The USTA/Midwest Section was well-represented at this year’s awards presentation during the USTA’s Annual Meeting and Conference which took place March 24-27 in Orlando, Florida. Congratulations to all of the winners! You make the Midwest proud!
Brad Parks Award – Gene Orlando (Lansing, Mich.)
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to wheelchair tennis, whether through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game. Gene is the head coach of the Michigan State University (MSU) men’s tennis team, but also has been instrumental in growing the wheelchair tennis community at MSU since it was first played there in 1990. He has created tournaments and conducts bi-weekly practices that are open to players of all levels.
Orlando has coached players who have gone on to win tennis matches at all levels, including two-time Paralympian Bryan Barten. He also has provided administrative support for grant proposals and other expansions of wheelchair tennis opportunities on campus.
“What I found most impressive about Coach Orlando is his unique ability to strike a perfect balance between inclusion and high expectation,” said Piotr Pasik, coordinator of the MSU Adaptive Sports & Recreation Club. “Despite the diversity in ability – which many coaches would find daunting – Coach Orlando embraces the challenge and navigates it successfully with creativity and patience as he watches his players improve.”
Developmental Program of the Year – Smith Tennis (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Jeff Smith, Bryan Smith and Stephanie Hazlett of Smith Tennis – currently a USTA Certified Regional Training Center and a TEAM USA Host Site for both TEAM USA Sectional and Regional Camps – are the primary coaches for a number of players who had exceptional results in 2016: Rajeev Ram, who reached a career-high No. 56 in singles, won a Silver medal in mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics, reached the Wimbledon doubles semi-finals and the ATP World Doubles Championship finals, in addition to the US Open mixed doubles final; Brooke Austin, the NCAA women’s doubles champion as well as ITA All-American and SEC Player of the Year at the University of Florida; Ronnie Schneider, an ITA All-American as a junior at North Carolina and MVP of the ITA National Team Indoor Championships. Other top junior players in the Midwest are coached by Smith Tennis.
“Smith Tennis had an amazing year at every level of the game – juniors, collegiate and professional. Their players won trophies and medals at the Olympics, Grand Slams, NCAAs, USTA National Championships and the Easter Bowl,” said Kent Kinnear, Director, Player ID and Development, USTA Development. “Jeff, Bryan and Stephanie have created an incredible training environment and have built up tremendous competitors as well as sportsmanship winners. They also are true leaders in the Midwest Section and nationally with their role as a USTA regional Training Center and their support and involvement with TEAM USA Sectional, Regional and National Camps, as well as the Midwest Coaches Commission. They are true team players and we want to congratulate them on a tremendous 2016, and thank them for the impact they are making not only in the Midwest Section but also nationally as part of TEAM USA.”
Family of the Year – Charles Norman Family (Aurora, Ohio)
This award recognizes a family who promotes and helps grow amateur tennis in their local community, emphasizing that tennis is a family game. Charles Norman and his wife Mary and two children, Irene (age 17) and Chas (age 15), all are active in the game.
Charles is a former Indiana University four-year scholarship player who won multiple USTA/Midwest Section titles as a top-level junior in the 1970s. He remains active in USTA Leagues and plays out of the Chagrin Valley Athletic Club in Chagrin Falls. Mary is an active player and volunteer, serving as USTA League captain. The children have been active USTA junior tournament players and have served as volunteer ball persons for the USTA Pro Circuit Ladies Cleveland Open Championships, as well as the National Senior Games in Cleveland.
NJTL Founders’ Service Award – Barbara Wynne (Indianapolis, Ind.)
This prestigious award recognizes longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education and outstanding service to under-resourced children with free or low-cost tennis, and provides education and life-skills programming. Barbara founded and serves as president of the Indianapolis Junior Tennis Development Fund to help tennis grow tennis in the greater Indianapolis area. This is her 52nd year teaching and leading the program.
Barbara has helped the Indianapolis chapter expand its offering to include after-school and summer programs, impacting more than 1,400 youth each summer in 19 local public parks and schools. Barbara has held positions on the USTA National Committee for the NJTL and on the Advisory Board and Board of Directors for the USTA Foundation. In 1990, she originated and was chairperson of the first Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. In 2011, Barbara won the Founders’ Service Award and she also received the USTA Volunteer Service Award for 25 years of national service in 2008. On the Section level, Barbara has served on the Midwest Youth Tennis and Education Foundation (now the Midwest Tennis and Education Foundation) and continues to be an active volunteer for the Section.