corps of volunteers who willingly donate their time and energy to support the many programs and efforts in its local communities.
The USPTA is under the auspices of the United States Professional Teaching Association and it works in a sense of cooperation, dedication and focus toward seeing this great sport of tennis continue to grow and prosper as the global leader in tennis-teacher certification and professional development that raises the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches, and promotes a greater awareness of the sport.
Both organizations work hand-in-hand in a sense of cooperation, dedication and focus toward seeing this great sport of tennis continue to grow and prosper.
Thirteen special presentations were made by the USTA and eight by the USPTA as well as two new members inducted into the 2015 Hall of Fame, Tony Bull and Victoria Palmer-Heinicke - great players and volunteers with a lifetime of moments that they did for tennis and tennis did for them.
Each person had a special story to tell. Some were recognized as the top players for this past year, juniors and adults; others for coaching, volunteering, special events, facilities, and such.
Northern Arizona had four mentions of merit and recognition that were humbly received, which coming out of the more rural areas of our fine state shows we have some interesting things happening.
Larry Lineberry from Sedona received the "Community Tennis Volunteer of the Year" award from the USTA. He has been a driving influence in growing tennis in Northern Arizona, serving in virtually every possible leadership role, raising funds for the district, coaching and always advocating for the USTA.
Kaitlyn Verferth, who hails from Flagstaff, was the USTA "Adult Player of the Year."
Verfuerth's game as a wheelchair tennis champion has gone global - as she represented the United States at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Antalya, Turkey. She's currently ranked inside the top 20 in the world in the ITF rankings (No. 2 in the USA), is a USTA Southwest volunteer and has also served as an assistant high school tennis coach for the Flagstaff High for the last couple years.
The USPTA awarded Yavapai College from Prescott the "USPTA Southwest Small Tennis Facility of the Year."
This seven-court facility on the campus of Yavapai College was totally rebuilt in 2014 (the old facility was 40 years old and falling apart) with massive community support and effort to the tune of $200,000 in contributions by local players, businesses and foundations. The tennis portion of this long-due improvement was approximately $850,000 in expense and the money raised in partnership helped make this project come together.
The all new lighted and post-tension courts built to last are managed in a manner where the first year in operation raised more than $30,000 in user fees, of which about $11,000 went to management and programing of the facility with the balance to help off-set up-keep and other future costs such as resurfacing every six or seven years, nets, windscreens, etc. The idea is to not have to rely on crisis management and the facility is humming with activity in all regards.
I was lucky enough to receive the "USPTA Southwest Star Award."
Blessed with getting to move to Prescott in 1985 from working in the resort business in the Phoenix area and now surrounded by some of the greatest people and lovers of tennis a person could imagine. We as a group have parlayed the game of tennis in our area into a family of healthy and safe fun, crazy friendships and special events to enjoy where we are joined by people from all over the state and further.
We have pulled together and organized a solid local tennis association (PATA) and rallied our own volunteers to help create all kinds of programs for the whole community to gain from - now and into the future.
I am proud of our accomplishments and foresight and hope in the future to keep progressing the idea that tennis facilities need the following to be successful: A voice, such as our local PATA organization; small user fees, crisis management doesn't work; a pro and shed with programing at each public facility. (Why spend that kind of money is it isn't going to be used properly?) And a fair contract for the pro with a parks and recreation mentality so everyone can easily become a part of all the wonderful things that tennis has offer.
Too bad you all couldn't have been there - it was a tennis player's slice of heaven to hear the things going on in the Southwest for the game we all love, tennis.