USTA North Carolina's Community Development Workshop at Grandover Resort was an oasis in the midst of Hurricane Ian. The weekend was full of learning, mingling, and spirited celebration as we recognized the amazing accomplishments of so many talented people and organizations across the state at our Awards Luncheon.
Take a moment to learn about the accolades that make these award winners such valuable contributors to the NC tennis community!
Mary Milam Award: Debbie Southern
This award takes the name of the USTA NC Executive Director, Mary Milam who served from 1983-1996. Mary valued the volunteer and she loved our junior tennis players. To honor her service to NC Tennis, the Mary Milam Award was established upon her retirement.
The criteria of the winners are for those who have played junior tennis in North Carolina and then given back as a volunteer to NC Tennis. This award is decided by the NCTA Management Committee.
Debbie saw firsthand what volunteerism was. She was an outstanding player in the junior ranks leading NC Tennis in most all age groups in which she competed. She then went on to play college tennis and continued her winning ways! She began her coaching career in the early 1980’s and ended it as the all-time winningest coach in Furman University Women’s tennis history. Probably a record never to be broken! Her players represent Furman in the classroom and on the tennis court with the highest standards.
As she wound down the Hall of Fame coaching career, she headed back to North Carolina to live, volunteer and play! Thank goodness. She has jumped in on the USTA NC Board, the NC Tennis Foundation boards, and committees. Learning from the best, Mildred Southern, she knows that volunteering at the local level has the greatest impact. She is now serving as the Asheville Tennis Association president.
Community Tennis Association of the Year: Lake Norman Tennis Association
LNTA had an exceptional year embodying the pillars of excellence that the Community Tennis Association of the Year is recognized for: strong leadership, outstanding program offerings, volunteer recruitment, and community relationships.
Lake Norman Tennis Association has led the way in implementing new programming, notably through developing a tennis advocacy group and building strong relationships with local government leaders to prioritize player growth and facility development.
They have seen growth in many of their programs over the past year, including a 13% increase in adult league participation and an almost 20% increase in Junior Team Tennis. Try Tennis is also thriving with 8 instructors at 8 different facilities. Their ServeAces program has been instrumental in converting beer league players to USTA league play, and their Acetoberfest charity tournament raises money for college scholarships for rising freshman. They’ve also started 2 new programs this year: “Meetup” tennis and Rusty Rackets.
From the perspective of volunteer recruitment, they had over 100 local players volunteer to help make the 18 and Over State Championship a huge success for the 9th consecutive time.
Member Organization of the Year: Myers Park Country Club
The Member Organization of the Year is recognized for their outstanding service to the local community, to their members, and to the game of tennis.
Myers Park Country Club has had a strong partnership with the Charlotte Tennis Association for the past 25 years. Through this relationship, the staff at MPCC have proven themselves to be incredible community partners.
They support the Charlotte Pro League, with their Director of Tennis, Thomas Eek, and two other MPCC pros even being drafted to teams this year. MPCC is also heavily involved in Junior Team Tennis, consistently fielding 4-6 teams every season, as well as adult USTA League, with members organizing around 6 teams each year.
They also provided use of their courts for the 40 and Over USTA Adult League State Championships this year, where Thomas and his staff went the extra mile to make the experience unforgettable for both players and volunteers.
USTA Jr. Team Tennis Local League Coordinator of the Year: Carla O'Connor
The recipient of the USTA Jr. Team Tennis Local League Coordinator of the Year is someone who not only delivers JTT to their community, but also embodies the true meaning of having a positive impact on children.
Carla O’Connor is a tremendous advocate for Junior Team Tennis. She is the local league coordinator for Charlotte, one of the largest metropolitan cities in the Southern section. She is a leader that shares her knowledge by serving on countless committees and councils state and nationwide. She is readily available if anyone has a question or wants her input, and she is truly dedicated to growing Junior Team Tennis programming EVERYWHERE.
Carla serves, and has served, on several USTA National Committees. She gets asked to repeatedly serve due to her knowledge and ability to see things from comprehensive and unique perspectives. Most recently, she participated in a yearlong special task force that came together to ensure North Carolina didn’t lose their focus on the “local” track of Junior Team Tennis.
USTA League Tennis Local League Coordinator of the Year: Robyn Haug
The USTA League Tennis Local League Coordinator of the Year shares their passion for tennis through their exceptional contributions to the game of tennis by administering and promoting a USTA adult local league program.
Robyn Haug is the Adult Programs Manager for the Charlotte Tennis Association and has been a Local League Coordinator for 10 years.
She is directly responsible for all aspects and operations related to Adult League, Mixed Doubles League, NC Singles League, Southern Combo Doubles League, and Singles/Doubles FLEX Leagues for the Charlotte Tennis Association.
Through her leadership, Charlotte Metro will end the year with over 12,600 registrations across those programs, which is a 10.5% increase compared to 2021. In 2022, Charlotte Metro boasted the highest team count in the state, and they consistently rank in the top ten in the country.
Over the last year, Robyn scheduled play for over 1,200 teams representing 45 public and private facilities.
USTA NC Diversity, Outreach, and Inclusion Award: Roberta Hadley
The USTA NC Diversity Outreach and Inclusion Award winner demonstrates a sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion by actively championing and celebrating diversity on and off the court.
Roberta Hadley is the very deserving recipient of this award, as she had a busy year advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion for tennis for 2022!
Roberta began the year by presenting to the Raleigh Citizen Advisory Council to introduce residents to the Raleigh Tennis Association’s work, as well as to invite them to participate in tennis programming, including USTA NC’s Try Tennis program.
In April and May, Roberta organized three weeks of free tennis lessons for students at several Boys and Girls Clubs in Wake County. She ended the series with a festival for students at the Boys and Girls Clubs held at Lion's Park in Raleigh with approximately 80-90 children. In June, Roberta worked with the Ebony Racquet Club and the Boys and Girls Clubs to host families for a free NJTL clinic at North Hills Club Pro Am as part of the Cy King charity event.
Roberta is currently working with Communities in Schools of Wake County to execute summer programs and plan how to implement ongoing programs. She has also launched the NJTL essay contest for students in Raleigh.
League Volunteer Service Award Given by Omega Sports: Jean Haas
This award is our way of celebrating individuals who make generous contributions to the USTA League Tennis program, resulting in the growth of tennis at the local and/or state level.
Jean Haas brings a breadth and depth of knowledge to her role as the Chair of the North Carolina Adult League Committee.
A long-time Local League Coordinator for the Downeast League, Jean learned league tennis from the ground up. As Chair of the Adult League Committee, Jean has been a steady presence navigating league tennis and its state league championships through COVID.
Jean’s steady manner and level-headedness had made her a valued thought partner for two different State League Coordinators.
Outstanding Parks & Recreation Department: Brunswick County Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation Departments are pivotal in making tennis accessible to all. The Outstanding Parks and Recreation Department award recognizes the Parks and Rec department that has made the greatest impact in its community through programming, events, and partnerships.
Brunswick County Parks and Recreation has a dedicated and passionate team led by Aaron Perkins that promotes tennis within their community and fosters partnerships with other organizations to grow the sport.
Alyssa Coln, the Special Populations Coordinator, helps organize a Special Olympics tennis team and coordinated an Abilities Tennis program that has sessions in the spring, summer, and fall. Alyssa also works with the Brunswick County School System to give special needs students a field trip to a tennis clinic hosted by the Brunswick County Tennis Association.
Khrystye Haselden, the 50 & Older Population Coordinator, oversees the NC Senior Games and organizes the tennis tournaments for the various age groups so that winners can go to the state Championships in Raleigh.
Tanya McGee, the Athletic Coordinator, helps reserve facilities for USTA Junior and Adult Tournaments, USTA league play, Try Tennis, and school tennis programs.
Brian Moore is the Athletic Superintendent and works closely with the Brunswick County Tennis Association each year to keep their partnership strong and grow tennis in Brunswick County.
USTA League Captain of the Year: Cathy Kale
Being the USTA League Captain of the Year isn’t just about having the best team or winning the most state championships. This accolade is reserved for the captain who displays excellence in sportsmanship, leadership, and organization - all with an unrelenting attitude of positivity and encouragement.
Kathy Cale has demonstrated a passion for fairness and unwavering support for the many teams she captains. She is a wonderful resource and mentor for new players and captains in the Outer Banks community, setting a solid example for sportsmanship and competency.
Kathy’s loyal teammates describe her as “enthusiastic, kind, fair, knowledgeable, and welcoming.” She consistently displays exemplary sportsmanship and is always a willing volunteer. She makes sure her teammates are well matched and get equal play time and encourages bonding and networking with other teams.
Adaptive Tennis Award: Chad Oxendine
The Adaptive Tennis Award is presented to an athlete, coach, volunteer, or an organization who demonstrates sustained commitment to enhancing and growing adaptive tennis. This person or organization is actively involved in adaptive programming exhibiting dedication and courage, resulting in an outstanding contribution to adaptive tennis.
Chad Oxendine has been an Abilities Tennis coach for four years, and his passion for bringing tennis to those with intellectual disabilities in his community is commendable – he holds year-round clinics every Saturday. He also became an Abilities Tennis trainer and has been the lead coach for the Skills court at several of the Abilities Tennis tournaments.
His teaching skills, humor, kind disposition, and energy make him an excellent coach for Abilities Tennis. Chad is loved by the athletes and their families - with many taking private lessons from him and noticeably improving their tennis skills.
Educational Merit Award Given by Buster & Karen Brown: Reid Kinlaw
This award is given annually to an individual who has developed an outstanding tennis initiative, which provides leadership and inspiration in junior programming for schools, colleges, parks and playgrounds and benefits the growth of tennis.
Reid Kinlaw is a teacher, coach, administrator, and leader. He has been with Cary Tennis Park since 2010 and is the Head Tennis Pro for Community Tennis, where he supervises all developmental junior and adult programming, which includes clinics, teams, and camps.
He also keeps himself busy by being the co-Local JTT coordinator for Western Wake. He has also been a member and chair of the NC Jr Recreation Pathway committee. He runs weekly wheelchair clinics and is a leader with WheelServeNC. He has coached numerous players who have achieved state, sectional and national rankings.