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Awards & Achievements, First-half, 2020

July 29, 2020 05:43 PM

Southern players and organizations are constantly making their mark in the world of tennis. Here's a list of recent awards, achievements and news in the first half of 2020.

2020 Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame Class Announced

Ceremony to be held at the 2021 Truist Atlanta Open

The Georgia Tennis Foundation (GTF) announced today the inductees for the 2020 Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame class. Joining the 69 current members of the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame are Brian Vahaly (Player) and Craig Jones (Coach).

In addition, the Coach Dan Magill Impact Award will be bestowed upon University of Georgia Men’s Tennis Coach Manny Diaz.

“The Hall of Fame Selection committee met and selected two very meritorious new inductees, Brian Vahaly & Craig Jones.” stated Hall of Fame Selection Committee Chairman Richard Howell. “Congratulations to both of them. Furthermore, we are pleased to award Coach Manny Diaz as this year's recipient of the Dan Magill Impact Award."

Brian Vahal, pictured on the right above, moved to Atlanta at a very young age. He proceeded to have a fabulous record throughout his junior career, reaching a high of #17 in the ITF Junior World Rankings, while also winning the prestigious Easter Bowl 18 & under singles title. He went on to have a tremendous collegiate career at the University of Virginia, reaching the 2011 NCAA singles final.

As a professional player, Brian made significant inroads at the highest level of the game, reaching a career high of #64 in the ATP world singles rankings in 2003. That same year, he reached the quarterfinals of the Pacific Life Open (Indian Wells) defeating in order former top 10 players Fernando Gonzalez, Juan Carlos Ferraro & Tommy Robredo. He also reached the semifinals of Memphis.

Brian is currently serving his third non-consecutive term as a member of the USTA Board of Directors. He resides in Washington, DC.

Craig Jones, pictured in the lower left in photo above, of Macon continues to make major impacts in the development of future generations of great players throughout Georgia. An inductee into the Rome & Macon Hall of Fames, he has been producing championship quality players for approximately 37 years, having become a tennis director at the young age of 23. He has produced over 150 players who have received college scholarships and mentored more than 30 of his players as they became coaches and tennis directors themselves. A 10-time Georgia Davis Cup coach and 3 time Southern Intersectional coach, he has won the coveted USTA Georgia Professional of the Year 3 times. In 2010, Craig’s students won an incredible 5 of 10 age divisions contested at the Peach State Junior Qualifier. Craig had a lengthy and very successful career as Director of Tennis at the Coosa Country Club. Since 2005, Craig has served as the Director of Tennis at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon.

Coach Manny Diaz, pictured on the top left in the photo above, is no stranger to the Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame, having been a member of the Class of 2000. In his 32nd season at the helm of the Bulldogs in 2020, he passed the legendary Coach Dan Magill to be the all-time leader amongst SEC coaches with 709 wins. With an 80% winning percentage throughout his tenure at the University of Georgia, Diaz has won 28 SEC Championships, along with 4 NCAA team championships in 1999, 2001, 2007 & 2008 and 7 NCAA team finals appearances. Georgia Tennis Foundation President Cannon Carr gave his acknowledgments: “Congratulations to our Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2020. We look forward to celebrating their accomplishments at the 2021 Truist Atlanta Open. A special thank you to Richard Howell and the Hall of Fame Selection Committee for their efforts.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 will be enshrined in conjunction with the 2021 ATP Truist Atlanta Open, to be held in late July of 2021. Information regarding the evening’s festivities will be made available as it is confirmed. The Sessions Family Georgia Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, located at the USTA Georgia offices in Marietta is the home of Georgia tennis history. During the pandemic, the Museum is open by appointment only. Please contact Darren Potkey for assistance.