USPTA recognizes leaders in tennis

The United States Professional Tennis Association honored those who stand out and go above and beyond in all aspects of the tennis industry, from tennis coaches to players to volunteers during its annual national awards breakfast today at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis. USPTA, the world’s oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals, is hosting its annual World Conference Sept. 19-24 at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

Ben Press of Coronado, Calif., was honored with the USPTA’s Presidential Award. Press has been teaching tennis for more than 65 years and his impact on tennis as a teacher and through community work is immeasurable.

Steve Wilkinson of St. Peter, Minn., was also recognized with the USPTA’s Presidential Award. Wilkinson has been a member of the association for nearly 40 years, and his impact and influence as a tennis teacher is tremendous.

Feisal Hassan of Midlothian, Va., received the association’s top annual member award, the Alex Gordon Award for the USPTA Professional of the Year. Hassan has been involved in tennis and has been a USPTA member for more than 20 years.

Michael Andrews of Fort Wayne, Ind., is the recipient of the USTA/USPTA Community Service Award. He has been a USPTA member for more than 15 years, and has continued to give to his community through tennis. He is very active in the tennis industry and serves on several committees for charity work in the Fort Wayne area. He is currently the managing professional at Wildwood Racquet Club in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Matthew Boughton of Eau Claire, Wis., is the director of tennis and a tennis professional at the Eau Claire YMCA, and had a significant impact on the growth of the junior tennis program, membership and revenue. During his four years at the YMCA, Boughton has managed to help increase membership revenue by 20 percent and lesson revenue is up 39 percent. His work with the Eau Claire tennis community and YMCA is what earned him the USPTA Industry Excellence Award, recognizing business acumen and a charitable attitude. The award is sponsored by the Tennis Industry Association and supported by Tennis Tutor ball machines.

The USPTA Star, recognizing teaching professionals who make an indelible mark on their communities through the sport of tennis, was awarded to Philip “Fitz” Paccione of Portland, Ore. Paccione has made significant contributions to tennis in Portland through his work with Portland

After-School Tennis & Education. The program works to develop young tennis athletes from poor families into successful tennis players who graduate from high school.

Fernando Velasco of Austin, Texas, received the Lessons for Life Individual Award for his numerous charity events at the Circle C Tennis Club in Austin, Texas, including Toys for Blue Santa and First Volley Clinic.

Bill Mecca of Garden City, N.Y., received the Tennis Across America Individual Award for his efforts in hosting TennisFest 2011, a free event for more than 1,500 people featuring free tennis lessons, exercise and more. Ira Peskowitz of West Palm Beach, Fla., received the USPTA Diversity Award for his work with the Kids and Police Tennis Association, a program that allows kids to play tennis and positively interact with police officers. Raul Saad of Shreveport, La., received the Manager of the Year Award - Small Facility. Saad is the general manager of Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club in Shreveport, La.

Derrick Barnett of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., received the Manager of the Year Award - Large Facility. Barnett is the general manager of BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Other honorees are:

The following have been named Player of the Year in their respective divisions:

USPTA divisions receiving awards are:

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 70 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


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