USTA Names Recipients Of Grassroots Tennis Awards

USTA Annual Meeting, Judy Moore, Tennis For Fun, Adaptive Tennis Award (photo: USTA)

ORLANDO, Fla., April. 21, 2024

The USTA announced its 2024 national awards recipients, who have been honored for their dedication and contributions to growing the sport of tennis both locally and nationwide. The eight awards were bestowed at the 2024 USTA Annual Meeting & Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The award winners are listed below:

Adaptive Tennis Award: Tennis for Fun – Brandon, Fla.

The Adaptive Tennis Award recognizes a program or program leader that has demonstrated continued excellence, dedication and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.

Tennis for Fun, active in the community for 23 years, provides free tennis clinics in five states–Florida, Maine, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota–which benefit more than 300 players with intellectual disabilities from ages 6-81. The program enhances participants’ self-confidence through basic tennis skill development and socialization, and fosters a lifelong love for tennis in them. Dedicated volunteers support the athletes, and when starting a new location, the community helps find athletes and facilities that donate court time.

Barbara Williams Award: Christine Costamagna – San Rafael, Calif.

Established in 2003, this award recognizes a female volunteer who, through her leadership and by her example, has encouraged and inspired others to become volunteers and assume leadership roles at the community, section and/or national levers of the USTA.

Christine Costamagna, a dedicated volunteer for decades, has left an indelible mark on the tennis community through her extensive involvement with both the USTA NorCal section and USTA national. Currently serving as the vice president of the USTA NorCal Board of Directors, she also chairs the USTA’s national adult competition committee. Beyond her administrative roles, Costamagna is a successful coach for Branson High School’s tennis teams and has been with the Special Olympics in Marin County for 23 years. Her outreach and encouragement have been instrumental in involving others in the sport of tennis.

Brad Parks Award: Baton Rouge Wheelchair Tennis Association – Baton Rouge, La.

The Brad Parks Award was established in 2002. It recognizes outstanding contributions to the game of wheelchair tennis and was named after Brad Parks, the sport’s chief pioneer and the first wheelchair tournament champion, who has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world.

In its 40-year journey, the Baton Rouge Wheelchair Tennis Association (BRWTA) has evolved from a grassroots initiative into a globally-recognized wheelchair tennis destination, earning respect from players worldwide. The association conducts year-round programs to introduce new wheelchair players to the game and has also staged the Cajun Classic, one of the most prestigious international events in the world–all solidifying its status as an international hub for wheelchair tennis enthusiasts.

Eve Kraft Outstanding Service Award: Jim Flesch – Wilmington, Del.

The Eve Kraft Outstanding Service Award honors volunteer tennis leaders for significant contributions made to tennis development in their respective communities.

Jim Flesch, a teaching pro for more than 50 years, embodies the spirit of the Eve Kraft award as a true grassroots champion of tennis. He fervently believes everyone can and should play tennis. Flesch’s innovative ideas, such as Let’s Play-Free Tennis Fridays, Tennis in the Streets, and Play in May, have introduced the sport to thousands. He ensures tennis is accessible to all by developing programs catering to every skill level and even initiated a racquet and shoe exchange program to provide equipment for players facing financial hardships.

Family of the Year: The Minor Family – Chicago

This award was initiated in 1965 by Martin L. Tressel, president of the USTA in 1965-66, to emphasize the theme that “Tennis is a Family Game.”  The award is awarded annually to the family who, in recent years, has done the most to promote amateur tennis, primarily on a volunteer basis. All members of the family should participate in some way, either as players or by offering their services in running programs or tournaments or in junior development activities.

The Minor family from Chicago initially had little knowledge of the world of junior tennis–initially seeing it as a healthy sport with valuable life lessons for their three daughters. Discovering the girls’ talent, they embarked on a family journey, traveling in their Chevy Suburban for junior tennis tournaments across the country. The daughters excelled, each earning Division I college tennis scholarships. Kristina became a lawyer; Jasmin, an Emmy-winning reporter; and Brienne, the first Black female to win an NCAA women’s singles individual championship, pursued a career on the pro tour. Inspired by their success, their parents, Kevin and Michelle, became mentors for other parents in Chicago on navigating tournament play. In 2022, Kevin tragically passed away, and at the time of his death, the Minor family rallied to solidify his legacy by creating a scholarship fund in his name. The scholarship fund raised nearly $30,000 within days of Kevin’s death. Today, the Kevin Minor Legacy Fund awards $5,000 scholarships to junior female tennis players, supporting their journey from the junior circuit to college tennis.

Member Organization of the Year Award: Miracle Hill Golf and Tennis Center – Omaha, Neb.

This award was instituted in 1981 and is given to the organization that best exemplifies service to the community, service to its members through junior and adult programs and service to the game of tennis.

Miracle Hill is a community-connected facility in Omaha, which actively endorses the USTA pathway and demonstrates its success through a consistent increase in players at all levels each year. The public club engages with the community in various ways, hosts the University of Nebraska Omaha men’s and women’s tennis teams for practice and matches, and has strong support from local players. The pros at Miracle Hill extend their impact by conducting school PE programs across the area and annually running introductory tennis programs at the Nelson Mandela school in Omaha.

National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Founders’ Service Award – Charlie Pasarell – Palm Springs, Calif.

Established in 2010, the NJTL Founders’ Service Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated a longstanding commitment to positive youth development through tennis and education, delivers outstanding service to under-resourced children with free or low-cost tennis, and provides education and life-skills programming. The NJTL network serves as the flagship program supported by the USTA Foundation.

Pasarell is a two-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist who won 23 career singles titles and 30 career doubles titles. He transcended the amateur and Open Eras, and went on to have a long administrative career in the sport. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico and a longtime resident of California, Pasarell revived the Indian Wells tournament in 1981, saving it from relocation. He was its tournament director from 1981-2009, continued his association with the event until 2012, and transformed the tournament into the largest combined men’s and women’s tour-level event. Pasarell, together with Donald Dell, Jack Kramer and Cliff Drysdale, formed the Association of Tennis Professionals–what’s known today as the ATP Tour–in 1972. In 2013, Pasarell was elected into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

In the 1960s, Pasarell noticed the need to make tennis more accessible to diverse youth. He, along with Arthur Ashe and Sheridan Snyder, co-founded the National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) network in 1969. Today, the NJTL network includes more than 250 chapters and provides free or low-cost tennis and academic programming to more than 150,000 under-resourced youth nationwide. Pasarell has called the founding of the NJTL network “the highest thing, the best thing” he achieved in the game.

NJTL of the Year Award – Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) – College Park, Md.

The NJTL of the Year Award is given to chapters that positively impact youth through the powerful combination of tennis and education. Founded in 1969 by Arthur Ashe, Charlie Pasarell, and Sheridan Snyder, the NJTL network is a nationwide group of more than 250 nonprofit youth development organizations. Supported by the USTA Foundation through financial grants, scholarship opportunities, curricula, technical assistance and training, the NJTL network provides free or low-cost tennis and education programming to more than 150,000 under-resourced youth nationwide.

The mission of the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) is to transform lives in the communities it serves through sport and education by providing tennis for everybody. For 25 years, JTCC has helped grow the sport of tennis by providing a comprehensive tennis pathway for players of all abilities that emphasizes excellence on the tennis court, in the classroom, and in the community. The pathway starts with ‘Game On!’, which delivers free tennis and education to K-12 youth in Maryland and Washington, D.C., providing students with a unique combination of athletic, academic and social learning. JTCC partners with D.C. Public Schools, Prince George’s County Public Schools, D.C. Parks and Recreation, Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning, and Prince George’s County Police Athletic League to identify schools and recreation centers for programming. The program served more than 800 youth between September 2022 and August 2023.