USPTA Recognizes Leaders in Tennis Profession
The United States Professional Tennis Association honored its top teachers, coaches, players, volunteers and managers during its annual national awards ceremony at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis on September 18. USPTA, the world’s oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals, is hosting its annual World Conference Sept. 15-20 at La Quinta Resort and Club in La Quinta, Calif.
Welby Van Horn of Lake Worth, Fla., became part of an elite group as a grand inductee into the USPTA’s Hall of Fame. Van Horn is both a respected player and tennis-teaching professional, whose teaching system is widely used today.
USPTA CEO Tim Heckler of Houston received the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award, one of the highest honors the USPTA can bestow upon an individual member. It recognizes members who provide the USPTA with the most outstanding service and who dedicate a lifetime to raising the standards of teaching. Heckler has served as the USPTA CEO for 26 years and during that time has established the USPTA as the foremost organization of teaching professionals in the world.
Tom Sweitzer of Hershey, Pa., received the association’s top annual member award, the Alex Gordon Award for the USPTA Professional of the Year. Sweitzer, owner of Central Penn Tennis Service, has taught over 50,000 hours of on-court tennis lessons with more than 200 of his former students now coaching or teaching tennis.
The USPTA Star, recognizing teaching professionals who make an indelible mark on their communities through the sport of tennis, was awarded to David Boon of Fort Collins, Colo. Boon has contributed to the growth of tennis in Fort Collins for over 20 years with his work with at-risk youth and recently establishing the only First Serve Chapter in the Intermountain area.
Jorge Andrew’s strong commitment to bringing tennis to his community of Lexington, S.C., and helping grow the game, through his involvement in several committees including the USTA junior team tennis national committee and the USTA Southern youth community tennis programs committee, is what earned him the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award.
Stephen Tscherne of Sylmar, Calif., received the USPTA Industry Excellence Award, recognizing business acumen and a charitable attitude. Tscherne is president of the Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, and has taught tennis to more than 1,500 children who come from families that could not afford the typical costs of lessons. The award is sponsored by the Tennis Industry Association and supported by Tennis Tutor ball machines.
J.J. Sehlke of Boca Raton, Fla., received the Facility Manager of the Year Award. Sehlke is the managing partner of the Coral Ridge Country Club in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Other honorees are:
Meredith Geiger-Walton, Austin, Texas - Touring Coach of the Year
Bill Macom, Melbourne, Fla. - College Coach of the Year
Laurie Martin, Tempe, Ariz. - High School Coach of the Year
Mike Lange, Geneva, Ill. - Georgo Bacso Tester of the Year
The following have been named Player of the Year in their respective divisions:
Adrians Zguns, Orlando, Fla. - Men’s Open
Jeff F. Cohen, Longwood, Fla. - Men’s 35-and-over
Pat Serret, Alexandria, La. - Men’s 45-and-over
Gewan Maharaj, Tampa, Fla. - Men’s 55-and-over
Marina McCollom, Ames, Iowa - Women’s Open
Robin Keener, Melbourne, Fla. - Women’s 35-and-over
Kathy Vick, Lubbock, Texas - Women’s 45-and-over
Sue Bramlette, Houston - Women’s 55-and-over
USPTA divisions receiving awards are:
USPTA Texas Division - Division of the Year
USPTA Texas Division - Newsletter of the Year
USPTA Missouri Valley Division - Most Improved Division of the Year
The USPTA National Awards program is conducted annually. Nominations are submitted by the 17 divisions and by individuals. Recipients in each awards category are decided by the USPTA’s awards committee.
Biographies of the award recipients follow.
Founded in 1927, USPTA strives to raise the standards of the tennis profession while promoting greater awareness of the sport. USPTA offers more than 60 professional benefits to its more than 15,000 members worldwide, including certification and professional development. With more than 300 days of educational opportunities throughout the year, USPTA offers the most comprehensive continuing education program in the tennis industry. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit www.uspta.com.
- USPTA award recipient biographies -
Welby Van Horn, Lake Worth, Fla. - USPTA Hall of Fame inductee
Welby Van Horn becomes part of an elite group as a grand inductee in the USPTA Hall of Fame. Van Horn has been involved in many facets of tennis as a player and coach.
His career as a coach has spawned institutions such as the Welby Van Horn Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla., and Welby Van Horn tennis programs in a number of locations. The teaching system he developed is still used today and it is featured in his recent book “The Secrets of the Tennis Master.”
Former Wimbledon and U.S. Singles Champion and all-time tennis great, Jack Kramer, said, “Welby was a terrific world-class player. But as good as he was as a player, he became an even better coach. His system of instruction is unique and amazingly productive.”
Van Horn was a star player and contemporary of other world-class players and USPTA members, including Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, Bill Tilden and Bruce Barnes. When he was 19 years old, he reached the finals of the 1939 U.S. Nationals. One of the high points of his playing career was his crushing defeat of the great Bill Tilden during a match between U.S. and British Empire service teams at Wimbledon in 1945. Van Horn also won the United States Pro Championship (our very own USPTA event) in 1945.
Tim Heckler, Houston - George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award
Tim Heckler, who is one of the most respected leaders in the tennis industry, has served the USPTA as CEO for 26 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.
Prior to his position as CEO, he served on the national USPTA executive committee, including four years on the national board of directors. He was elected USPTA president in 1980 and 1981, was USPTA Professional of the Year in 1979 and is a USPTA Master Professional. 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.
Tom Sweitzer, Hershey, Pa. - Alex Gordon Award for the USPTA Professional of the Year
Tom Sweitzer, a USPTA Master Professional, has worked out of the Hershey
Racquet Club for the past 32 years. He owns the Central Penn Tennis
Service, which operates tennis programs and events at 13 sites with a total of 58 courts including indoor commercial, country club, municipal, private school, resort and
Sweitzer has been very committed in his involvement with the USPTA. He is a former USPTA Middle States Division president and has spoken at more than 15 national and divisional conventions. He has taught over 50,000 hours of on-court tennis lessons with more than 200 of his former students now teaching or coaching tennis, and has directed over 250 USTA tournaments. As a player, he played No. 1 singles for his high school team at Manheim Central High School and was ranked in the top 10 in the 18s. He has also published more than 30 tennis articles.
Sweitzer also makes giving back to the community a priority. His charity tennis events have raised over $8 million for local health care facilities and earned him a Pennsylvania Governor citation for community service and an induction into the USTA Middle States Hall of Fame. His other accolades include USPTA Middle States pro of the year,
president’s service awards, USTA Middle States pro of the year, USTA regional club of the year and Pennsylvania Community College coach of the year.
He lives in Hershey and spends winters in Hilton Head Island, S.C., with his wife Mikel, who is also a tennis professional.
David Boon, Fort Collins, Colo. - USPTA Star
Dave Boon has always been dedicated to helping youth achieve their greatest potential - both on and off the court. He has been very committed to growing the game of tennis in Fort Collins, Colo. For over 20 years Boon has been recognized as a leader in the community for his work with at-risk youth. In 2005, he established the only First Serve Chapter in the Intermountain area. Now at-risk youth can get homework assistance, learn valuable life skills, and get tennis lessons from a USPTA Professional for only a $5/ year membership to the Boys and Girls Club. He works directly with more than 4,000 youth each year through First Serve, the Boys and Girls Club, three different public school districts, and through his initiative of 20 “Free Fridays” to get youth and adults started in the game of tennis. He has independently raised more than $90,000 in just three years to further support after-school programming at the Boys and Girls Club and at local schools throughout Fort Collins. His lunch-time tennis has become a huge hit at local public schools. He targets schools with high free-and reduced-lunch participation and spends two hours teaching and supervising self-directed tennis play and games during lunch time recess for free. Boon’s passion and dedication are an inspiration to those around him and the many ideals he instills in youth include a commitment to helping others. Through tennis and its life lessons, Boon serves as an excellent role model for youth and he has made a huge difference in the lives of all the youth, which is evident in significant improvements in their behavior, attitude and self-esteem.
Stephen Tscherne, Sylmar, Calif. - USPTA Industry Excellence Award
Stephen Tscherne has done much to grow the game of tennis through programs and increased player participation, proving to be a true ambassador for the sport. As president of the Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program he has promoted tennis in California’s East San Fernando Valley through several tournaments, organized leagues and daily lessons. NJTP, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, has taught more than 1,500 children in the area, most of whom come from families that could not afford the typical costs of taking a lesson. Many of the children are on scholarships and those children who are not are charged only $3 per hour for lessons. The Neighborhood Junior Tennis Program has produced several players who are playing high school tennis, ranked in Southern California and playing college tennis. Clearly the program has lived up to its motto of “courts to college.” The program provides the opportunity for large groups of kids to attend local professional tournaments at UCLA and Carson during the summers. The program also supports the certification and continuing education of its tennis-teaching professionals.
Jorge Andrew, Lexington, S.C. - USTA/USPTA Community Service Award
Jorge Andrew has a strong commitment to bringing tennis to his community and helping to grow the game, which can be seen through his involvement with several tennis committees. He is currently the vice chairman of the USTA junior team tennis national committee, has served on the USTA Southern youth community tennis programs committee for the past four years and on the community tennis and adult competition committees for two years. Andrew is the tournament director of the 2009 national public parks tennis championships. He is also a USTA recreational coach workshop master trainer, a USPTA Master Professional, a QuickStart Tennis Play Format specialist and a USTA High Performance Coach. Andrew is the director of tennis operations for the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission in Lexington, S.C.
J.J. Sehlke, Boca Raton, Fla. - Facility Manager of the Year
As managing partner of Coral Ridge Country Club, J.J. Sehlke’s efforts to upgrade amenities and make improvements throughout the property have had a significant impact on higher member retention each year through the increased member services and activities created. The club, which has over 800 members, sits on 200 acres with 11 tennis courts, an 18-hole championship golf course, a 25-meter junior Olympic pool and a 22,000-square-foot clubhouse. The key staff’s professional development and education is highly encouraged and supported 100 percent financially by the facility.
Laurie Martin, Tempe, Ariz. - High School Coach of the Year
The Xavier College Preparatory School girls team finished first in both the district and regional tournaments led by coach Laurie Martin. The girls’ team also made it to the finals of the state tournament. The team had an impressive record of 18-1 for the season. Two of Martin’s players received all-region and all-state recognition. One of her greatest accomplishments this year was her success in implementing new rule changes in high school tennis regarding fixing lineups.
Bill Macom, Melbourne, Fla. - College Coach of the Year
As head coach of the men’s and women’s tennis team at Florida Tech, Bill Macom has led both teams to a top-10 regional ranking in the 2007-08 season. His men’s team finished in fifth place in the Sunshine State Conference, its highest finish in the program’s four-year history. Macom has also led both the men’s and women’s teams to their best records in history at 13-8 and 14-10 respectively. His men’s team is currently ranked 41 in the nation.
Meredith Geiger-Walton, Austin, Texas - Touring Coach of the Year
Meredith Geiger-Walton currently serves on the Texas Coaches Commission and led the USTA Texas Junior Fed Cup team to its first championship in 22 years in 2005. Her personal experiences as a touring player and an NCAA All-American and Pac 10 All-American have provided her with the knowledge she needs to give her players tools to develop their games and character. St. Stephen’s Tennis Academy, where she is the director, boasts 11 students with state and sectional rankings in their age divisions at or above No. 68 in the state. Nine of the 11 players posted state rankings in the top 50, and six of these 11 were ranked in the top 200 in the nation. Recently, Geiger-Walton was named the head women’s tennis coach at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.
Mike Lange, Geneva, Ill. - Tester of the Year Mike Lange, a USPTA Professional 1, is the manager of tennis services at the Rush-Copley Healthplex Fitness Center in Geneva, Ill. He is head tester for the Midwest Division, as well as the division’s past president. He has tested 97 people during the awards period. In an effort to improve communication among division testers, he has set up a system of regular phone call and e-mail communications. In addition to his involvement with the USPTA, Lange also serves as an exclusive Nike dealer and a member of the Wilson Premiere Advisory Staff.
Adrians Zguns, Orlando, Fla. - Men’s Open Player of the Year
Adrians Zguns was the winner of the 2008 USPTA Clay Court Championships. He was also the winner of the 2007 USPTA International Championships. He was the USPTA’s No. 2-ranked men’s open player in 2007.
Jeff F. Cohen, Longwood, Fla. - Men’s 35-and-over Player of the Year
Jeff F. Cohen was the men’s 40 singles and doubles champion at the 2008 USPTA Clay Court Championships and at the 2007 USPTA International Championships. In 2007, he was USPTA’s No. 1-ranked men’s 40 singles and doubles player. He is the director of tennis at Heathrow Country Club in Longwood, Fla.
Pat Serret, Alexandria, La. - Men’s 45-and-over Player of the Year
Pat Serret finished strong in several USPTA tournaments in 2007. He was the winner of the men’s 45 singles at the 2007 USPTA Clay Court Championships, Grass Court Championships, Hard Court Championships and the International Championships. He was ranked No. 1 in men’s 45 singles by the USPTA in 2007. He also won the men’s 45 singles at the USTA’s 2008 Bocage Clay Courts, 2007 Southern Senior Clay, 2007 Bocage Invitational and 2007 Alexandria Clay Courts. Serret is director of tennis at Courthouse Fitness and Tennis in Alexandria, La.
Gewan Maharaj, Tampa, Fla. - Men’s 55-and-over Player of the Year
Gewan Maharaj has been very successful in USPTA tournaments in 2007. He was the winner of men’s 55 singles at the International Championships, Florida Grand Prix at Boca Raton, Ormond, Bonita Springs and Florida Grand Prix - Masters. He was ranked No. 1 by the USPTA in men’s 55 singles in 2007. Maharaj is the director of tennis at Tampa Yacht and Country Club in Tampa.
Marina McCollom, Ames, Iowa - Women’s Open Player of the Year
Marina McCollom was champion of the women’s singles at both the USPTA Clay Court and Indoor Championships this year. She is originally from Bulgaria and played for DePaul University in Chicago. McCollom also coached at Iowa State University. She is currently an associate tennis professional at the Des Moines Golf and Country Club in West Des Moines, Iowa.
Robin Keener, Melbourne, Fla. - Women’s 35-and-over Player of the Year
Robin Keener was the winner of the women’s 35 singles at the 2007 USPTA International Championships, Clay Court Championships and the Florida Grand Prix -
Masters. She was also the winner of the women’s 35 doubles at the 2007 USPTA Clay Court Championships. Keener was the USPTA’s No. 1-ranked player in women’s 35 singles and co- No.-1 ranked player in women’s 35 doubles in 2007. Keener is the owner and teaching professional of Keenerpro Tennis.
Kathy Vick, Lubbock, Texas - Women’s 45-and-over Player of the Year
Kathy Vick has finished strong in several USTA tournaments. She was a finalist in 45 doubles in the 2008 USTA Indoor National Championships and in the USTA National Women’s Clay Court Championships. She was the co-captain and No.-1 singles and doubles player for Texas at the 2007 USTA Women’s Intersectional Team Event. She was also the winner of the Women’s 45 doubles at both the 2007 USTA National Hard Court Championships and the GPTC Women’s Nike Tennis Championships. She put together a combined 40-10 record in singles and doubles in 2007. Vick was ranked No. 4 in 45 singles and No. 1 in 45 doubles by the USTA in 2007. Vick is the head tennis professional at Hillcrest Golf and Country Club in Lubbock, Texas.
Sue Bramlette, Houston, Texas - Women’s 55-and-over Player of the Year
Sue Bramlette has finished strong in several USTA tournaments. She was the 55 singles champion at the 2007 Tennis Express Fall Festival and the 55 doubles champion at the 2007 Les Grandes Dames Fall Classic. She was also the 55 doubles champion at the 2008 Les Grandes Dames Checket Cup and a 55 doubles finalist at the USTA National Clay Courts. Bramlette was ranked No. 10 in 55 singles and No. 4 in 55 doubles by the USTA in 2007. She is a retired teaching professional from the Houston Racquet Club.
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