USPTA Presents Special Awards to CEO Tim Heckler and Longtime Member Townsend Gilbert
The United States Professional Tennis Association recognized two people for exemplary service during its annual awards breakfast at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis in September. The Association presented the President’s Award to Townsend Gilbert and honored USPTA CEO Tim Heckler for 25 years of service.
Gilbert, a USPTA member for 21 years, was singled out for his service to Little Tennis®, the Association’s program created for children ages 3 to 10 and the nation’s tennis equivalent to Little League Baseball, soccer, or basketball. The President’s Award is an honor that a current or outgoing USPTA president can give to someone for special service. Outgoing President Ron Woods honored Gilbert for his dedication to Little Tennis education and promotion and his volunteer service at Arthur Ashe Kids Day.
Gilbert is the kind of teacher who relates well to children, as evidenced by his many years of volunteer service to the USPTA. He has staffed the USPTA court at Arthur Ashe Kids Day during the lead-up to the U.S. Open for about 12 years. He has put smiles on lots of children’s faces and entertained as many parents. He has always been quick to offer help to the USPTA when needed.
Heckler, who is one of the most respected leaders in the tennis industry, has served the USPTA as CEO for 25 years. It is through his vision, hard work and leadership that the USPTA has thrived, increasing its membership and income many times over during his tenure, which began in 1982.
As CEO, Heckler has established USPTA as the foremost organization of teaching professionals in the world. He has revolutionized USPTA’s operations through computerization and continually strives to introduce tennis professionals to the tools of the information age.
Heckler attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, on a tennis scholarship and played on the international circuit, including Wimbledon in 1959 and 1961, and the U.S. Open in 1960. His work as a coach and a speaker, and his experience in designing, managing and programming several large recreational facilities, has given him the background to deal with all situations related to tennis. Since 1972, he has been a consultant to the tennis industry. In 1973 he was the consultant and tennis director for the Bobby Riggs vs. Billie Jean King “Match of the Century” held in the Houston Astrodome. Other accolades Heckler has received include being named a grand inductee in the Association’s Hall of Fame in 2000, receiving the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Tennis Educational Merit Award in 2002 and being inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.
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