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2016 Annual Meeting Awards

March 15, 2016 12:50 PM

Tennis grows strongest at its grass roots, which is why every year at the Annual Meeting, the USTA celebrates those who have helped to grow and develop the sport in their community. The 2016 honorees came from all backgrounds and all sections to be recognized for their outstanding dedication to growing tennis at a local level.

They were honored at the 2016 USTA Annual Meeting and Conference, March 11-14, at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif. 
Meet the USTA Annual Award honorees (click on the headlines in bold to view video):

Anthony Lara: Brad Parks Award

Anthony Lara of Chino, Calif., was presented with the Brad Parks Award for his outstanding contribution in helping grow tennis at the local level. The Brad Parks award is presented annually and honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game.

Lara, a U.S. Paralympic representative, travels around the country as a motivational speaker promoting "Living a Productive Healthy Lifestyle," for the advancement of the disabled. 

Lara’s career highlights include being a member of the USTA High Performance national team in 2003 and the U.S. Open “second draw” men’s open singles champion in 2006. He has traveled to compete as an alternate for the U.S. team in the Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, in 2008, and he went to Turkey to compete in the 2013 BNP Paribas World Team Cup.

“Anthony Lara has for years been an inspiration and true leader of wheelchair tennis, a true work horse when it comes to organizing and promoting events,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “He has devoted so much time and effort to promoting wheelchair tennis, and is very deserving of the Brad Parks Award.”

Cora Masters Barry: NJTL Founders’ Award

Cora Masters Barry of Washington, D.C., was presented with the USTA Foundation National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Founders’ Service Award. The NJTL Founders’ award was created to recognize an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education, delivers outstanding service to under-resourced children with free or low-cost tennis and provides education and life-skills programming. The award is given to those best reflecting the values of NJTL founders Arthur Ashe, Charles Pasarell and Sheridan Snyder.

In 2001, Barry started the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center (SETLC), the first of its kind in Washington and a prototype for the nation. Recognizing the importance of both sports and education, the SETLC carries the motto, “tennis is the hook, but education is the key,” and provides a variety of programs to thousands of under-resourced children during after-school hours. Programs include tennis, technology center, academic tutoring, mentoring, SAT prep, chess and a Sew & Know Entrepreneur program. 

In 2005, the SETLC was named “Youth Tennis and Learning Facility” of the year by the USTA and honored that year at the US Open. In addition, for the past seven years, Masters Barry has been the visionary behind the SETLC’s annual living history program. The program is sponsored by Barry’s organization, Blacks in Wax, which features more than 70 youth at the world-renowned John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and in the SETLC community. Blacks in Wax portrays historical African-American icons such as Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson and Venus and Serena Williams. 

“For so many years, Cora Masters Barry has exemplified true leadership in the sport of tennis,” said Dan Faber, executive director, USTA Foundation. “We applaud her dedication to providing kids the opportunity to succeed in tennis and academics while encouraging them to understand the importance of positive life skills.”

Youth Tennis San Diego: Organization Member of the Year Award

Youth Tennis San Diego (YTSD), located in San Diego, was honored with the USTA Organization Member of the Year Award. The award is given annually to an organization that provides outstanding service to its members and to the local community.

YTSD is a nonprofit organization that promotes and develops tennis opportunities for junior players throughout San Diego County. YTSD’s mission is to promote the educational, physical and social development of all youth through organized tennis and educational activities. YTSD’s commitment is that no child who wants to play tennis in San Diego will be turned away because of his or her inability to pay a fee.

YTSD celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2012. And this year, the organization celebrated 20 years of operation at its home base tennis facility, the Barnes Tennis Center. Since its formation in 1952, YTSD has conducted junior tournaments and hosted an annual junior awards banquet. Today, more than 700 kids play weekly in junior programs and more than 900 kids participate in junior tennis camps for eight weeks each summer.

“The work that [YTSD Executive Director] Kerry Blum and her staff at Youth Tennis San Diego have done over the years is just remarkable. They offer a variety of play opportunities for players of all ages and abilities,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “It’s a model local tennis organization that focuses on community engagement through grass-roots programming.”

Griffin Family: Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year

The Griffin family of San Diego was presented with The Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award. The award, created by the USTA in 1965, is given annually to a family that volunteers its time to promote amateur tennis, emphasizing the theme that tennis is a family game.

Stan and Jo Griffin have been married for more than 60 years and have always been active in tennis. They passed on their love of the game to their three sons, Chaz, Geoff and Jack. 

At a young age, Stan began teaching tennis for extra income and increased his involvement when he became a board member of the San Diego Tennis Patrons, now known as Youth Tennis, in the 1960s. He was also a one-time president of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Even today, at age 88, Stan still finds time to volunteer up to 15 hours a week at the Balboa Tennis Club pro shop. He is also still very active with the Wounded Warriors program, Tennis Fest and Tennis Thanks the Troops events. He was also an avid senior competitor and through his 50s and 60s, representing Great Britain in the Senior Davis Cup. 

Jo was born into a tennis family; her parents owned a tennis club in Toronto, Canada. She was a highly ranked tournament player and won the Canadian Junior Championships at 16. By 18, she was ranked No. 1 in the juniors in Canada and played in the prestigious Junior Orange Bowl. Jo once made it to the quarterfinals of the Women’s 40s National Hardcourts, held at her local La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Now 80, she still plays tennis socially and remains active in keeping the tennis tradition alive in the family. 

The Griffins’ eldest son, Chaz, is the director of varsity tennis for San Diego High School. Their middle son, Geoff, has been a San Diego District Tennis Association board member for 22 years and president for four years. He has also been a Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) board member for eight years, and United States Professional Teaching Association (USPTA) board member for 25 years, serving four of those years as president.

Stan and Jo’s youngest child, Jack, has been a college coach for many years, serving as an assistant coach at the University of New Mexico and the head women’s coach at the University of Oregon.

“The USTA salutes the Griffin family, for the tremendous impact it has made, not only in San Diego but on the entire Southern California tennis community,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “The Griffins’ ongoing efforts on and off the court have helped grow and expand tennis programs throughout the region.”

David Sommer: Seniors’ Service Award

David Sommer of Minneapolis was presented with the annual Seniors’ Service Award. The Seniors’ Service Award was established in 1958 to recognize and honor a person for service to senior tennis. It is awarded annually on the basis of the recipient’s willingness, cooperation and participation – either in play or organizational work – to work for the betterment of senior tennis competition.

Sommer recently retired from editing the popular Senior Tennis Times newsletter and managing the Senior Tennis Players Club website (seniortennismn.org), which are major communications pieces for senior tennis players. The Senior Tennis Players Club is the largest group of its kind in the nation, with more than 1,100 members. Its primary purpose is to provide tennis playing opportunities to people 50 and over for their mental, physical and social well-being, and to support the growth of tennis. Sommer has also maintained the group’s website and member database, in addition to performing other computer-related responsibilities. 

Sommer has played tennis for more than 60 years and is an active USTA League participant. He helped promote the Minnesota Senior Tennis Games in 2014 as well as the National Senior Tennis Games in Minneapolis last summer that featured more than 700 players. 

“David truly epitomizes tennis being the sport for a lifetime with his more than six decades as a tennis player, volunteer and leader in our sport,” said Kurt Kamperman, chief executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “David’s commitment to tennis has been unmatched over the years and we applaud his volunteer effort in the Minneapolis area.”

Charlotte Johnson: USTA Volunteer Exceptional Service Award

Charlotte Johnson of El Paso, Texas, was presented with the inagural USTA Volunteer Exception Service Award for her more than 10 years of service and contribution to grow tenis at the local level. 

Johnson has served as the USTA Southwest Section president and a USTA national level volunteer since 1997, working on many different committees. From 2005 to 2012 she served on the USTA League Tennis Committee, actively serving in various capacities helping to draft regulations, create marketing strategies and run League National Championships, among other duties. In fact, she chaired a subcommittee that came up with the recommendation to implement a comprehensive “League Restructure” plan that was adopted by the League Committee.

Johnson also served on the Leadership/Executive Committee from 2008 to 2011, and in 2008, while serving as the Southwest Section President, she was selected by the other 16 USTA sectional presidents to serve as chair of the Sectional Presidents’ Committee. Since 2013, Johnson has served on the USTA Nominating Committee. 

“For close to 20 years, Charlotte Johnson has served the tennis community as a national level volunteer,” said USTA Chairman, CEO and President, Katrina Adams. “It’s people like Charlotte who continue to make our game great by giving up time and volunteering so unselfishly.”

Starting this year, the Volunteer Exceptional Service Award recognizes two of the most outstanding USTA volunteers – one to a volunteer with more than 10 years of service and one to a volunteer with up to 10 years of service.

Jeff Baill: USTA Volunteer Exceptional Service Award

Jeff Baill of Plymouth, Minn., was presented with the inagural USTA Volunteer Exception Service Award for his service and contribution to grow tenis at the local level.

Baill is a former USTA Northern Section president and is the current vice chair of the USTA Grievance Committee. He served on the USTA Nominating Committee, 2013-14, and was the chairman of the Presidents Committee, 2011-12. During his time as president of USTA Northern, Baill was instrumental in pushing for the publication of the “Safety, Security and Sensitivity” pamphlet by the USTA. He has presented multiple elective programs at USTA national meetings, including: Best Practices for Volunteers, New Attendee Orientation and Nominating Committee Process. Some of these electives were also presented as webinars.

“As a former USTA Section president, Jeff has been a leader in not only his local tennis community, but also serving on the national level,” said USTA Chairman, CEO and President, Katrina Adams. “It’s people like Jeff who continue to make our game great by giving up their time and volunteering so unselfishly.”

Starting this year, the Volunteer Exceptional Service Award recognizes two of the most outstanding USTA volunteers – one to a volunteer with more than 10 years of service and one to a volunteer with up to 10 years of service.