2008 Junior Development Champion of the Year: Chuck Kuhle
A former professional player who competed on the U.S. and Swiss satellite circuits, Chuck Kuhle of Decatur, Ill., has extensive experience practicing what he teaches as director of tennis at the Decatur Athletic Club. In this role since 1980, Kuhle has trained sectional and national level juniors, including four Illinois high school champions. He is also head coach of the Middle and Southern Illinois USTA Competition Training Center; president of the Decatur Community Tennis Foundation; and tournament director of a men’s $10,000 Futures tournament since its inception in Decatur 10 years ago.
Kuhle, a USTPA master professional, has now earned another accolade: RSI’s Junior Development Champion of the Year.
USTA Pro Circuit Director Brian Earley praises Kuhle for his insight in using the Futures tournament, which is held every July at the Decatur Park District, as the “centerpiece” for growing the game in the city. “Chuck sees beyond his role of running the tournament to promoting tennis in the community at large,” Earley says. “He’s low-key and doesn’t look for a lot of pats on the back, and that’s why he gets them.”
Kuhle says he encourages all ages to play tennis because he truly believes in the sport’s lifelong physical and social benefits. And while the Futures competitors provide an example to which juniors can aspire, its proceeds have funded local grassroots initiatives including subsidized tennis programs; tennis equipment for the city’s public schools; and court renovation, a new clubhouse, and other upgrades to the public park facility.
The benefits, however, aren’t all tangible. Kuhle was just as excited to hear that two tournament volunteers have become friends and now play tennis together. “The tournament has a tremendously positive influence on tennis in Decatur,” he says.
- Keep it interesting. Pay extra attention to beginners, but offer a variety of social and competitive programming to meet the needs and interests of all levels.
- Recognize achievements. Publicize tournament results and other accomplishments in newsletters and local papers.
- Leverage professional events. By watching the pros, youngsters gain a better understanding of the work ethic required to earn a college scholarship or even become pros themselves.
See all articles by Cynthia Cantrell
About the Author
Cynthia Cantrell is a contributing editor of Tennis Industry magazine.