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Three Industry Pioneers inducted into Hall of Fame

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC — Three tennis industry leaders will be inducted into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame this summer, in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments and significant impact on the tennis industry.

Howard R. Gill Jr., Walter Montenegro and Sheldon Westervelt will join five previous Tennis Industry Hall of Fame inductees, including tennis champion Billie Jean King and coaches Nick Bollettieri and Dennis Van der Meer. The three 2013 inductees will have their plaques added to the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame’s permanent display housed at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

“We’re excited to add Howard, Walter and Sheldon to the industry’s Hall of Fame,” said Jeff Williams, group publisher of the Tennis Media Company (Tennis magazine, Tennis.com), who also chairs the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) Hall of Fame Committee. “Their contributions to this industry have touched all segments of the tennis business and have made this sport more enjoyable and accessible for all.

“The TIA and our board of directors were very pleased to hear that Howard, Walter and Sheldon were being honored this year,” added TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “We started the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame in 2008 to recognize the many leaders and pioneers who have helped tennis grow. These three men have dedicated much of their lives to this sport.”

Howard Gill, or “Howie” as he was known in the industry, was publisher of Tennis magazine from 1976 to 1985 and helped to capitalize on the “tennis boom” occurring at the time. Named an honorary lifetime member of the TIA in 1988, Gill was skilled at finding consensus and getting the tennis industry to work together — a legacy that lives on in the industry today. Gill, who also was a founder of Golf Digest magazine, died in 1996 at age 73.

Tennis and racquet sports industry innovator Walter Montenegro was 100 years old when he died in 2009. After emigrating to the U.S. in his early 20s, he started Walter’s Tennis Service out of his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., then he bought a struggling racquet company and rebuilt it, focusing on service, quality and value. In 1983, the TIA named Montenegro an honorary lifetime member. Among his many honors are the 1985 induction into the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame and coverage of his achievements in a Sports Illustrated article by George Plimpton.

Professional engineer Sheldon Westervelt, who has overseen the design and construction of nearly 7,000 tennis projects around the world, still puts in time as a consultant with Global Sports & Tennis Design Group. In 1964, he and a group of colleagues wanted to improve the quality of tennis court construction, so they founded what is now the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the premier organization dedicated to quality sports construction, and Westervelt became the group’s first chairman. He’s been a volunteer with the U.S. Tennis Association for more than 40 years. In 1994, Westervelt was honored with a life membership in the American Society of Civil Engineers, and in 2010, he received the ASBA’s highest honor, the Industry Merit Award.

Gill, Montenegro and Westervelt join Howard Head (2008), Dennis Van der Meer (2008), Alan Schwartz (2009), Billie Jean King (2010) and Nick Bollettieri (2011) in the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.

About the TIA

The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, is THE unifying force in the tennis industry whose mission is to promote the growth and economic vitality of tennis by working closely with the U.S. Tennis Association and industry partners to develop and implement initiatives to increase tennis participation and improve the health of industry businesses. Core TIA activities include producing more than 70 research reports annually on participation and consumer/trade research, in addition to Grow the Game Initiatives such as PlayTennis.com, 10 and Under Tennis, the GrowingTennis Systemâ„¢, Tennis Welcome Centers, Cardio Tennis, Careers in Tennis and Tennis Tune-Up Campaign. Visit TennisIndustry.org or call 866-686-3036.

 

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