Tennis Industry magazine

 

Section Stars!

We offer our thanks and appreciation to these 17 volunteers and staff who work tirelessly behind the scenes to grow our sport.

By Cynthia Cantrell

All 17 USTA sections are dedicated to spreading tennis at the grassroots — to delivering the programs that will help bring people into the game, keep them in the sport and have them playing more frequently.

And in each section, there are many dedicated staff and volunteers who truly take tennis to heart. They want to get more people playing the game because they know the lifelong benefits that tennis can bring.

While we won’t ever be able to honor all of these dedicated and unselfish heroes of the sport in these pages, we are pleased to recognize at least some of the many “section stars” who keep this game growing.

Caribbean: ARLIN HERNANDEZ

Arlin Hernandez, a Spanish teacher and Army Reserve soldier, began working for USTA Caribbean as a messenger in 2004. He was called to active duty in Iraq the following year, and upon his return, was promoted to Tennis Service Representative to implement tennis programs for schools, communities and minimum-security jails.

Hernandez was called up two more times by the military, for which he most recently served as captain in charge of a large battalion in Afghanistan. Now the TSR manager and community coordinator, he works on all USTA programs and promotes the sport among the wheelchair population and in disadvantaged schools and regions. In fact, he helped develop Olivencia Tennis, the 2013 NJTL/USTA Chapter of the Year Award winner.

Dedicated to serving his country, Hernandez also is dedicated to serving this sport, promoting the game and developing all individuals

Eastern: JEFF ROTHSTEIN

As director of junior development and 10 and Under Tennis at Centercourt Athletic Club in Chatham, N.J., Jeff Rothstein has embraced the importance of the USTA’s “youth imperative” and served the Eastern Section admirably. He is a member of the section’s Board of Directors and serves on its Junior Competition Committee.

“Jeff stands out because of his attitude,” says Jill Fonte, Eastern’s executive director. “He is truly committed to serving the section and the sport, and in so doing, he is thoughtful, deliberate and generous with his time.”

Rothstein is also chair of the USTA’s National Junior Sportsmanship Subcommittee, a Zonals and USTA High Performance coach, and a USTA- and ITA-certified official.

“Wherever Jeff can serve tennis, he serves tennis,” adds Julie Bliss, Eastern’s senior director of competition. “He never fails to answer whenever we put out a call for help.”

Florida: SCOTT COLEBOURNE

Soon after Scott Colebourne became director of tennis at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation in 2012, he committed to making tournament tennis a better entry-level experience for youth and families. And those discussions were the beginning of the USTA Florida Earned Advancement Pathway.

Colebourne is PTR-certified in adult and junior development, and USTA-certified in junior programming. He is a national tester and tournament director, and has coached nationally ranked juniors and sectional winning USTA adult teams. As a junior, he was nationally ranked in the Top 5 in New Zealand.

“What I admire and respect about Scott the most is that he ‘gets it,’” says Andy McFarland, associate executive director of USTA Florida. “He gets how we have to offer and provide more quality play and competition opportunities for kids. He’s a special breed of tennis teacher that sees a bigger picture.”

Hawaii Pacific: PETER DUNGCA

Leading the way in the latest and greatest initiatives to grow tennis, Peter Dungca is the ace in the Hawaii Pacific Section. After success in teaching adults at the local park, Dungca turned his focus to serving youth tennis. Six years later, he organized the Makiki Junior Tennis Club, which has become a hub for youngsters in Honolulu.

Dungca, who has embraced 10 and Under Tennis, is involved in school tennis, tennis festivals, Play Days, junior tournaments and Junior Team Tennis, which uses red, orange and green balls and integrates fun games. He welcomes parents on the court, developing them into volunteer coaches to support the growth of the program.

In addition, Dungca manages the Waikiki Tennis Club, volunteers with the Ala Moana Park Wheelchair Tennis program and continues his adult programs.

Mid-Atlantic: JANET PAULSEN

How does a professional opera singer become general manager of the largest indoor court tennis facility in the Mid-Atlantic region? Through passion, hard work and a sense of fun.

Janet Paulsen has been running the Green Spring Racquet Club in Lutherville, Md., for the past eight years, offering a variety of USTA programs, 10 and Under Tennis, tournaments and a USTA Competitive Training Center. In 2014, the club hosted two national-level junior tournaments.

To give back to the tennis community, Paulsen established the nonprofit Green Spring Tennis and Educational Foundation, which runs USTA Adult Leagues and USTA Junior Team Tennis, in addition to a variety of community outreach and adaptive tennis programs. The foundation also provides full and partial financial assistance for disadvantaged participants.

Paulsen aims to continue to grow the game of tennis, with plans to emphasize outreach programs — which hits all the right notes for this sport.

Middle States: BRUCE LEVINE

Considering his vast involvement throughout the tennis community, Bruce Levine’s influence on tennis is difficult to document. Simply put, he’s as influential as they come.

The general manager of Courtside Racquet Club in New Jersey, Levine has done a bit of everything in the tennis industry. From high-level coach and player to equipment adviser for Tennis magazine, his involvement includes board positions at USTA Middle States and USPTA Middle States, as well as leadership roles within the Tennis Industry Association retail group and the Cardio Tennis Global Team.

Levine’s impact locally has spurred the growth of a multitude of tennis programming. He speaks on the business benefits of USTA programs, and how those programs have been a catalyst for growth in his own business.

Levine’s special events, which include fundraisers and special clinics, are some of the strongest in the section. A popular and highly effective tennis instructor, his players continue to come back for more.

— Michael Gladysz

Midwest: JEFF & BRYAN SMITH

You may catch a glimpse of Jeff or Bryan Smith courtside at Wimbledon or the US Open, but you’ll also see them cheering on their students who are playing at some of the premier colleges and universities in the country.

Jeff and Bryan, a father and son coaching team based on the south side of Indianapolis, are one of the most successful coaching operations in the USTA Midwest Section. Even without their own training facility, they continually produce nationally ranked juniors, many of them state champions, who drive hours for their daily or weekly lessons.

Bryan says it’s all about helping kids achieve their greatest potential. “There’s a focus on getting them to take pride in working hard,” he says, “and thinking that there’s no other place they would want to be.”

— Tracy Maymon

Missouri Valley: SCOTT HANOVER

Scott Hanover, who is in his second term as president of Missouri Valley, has been a longtime supporter of the sport through his involvement in district, sectional and national USTA committees. The director of tennis at the Plaza Tennis Center in Kansas City, Mo., he is also a member of the Section Board of Directors, and the USTA National CTA and Tennis in the Parks Committee.

An accomplished 4.0 singles, doubles and mixed doubles player, Hanover organizes, conducts and competes in WTT Rec Leagues, USTA Flex Leagues, wheelchair training and 10 and Under Tennis workshops.

His professional involvement in tennis began in 1987, as an activities director overseeing leagues and tournaments at the former Racquet Club West in Des Moines, Iowa. His long list of awards and recognitions includes the USTA Missouri Valley’s Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

— Andrew Robinson

New England: MICHAEL MERCIER

Michael Mercier is the head tennis professional at Harvard University, but his more than two decades of involvement in wheelchair tennis at every level — local, sectional and national — has led to many honors and much recognition, including being named Tennis Industry magazine’s 2008 Wheelchair Tennis Champion of the Year.

“Mike has been an active, devoted, energetic and passionate volunteer for decades,” says Heather Anastos, USTA NE director of competitive tennis and interim co-executive director. “His efforts include growing tennis not only through introducing new people to the sport, but also by helping those with disabilities learn how they can find a new avenue to make friends and stay fit.”

Currently, Mercier chairs New England’s Wheelchair Tennis Committee and is a member of the national Tennis on Campus Committee. But he also has long assisted USTA NE with many initiatives and projects. This year, he is coordinating the first-ever league team at the 3.0 level with a wheelchair player as a member.

Northern: LES ZELLMANN

In the town of St. James, Minn., Les Zellmann noticed a shift in demographics as more Hispanic families began relocating to the small western town with a population of 4,500. As the activities administrator at the local high school, the boys’ and girls’ tennis coach and president of the St. James CTA, Zellmann focused on involving this ever-growing community in tennis.

Through personal conversations, free clinics, Hispanic mentorships, scholarships, discounted equipment and special tennis events, he has sparked a tennis revolution in St. James.

“If we can get even one additional family member involved with our programs,” he says, “we stand a greater chance of getting the rest of the family involved.”

As his programs continue to grow, what advice would Zellmann — who won the USTA Northern Community Service Award in 2013 — give to other small-town communities hoping to attract more diverse populations to tennis? “Embrace the challenge. There is no magic. Just keep at it.”

— Lisa Mushett

Northern California: LINDA PELTZ

San Francisco native Linda Peltz is the epitome of service and dedication to tennis in Northern California. After earning her PTR certification in 1992, she has taught tennis to children in after-school programs, coached a high school novice tennis team, and began a tennis program at the California School for the Deaf. She is a NorCal board member and has served on 10 USTA NorCal committees and two USTA National committees.

Peltz was named Leagues Volunteer of the Year and also presented with the inaugural USTA Northern California Betty Cookson Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, she has chaired the annual Celebrity Tennis Classic for five years, raising more than $1 million for the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

“The impact Linda has had on our tennis community has been enormous,” says Steve Leube, NorCal executive director. “She is a great example of giving back to a sport that has given so much to her.”

Southern: PAT DEVOTO

In 1980, Pat Devoto was among a small group of volunteers who jumpstarted USTA League Tennis, a grassroots innovation that has grown into a national program of 500,000 players. But that was just the beginning of her involvement in the USTA.

Devoto has been vice president of USTA Georgia, president of USTA Atlanta, Southern’s state league coordinator and a member of the USTA League Committee.

She founded and has served as the tournament director of the Atlanta-based Southern Cities Championship for 17 years, which has raised thousands of dollars for charities. The winner of the 2013 Jacobs Bowl and 2005 Charlie B. Morris Jr. Service Award, she is also involved in the Reading for Racquets program and teaches female inmates to read and play tennis at a state prison in Montgomery.

An accomplished author, her latest novel, The Team, is about — not surprisingly — a women’s tennis team.

— Ron Cioffi

Southern California: MARK McCAMPBELL

Mark McCampbell has been “Mr. Oxnard Tennis Center” (OTC) since he took over the eight lighted courts, clubhouse, pro shop and locker-room facility from his brother, John, in 1989. OTC is public park to its Southern California core.

“I am proudest of the fact that we have taken so many LA84/NJTL beginners to Junior Team Tennis to tournament competitors,” he says, while noting the myriad of lesson, league tennis and tournament opportunities for adults.

Elite juniors have showcased his Tennis mAcademy. OTC is also the home of the Central Coast area Competitive Training Center.

A Zonal coach for 15 years, McCampbell has served on the Ventura County Junior Tennis Association board, hosted college and university seminars and co-founded the All-Star Tennis League. — Mark Winters

Southwest: TRACY LAWSON

Long hours on tennis courts in blazing desert sun might not sound like rewarding work to some, but to Phoenix’s Tracy Lawson, it’s a life force. Lawson, an instructor at Ahwatukee Tennis Center, has been a mainstay in junior tennis for a decade.

Yet her biggest influence has been in the volunteer realm. She has served as volunteer president of USTA Central Arizona and on several committees for USTA Southwest, including her current role as the section’s junior competition chair. She has also been a mainstay instructor and organizer for USTA junior development camps, is part of the USTA 10 & Under Tennis Workshop Faculty nationally, hosts local tennis Play Days and has been instrumental in the development of USTA Central Arizona’s successful 10 & Under Slam Series of events.

“Giving back, and encouraging kids to find their own love of tennis, doesn’t feel like work,” she says. “It’s what I love to do.”

— Jeff Sikes

Texas: EMILY COXE

In 1987, Emily Coxe played in her first USTA League in Omaha, Neb. She has continued participating each year since, becoming increasingly involved in enriching local tennis opportunities along the way.

Coxe began her volunteer work with the Omaha Tennis Association and Women’s Inner Club League. After moving to Beaumont, Texas, she led a strong Texas Community Tennis Association as president for two years, and as a board member for eight years, while enhancing the public tennis facilities and the Southeast Texas Tennis Association. A league coordinator for nine years, Coxe was honored with the USTA Texas Section Community Service Award in 2011.

Besides her involvement in three Texas section committees, as well as the City of Beaumont Parks and Rec Committee, Coxe enjoys playing the sport with her family and friends and vacationing to tennis-related events such as the US Open.

— Janet Wuerpel

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About the Author

Cynthia Cantrell is a contributing editor of RSI magazine.

 

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