USTA Northern honored the winners of its 2012 Annual Awards Saturday, Nov. 17, at an awards luncheon as part of the 2012 USTA Northern Community Tennis Workshop at the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center in St. Paul, Minn.
2012 USTA Northern Award Winners
· Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award: Betty McNeil (Mitchell, S.D.)
· Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award: Boys: Martin Beck (Minneapolis, Minn.); Girls: Alexis Nelson (St. Paul, Minn.)
· Bob Larson Media Excellence Award: David Sommer, Senior Tennis Times (Minneapolis, Minn.)
· Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Official Award: Robert Hank (Oak Grove, Minn.)
· Jack Dow Adult Development Award: Mike Johnson (Minneapolis, Minn.)
· Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award: Craig Gordon (Farmington, Minn.)
· Jr. Team Tennis Organizer of the Year: Matt Boughton (Eau Claire, Wis.)
· Family of the Year: The Gundersen Family (Rapid City, S.D.)
· Wolfenson/Ratner Community Service Award: Koua Yang (St. Paul, Minn.)
· Frank Voigt Pro of the Year: Felicia Tebon (Minnetonka, Minn.)
· Member Organization of the Year: Bismarck-Mandan Tennis Association (Bismarck-Mandan, N.D.)
Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award
Betty McNeil, of Mitchell, S.D., is the winner of the Albert Teeter Adult Sportsmanship Award given to the adult player who best displays fairness, is generous, is a gracious winner and good loser. McNeil, who started playing tennis at age 35 and has played for over 30 years, is both a tournament and league player. She plays 4.0 USTA League tennis on a senior team in Rapid City, S.D., which is 280 miles away from her home in Mitchell, just so the team has enough members to compete at the USTA Northern Section League Championships. She is actively involved in the Mitchell Tennis Association and is a frequent supporter of local high school matches and tournaments.
Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award - Boys Winner
of Minneapolis, Minn., is the Boys winner of the Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award given to the junior player who not only displays the finest qualities of sportsmanship during tournament play, but who also demonstrates exemplary conduct away from the court. Beck is currently a senior at Minneapolis South High School. He and Luke Elifson
won the Class AA Doubles championships at the 2011 and 2012 Minnesota State High School Tournament. Beck also was a member of the Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center Jr. Team Tennis program that won the Section championship the past two years and finished fourth at the 2011 JTT National Championships in Surprise, Ariz. Beck is part of the Tennis2College program at Fred Wells Tennis & Education Center.
Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship Award- Girls Winner
Alexis Nelson of St. Paul, Minn., is the Girls winner of the Jerry Noyce Award. The 14-year-old Nelson is one of the top players not only in the Section, but in the country, as she is currently ranked fifth in 14s, 29th in 16s and 100th in 18s. She has won a number of USTA Junior National Open events the past three years and earned a silver ball in doubles at the Winter Nationals in 2011, and bronze balls at the National Hardcourts this summer and the USTA Winter Nationals two years ago. She also earned finalist honors at the 2012 US Open Northern Section Qualifying Tournament in June, and was a semifinalist at the Nike Masters in September. Nelson, who is a freshman, earned the Sportsmanship Award at the USTA National Clay Courts in 2011, and at the 14s Zonals Tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2010.
Bob Larson Media Excellence Award
of Minneapolis, Minn., is the 2012 winner of the Bob Larson Media Excellence Award given to a newspaper, television or radio person who has provided exemplary coverage in the Section. Sommer is the editor of the Senior Tennis Times
, a monthly publication produced on behalf of the Twin Cities Senior Tennis Players Club, which is the largest group of its kind in the nation with over 1,500 members. Through his publication, Sommer has promoted everything from high school to senior tennis, special events, health and wellness and endless play opportunities for seniors. He also maintains the group’s website and member database, plus other computer-related matters. Sommer, who has played tennis for 58 years, is also an active USTA League player and supports many of the special events held in the Section.
Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Official Award
of Oak Grove, Minn., is the winner of the Rocky Rockwell Grassroots Official Award given to an official who has done outstanding work at the grassroots level. Hank has been a certified official for two years and has officiated matches and tournaments at all levels from professional to collegiate to adults and juniors. He also attended the USTA Chair Umpire Academy last spring. Hank, a doctoral candidate at the University of Minnesota, is the co-owner of the North Metro Tennis Association which is committed to increasing adult tournament participation in the Twin Cities. Hank, who started playing tennis seven years ago, also plays USTA League Tennis and tournaments and was the winner of the Jack Dow Adult Development Award in 2011.
Jack Dow Adult Development Award
of Minneapolis, Minn., is the winner of the Jack Dow Adult Development Award which honors the individual whose efforts have had the greatest impact on improving adult competitive and recreational play for that year. Johnson, who is the Head Professional at Life Time Fitness – Bloomington South in Bloomington, Minn., has been involved with the USTA League Tennis program since 1995 as a player and captain. Since 2000, Johnson has captained 65 teams and played on an additional 30. Many of his teams have advanced to USTA League Tennis National Championships, including three teams in 2012. In 2004, his team won the 8.0 USTA Regional Mixed Doubles Championship.
Johnson, who won the Coldwell Banker Award of Excellence in 2004, also has been on the Twin Cities Leagues Committee the past 8 years and served as the chair the past 4 years. He is now applying to be the next Section Leagues Committee Chair. He also served as the Chair of the USTA Northern League Restructure Task Force and was the architect of the USTA Northern Circle of League Life and the 2013 Twin Cities League schedule, season dates and days of play. He is currently taking the lead in working with other Life Time Fitness clubs in further developing USTA Leagues in the Twin Cities.
Through Life Time Fitness – Bloomington South, Johnson has also increased adult tournament play opportunities by playing host to the Pine Tree NTRP Doubles Fundraiser and the North Country Classic, a tournament that opens its doors to all members of the GLBT community, their allies, families and friends. He constantly donates courts for USTA events such as captains meetings, member appreciation events and 10 and Under Play Days.
Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award
of Farmington, Minn., is the recipient of the Ward C. Burton Junior Development Award given to the individual or organization whom has promoted the growth of tennis for juniors and served the junior tennis community in USTA Northern. Gordon, who is the Head Professional at Life Time Fitness in Lakeville, Minn., has developed many of the top juniors in the Section, including Quinn Foley
, Paul McCallie
, Shelby Henderson
, Lori Ahjua
, Samantha Nichols
and 2011 USTA Northern Jerry Noyce Junior Sportsmanship winner Lisa Hall
. He has served as the Chair of the USTA Northern Player Development Committee since 2010, and is a member of the USTA Northern Coaches Commission. He is the head coach of the USTA Northern 14s Zonal team, the Northern Stars program and the Regional Training Center at Life Time – Lakeville.
In his role at Life Time Fitness – Lakeville, Gordon has also grown the junior game Section-wide by playing host to 22 USTA Tournaments a year including a USTA National Open, USTA Regional Open and the Boys Northern Sectional Tournament. The facility has also has hosted a 10 and Under tournament, Tennis on Campus Section Championships, USTA Play Days, Minnesota State High School League Section tournaments and Jr. Team Tennis leagues and matches.
Jr. Team Tennis Organizer of the Year
of Eau Claire, Wis., is the 2012 Jr. Team Tennis Organizer of the Year. The award recognizes an individual for his or her efforts in expanding an existing Jr. Team Tennis league or developing a new league within the Section. Since Boughton, who is the Tennis Director at the Eau Claire YMCA Indoor Tennis Center, took over Jr. Team Tennis from the Chippewa Valley Tennis Association in early 2011, participation has increased 20 percent the past two years to over 150 players. He also created a scholarship program so everyone who wanted to participate could and tripled the number of JTT events in the city. The YMCA has hosted a JTT Area Championship for both 18- and 14-and-Under Intermediates the last two years, and sent two teams (14 and 18 Intermediates) to the Section Championships in 2012. The 14-and-Under Intermediate team achieved a program first by winning the USTA Northern Section title and will compete at the 2012 JTT National Championships October 18-21 in Cayce, S.C. Boughton also started a 10 & Under JTT program this year, in addition to the 12-and-Under, 14-and-Under and 18-and-Under programs.
Family of the Year
The Gundersen Sisters
of Rapid City, S.D., have been selected as the 2012 Family of the Year, given to the family that has been outstanding in promoting tennis both on and off the court.
Karen Gundersen Olson has been a long-time tennis enthusiast. She helped secure funding for Rapid City’s new $1.1 million Parkview Tennis Complex, which, when combined with the city's Sioux Park 12-court facility, is one of USTA Northern’s best public outdoor tennis tournament sites. As a member of the Black Hills Tennis Association, she was responsible for writing and managing a blended lines grant for three tennis facilities in the city. She directed a lighting study for the Sioux Park courts as a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. She has taught 10 and Under lessons with the BHTA’s Adopt-A-School program and is a volunteer at both the Common Cents Open and Level 3 Boys National Tournament in Rapid City. She has also played USTA League Tennis the past 10 years.
Janet Gundersen-Powers serves as the treasurer of the Black Hills Tennis Association and has assisted with the Level 3 Boys National Tournament. She ran the BHTA’s local tournament for years, which is now both a junior and adult USTA sanctioned tournament. In 2011, Gundersen-Powers was the tournament director for this event, and in 2012, the site director. She has also played USTA League Tennis the past 10 years.
Janet and Karen have also recruited family members to get involved in tennis as both their husbands and children play. They have also brought their sisters, Deanne and Laurel, on as members of the Black Hills Tennis Association to help grow tennis in Rapid City.
Wolfenson-Ratner Community Service Award
, of St. Paul, Minn., is the winner of the Wolfenson/Ratner Community Service Award given to the person for his or her outstanding fieldwork in recreational tennis. It is also awarded for significant contributions in developing community-based tennis programs through community centers, schools, parks and Community Tennis Associations. Yang serves as the head tennis coach at Harding High School in St. Paul, Minn., and as a coordinator for the St. Paul Urban Tennis Program. In the winter, he volunteers his time, offering free tennis lessons to all high school players in St. Paul. He works as a Jr. Team Tennis coach in the summer, runs a summer tennis tournament and serves as a consultant for growing tennis within the Asian community. Yang’s contributions go beyond the basic expectations of a coach as he finds scholarships, equipment and opportunities so kids can play tennis. He also serves as a mentor supporting kids and their families, both on and off the court, including making personal phone calls to parents explaining why tennis is important to their child’s future aspirations.
Frank Voigt Pro of the Year
Felicia Tebon of Minnetonka, Minn., is the 2012 Frank Voigt Pro of the Year given to a tennis teaching professional who demonstrates leadership skills on and off the court. Tebon, who is the Tennis Manager of the Williston Fitness Center in Minnetonka, Minn., has coached many of the top juniors and has one of the strongest women’s daytime league programs in the Section. She was very involved in the development of the USTA Twin Cities Ladies Daytime League which includes eight private tennis clubs in the Minneapolis area. The league is currently in its fourth year and she is the League Coordinator. Williston Fitness Center has 12 teams participating in the league.
Tebon was the head coach of the USTA Northern Competition Training Centers/Northern Stars and has coached the USTA Northern Girls 18s National Team for seven years. She has also served as the Chair of the Player Development Committee and is still a member. The former WTA professional has coached such players as Hannah Dake, who won the 2012 Aquatennial Singles Championship and is a senior playing for the Air Force Academy, Brittney Faber, who plays for Middlebury, and Sierra Halverson, who plays at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Her son, Michael, also plays Division I tennis at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and daughter, Theresa, has been a member of the varsity squad at Minnetonka High School for 2 years.
Member Organization of the Year
The Bismarck-Mandan Tennis Association in Bismarck and Mandan, N.D., is the 2012 Member Organization of the Year recognizing its outstanding service and setting the standards in which all organizations should strive to achieve. Celebrating its 40th year, the BMTA has been very active and aggressive in growing tennis within the community. The list is endless of all the BMTA has accomplished in 2012, including bringing former University of Minnesota tennis coach Tyler Thomson to the area for a youth clinic, hosting tennis drills, tournaments (including a 10 and Under tournament), special events and Play Days, organizing workshops for groups like Big Brothers/Big Sisters and hosting a USTA tennis officiating school.
The BMTA, which also won this award in 1999, received a grant from USTA Northern to paint blended lines on local courts. It has hosted a Jr. Team Tennis Area Championship the past two years and increased USTA League Tennis participants. In 2012, the Bismarck-Mandan area qualified five teams for Sectional Championships, including a 3.5 senior women’s team that advanced to Nationals (the BMTA providing funding for registration and travel for these teams).
The organization also supported many efforts in the community by awarding grants to local juniors to play in winter programs and to travel to summer tournaments, planting trees at its local courts to provide wind protection next spring and purchasing Tennis Skillastics for the local parks and recreation department. It also developed its internal infrastructure by sending the president to the USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop in New Orleans, sponsoring two people to take part in the Professional Tennis Registry’s Adult Certification course, sending several board members to the USTA Northern Community Tennis Workshop in November, developing board and league manager job description and starting an archive of the organization.
The Ace Award goes to the USTA Northern Staff member who has gone above and beyond during the year. The 2012 winner is Chris Dummermuth of Sioux Falls, S.D. Dummermuth, a USTA Northern Hall of Famer, is in her third year as the Tennis Service Representative for South Dakota. She announced in June that she will be retiring at the end of 2012.
The President's Award goes to the person who has been of most assistance to the President during the year. The 2012 winner is John Wilcox of Edina, Minn. Wilcox just completed his first term on the USTA Northern Board of Directors and will serve as the Treasurer in 2013-14. Wilcox is overseeing the rejuvenation of the Northern Tennis Foundation.