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2020 Award Winners

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Boy’s Scholastic Achievement - Keegan Christensen, Elizabethtown

Presented to a male high school tennis player who has excelled in his scholastic work.

The Boys Scholastic Achievement award is presented to the male high school player who has excelled in his scholastic work and tennis performance. This year’s award goes to Keegan Christensen of Elizabethtown.

Keegan began playing tennis at age eight. He is an active USTA junior player and participates in multiple USTA sanctioned events. In addition to playing in tournaments like the Creason and Ryan Holder, Keegan has participated in Junior Team Tennis, both Championship and Fall High School Interscholastic. Keegan has been a varsity starter for Central Hardin High School since 7th grade, and currently serves as Team Captain. Keegan has been selected to represent his school and other organizations in numerous competitive and exclusive groups. He is a Governor's Scholar alumnus, was the Hugh O'Bryan Youth Leadership Delegate for Central Hardin, received the University of Louisville Yarmuth Book Award, is a Lincoln Trail Youth Salute participant, and was a Youth Leadership Hardin County Delegate. He was selected to serve on the Central Hardin Executive Council and as a state BETA Club Leadership Representative. He was named Tennis Academic All State twice and has received numerous recognitions at the State and National BETA conventions for math and engineering. He is an honored member of his high school academic team where he served as Team Captain last year. In addition to these honors and awards, Keegan is ranked #1 in his class of nearly 500 students and has earned an Academic Achievement letter each of his first three years of high school with a 4.0 GPA while taking both AP and dual credit classes. Keegan has taken and passed six AP exams, earning the AP Scholar with Distinction award.


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Bruce Stone Educational Merit Award - Julie Ditty Qualls, Ashland

Given in honor of Bruce Stone to recognize an individual who has developed an outstanding tennis program that provides leadership and inspiration in junior programs for schools, colleges, parks and playgrounds, and benefits the growth of tennis.

The Bruce Stone Educational Merit Award is given in honor of Bruce Stone to recognize an individual who has developed an outstanding tennis program that provides leadership and inspiration in junior programs for schools, colleges, parks, and playgrounds, and benefits the growth of tennis. This year’s winner is Julie Ditty Qualls of Ashland.

Julie is a retired tennis professional and gives back to her community by providing free lessons and programs to area youth. Her tennis journey began playing at Russell High School Tennis in the 2nd grade and went on to be an award-winning collegiate tennis player at Vanderbilt University. Julie continued to play as a WTA pro for 10 years, she won a record 38 USTA Pro Circuit titles and played four seasons of World Team Tennis. She played in Wimbledon, US Open, Australian Open and French Open and was a member of US Fed Cup Team. Julie was elected to Vandy Athletic Hall of Fame, KY High School Hall of Fame, USTA KY Tennis Hall of Fame and the Southern Tennis Assoc. Hall of Fame. She has been a Volunteer Assistant Tennis Coach at Vanderbilt University, Assistant Coach Middle Tennessee State and Assistant Coach for the University of Louisville’s Women's Tennis Team and continues to coach the KY Jr. Elite at Southern Level team championships. Julie created, and directed free tennis lessons at the Ashland Tennis Center. Between two free clinics, she introduced tennis to nearly 700 juniors in North Eastern Kentucky. Along with the Greater Ashland Tennis Association she has also provided tennis instruction at Russell Independent Schools. Julie represents the meaning of the Bruce Stone Educational Merit Award by consistently contributing to tennis in Kentucky as a player, coach, and volunteer instructor, demonstrating the highest level of leadership and inspiration to her students and colleagues.


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CTA - Community Tennis Association/Member Organization of the Year - Greater Ashland Tennis Association, Ashland

Presented to a USTA Kentucky member organization in good standing, for outstanding service to the local community, to the organization members, and to the game of tennis.

This award is presented to a USTA Kentucky Community Tennis Association for outstanding service to the local community, to the organization members and the game of tennis. This year’s winner is the Greater Ashland Tennis Association (GATA).

GATA offers adult and junior programming and saw growth in each area. GATA offers a women’s rec league with 80 participants, adult mixers, as well as several junior 10 and under events throughout the year. They work cooperatively with Julie Ditty Qualls to run the Russell Independent School Program and new this fall was the Junior Challenge ladder. GATA hosted a successful Ashland Jr. City Championship with 40 participants. GATA organized a fundraiser to update and repair the outdoor tennis building at the Ashland Tennis Center (ATC). Community partners and individual donors contributed $28K for a new roof, windows, and kitchen improvements. The building was renamed The Jim and Helen Fout GATA Community Tennis Building to recognize the Fout’s 20 years of volunteer service with the ATC. The building is used for all tennis operations and business during the summer months, creating a savings on utility expenses for ATC. The facility can also be used by community groups for meetings, parties, and events.

GATA markets their programs via Facebook, Ashland Daily Independent and the Greater Ashland Beacon offering great coverage for local sports.


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Dee Dee Long League Spirit Award - Nancy Bishof, Lexington

Given in memory of Dee Dee Long and presented to an individual who best exhibits exemplary spirit throughout the USTA League Tennis program. Given to players, captains, or organizers.

Given in memory of Dee Dee Long and presented to an individual who best exhibits outstanding volunteer spirit through the USTA Adult League program. This year's winner is Nancy Bishof of Lexington.

Nancy is an extraordinary USTA Leagues Team Captain and dedicated volunteer who has helped grow the sport of tennis in the Central KY Area. Nancy has captained multiple teams over the past 13 years. Even in this challenging year she captained five teams and has previously captained as many as 15 in one year. In the last five years (2018-2020), she captained 98 total men’s and women’s teams at levels ranging from 2.0 to 4.0, at all age levels. Nancy promotes tennis to all and provides opportunities for new players and teams. Demonstrating her inclusivity she has welcomed a wheelchair player to her roster. Her goal is to develop new players to become players for life and is there for them on and off the court offering friendly advice and a helping hand where needed. As a local pediatrician, she offers on court medical help to injured players when needed. Adult league tennis in Lexington is better because of Nancy as she exemplifies extraordinary spirit in growing the game of tennis through the teams that she captains and other volunteers she mentors.

 


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Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award - Charles Crawford, Louisville

This award is presented to the individual or organization who demonstrates sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion through the following actions: actively champions, visibly embraces and celebrates diversity on and off the court by employing goals and strategies that create an inclusive environment; reaches out to a diverse audience through participation in community activities that celebrate diversity and inclusion; provides leadership opportunities that reflect interest in individual traits, skills, and talents of others; and proactively seeks opinions and gathers feedback from a diverse audience to gain additional perspectives and learn from others.

This award is presented to the individual or organization who demonstrates sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion through the following actions: actively champions, visibly embraces and celebrates diversity on and off the court by employing goals and strategies that create an inclusive environment; reaches out to a diverse audience through participation in community activities that celebrate diversity and inclusion; provides leadership opportunities that reflect interest in individual traits, skills, and talents of others; and proactively seeks opinions and gathers feedback from

a diverse audience to gain additional perspectives and learn from others. This year’s award recipient is Charles Crawford from Louisville.

Charles creates opportunities. He grew up economically challenged but did not grow up poor. His family instilled a drive to excel, and through the support of his family and community, he learned tennis, first playing paddle ball at the Grace Hope Presbyterian Community Center. Charles attended, and graduated from Kentucky State University, where he was a three-year member of the university tennis team. Charles had a successful career in marketing and communication for Kentucky State Government and the Kentucky State Lottery. In retirement, Charles has created opportunities for the next generations through tennis. Charles has been a co- director of the National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapter, Rising Stars of Kentucky Tennis (RSKT) for 15 years. RSKT is an organization that provides year around tennis opportunities for low-income and disadvantaged youth, as well as other youth looking to explore other opportunities an NJTL program can offer. Each year approximately 35 to 40 youth are selected to participate in the program that meets monthly either outdoors at Petersburg Tennis courts or inside at Bass Rudd Tennis Center. Charles and the program’s creator Mr. Bruce Stone have mentored 18 Rising Stars junior winners of the national Arthur Ashe Essay Contest with both National USTA and Southern Sectional winners. It is estimated that about 95% of the Rising Stars have either gone on to higher education or into military service. Between 2016 – 2019 one hundred percent of the players who graduated went on to college. Charles, who is PTR Certified, teaches summer and afterschool programs for the Louisville 10 and Under Tennis Association (LOU10U) providing free tennis programs at community centers, churches, boys and girls clubs. Through his guidance, LOU10U has hired Rising Stars as assistant coaches, and in the past three years nine have achieved PTR 10U certification. Charles also serves as the director and one of 15 volunteer coaches in the Newburg Tennis Association Annual Youth & Adult Summer Tennis Clinic. This two day a week 8-week tennis program serves about 160 participants each summer. Charles has coached the Ballard High School boy’s tennis team since 2008. This past year his number one player earned a Division 1 scholarship. The percent of African Americans participating in the Kentucky High School state tournament has never exceeded 1%. Charles uses his coaching position as a platform to lobby for high school program alignments that will create more opportunities for diverse populations of players to be able to compete at the state level. Off the court, Charles has volunteered over twenty years at Wayside Christian Mission, substitutes in challenging middle and high schools and works part-time at Cedar Ridge Camp as an Outdoor Activities Facilitator. He is a trained Team-Builder and a Low and High Ropes Confidence Course Facilitator for school outings as well as youth and adult organizations. Charles was also awarded the USTA Southern Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award for 2020. He is Diversity and Inclusion in Action!


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Claire

 

Girl’s Scholastic Achievement - Claire Pinkston, Versailles

Presented to a female high school tennis player who has excelled in her scholastic work.

The Girls Scholastic Achievement Award is presented to a female high school tennis player who has excelled in her scholastic work. This year the award winner is Claire Pinkston from Versailles.

In the classroom at Woodford County High School, Claire is ranked 4th with a 4.4 weighted GPA. She is a 2020 Kentucky Governor's Scholar Program participant, selected to the 2019 Hugh O' Brian Youth Leader- ship Program, and multiple years on the Central Kentucky Council on Youth Leadership, KHSAA Academic All-State, Governor's Cup District Winner, Governor's Cup Regional Winner, National Honor Society and Beta Club member. She is a member of the Woodford County 'A' Academic Team and has qualified for State and National PACE tournaments. Claire achieved AP Human Geography Top Performer, Advanced Pre-Calculus Top Performer, and Woodford County ACT Banner Champion with a Composite score of 34. On the court Claire has competed in many USTA tournaments (16u and 18u) reaching the semifinalists, finals, and winners’ brackets. COVID has limited play this year. She is the #1 player on her Woodford County High School Team and is an active participant in Woodford County Junior Team Tennis. Claire volunteers with Kidz Tennis which is a beginner tennis program in Woodford County for children 8-12 years old. In the Summer of 2019, she created a bilingual tennis mentor program and conducted free 1-hour beginner tennis lessons to bilingual children, blending her love of tennis, Spanish and children. Claire’s off the court interests include running as a Presidential Candidate for Kentucky United Nations Assembly (KUNA). She has sponsored multiple bills in KUNA and Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA). In line with her interests in civic duty she interviewed for and was selected as a student volunteer in the 2018 Kentucky 6th District U.S. Congressional campaign. She is a volunteer staff member at Spark Cafe which is a 'pay as you can' (non-profit) restaurant for the food insecure. Most recently she self-developed a middle school conversational Spanish mentor program at a former school that lost its language program due to economic cutbacks.


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Rainey

 

Junior Team Tennis Coordinator of the Year - Rainey Johns, Nicholasville

Presented to an individual who demonstrated excellent leadership and management of a Junior Team Tennis League or program.

This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated excellent leadership and management of a USTA Jr. Team Tennis league or program. This year’s award goes to Rainey Johns of Nicholasville.

Rainey had to work creatively this past summer due to the suspension of play in Frankfort, Lexington, and Georgetown. Through coordinated efforts with the Elizabethtown Tennis Commission, she was able to schedule additional matches for Woodford & Arlington County Clubs and create two new Jr. Team Tennis teams from Boyle and Bourbon Counties.

She also worked extremely hard to hold not only a safe and enjoyable junior team tennis league, but also ran a Team Tournament with almost 100 participants.

Rainey is a full-time employee with Woodford County Parks Department and has consistently been one of the best JTT coordinators. This past year she has gone above and beyond to bring juniors into the game.


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Junior Female Player of the Year - Carrie Beckman, Louisville

Presented to a female USTA Kentucky junior player with outstanding tennis performance and sportsmanship.

The Junior Female Player of the Year Award is presented to a female USTA Kentucky junior player with outstanding tennis performance and sportsmanship. This year’s award winner is Carrie Beckman from Louisville.

Carrie is the top female player in Kentucky and deserving of this award for the fourth straight year.

Carrie is ranked #36 in the country in Girls 18s. To add perspective, there are 9,700 girls on the 18s ranking list, landing Carrie in the to 1% nationally.

Even with a limited schedule due to COVID, Carrie won doubles at National Level 2 in February, was a Semifinalist Girls 18s Southern Level 1 Closed Championship, and a Quarterfinalist at the Winter Southern Closed in January. Carrie defeated the #1 seed during that tournament. Carrie positively represents the state wherever she travels for tennis and has committed to play college tennis at University of Notre Dame.


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Junior Male Player of the Year - Jacks Lancaster, Bowling Green

Presented to a male USTA Kentucky junior player with outstanding tennis performance and sportsmanship.

The Jr. Male Player of the Year Award is

presented to a male USTA Kentucky junior player with outstanding tennis performance and s sportsmanship. This year’s award winner is Jacks Lancaster from Bowling Green.

Jacks is a four-time Creason winner including his singles and doubles 18s win at age 16. He is a KHSAA Academic All State 2019 winner. He was on the KY High School All State Tennis Team and received the KPREP All Distinguished Honors and

Sportsmanship Award. Jacks tournament play was limited due to COVID, but he was able to participate in several tournaments at the end of the year. He finished 2020 ranked 132nd nationally. Jacks tennis talents coupled with his high-level sportsmanship is worthy of recognition.


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Mark Ragland Boys Junior Sportsmanship - Steven Larkin, Richmond

Given in memory of Mark Ragland, Jr. and presented to an outstanding male junior tennis player in recognition of his good sportsmanship.

This award is given in memory of Mark Ragland, Jr. and is presented to an outstanding male junior player in recognition of his good sportsmanship. This year’s award goes to Steve Larkin of Richmond.

Steve’s work ethic is contagious while he manages an amazing balance of competitiveness and good sportsmanship. He demonstrates a high level of integrity on and off the court. Steve has played tennis for over 12 years and competitively for more than seven years. He has maintained a ranking in the top 30 in his age division for the past four years and the top 20 the past three years in Kentucky. Steve has been a regular participant in both local and state USTA events winning or placing in many tournaments. He also plays Junior Team Tennis and competed in The Pan-American Jr tournament in 2019. Steve was awarded the 2019 Leadership Award at the UK Tennis Camp; 2018 & 2019, Sportsmanship award nominee at Southern District JTT Championships; 2018 Sportsmanship Award at the Sayre Tennis Camp. He has volunteered 10 hours per week for the past six years as an assistant tennis instructor at the Arlington Country Club each summer and is now a paid instructor at the Arlington Country Club. He also volunteers for the Berea Mountain Tennis Circuit tennis programs teaching kids of all age, and has volunteered for many years as a ball person at the pro circuit Kentucky Bank Challenger and the 2019 Top Seed Open in Lexington.

 


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Mary Lou Hambrick Girls Junior Sportsmanship - Avery Voss, Prospect

Given in honor or Mary Lou Hambrick, long-time leader of KY Jr. Tennis, and presented to an outstanding female junior tennis player in recognition of her good sportsmanship.

This award is given in honor of Mary Lou Hambrick, long-time leader of KY Jr. Tennis and is presented to an outstanding female junior tennis player in recognition of her good sportsmanship. This year's award winner is Avery Voss of Louisville.

Avery started playing tennis four years ago and enjoys it as much now as she did in the beginning. She competes

in local and regional tournaments, including Junior Team Tennis. Avery is always respectful and positive to opponents and teammates. During her matches, her pleasant demeanor often makes it hard to tell if she is winning or losing the match.

Off the court, Avery has perfect attendance at school with a 4.0 GPA. She is on the Honor Roll and is a Merit Award winner for Religion, Social Studies and Math Achievement. She has made so many lasting friendships through tennis and continues to improve and work hard with the help of her Coach Rob Spencer. The sportsmanship she shows reflects the kind of person she truly is on and off the court.


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Paulette Griffith Local League Coordinator Award - Stephanie Gray, Calhoun

Given in memory of Paulette Griffith and presented to an individual who has demonstrated excellent leadership and management of a local USTA league or program.

This award is given in memory of Paulette Griffith and presented to an individual who has demonstrated excellent leadership and management of a local USTA league. This year’s award is given to Stephanie Gray of Owensboro.

Stephanie is the local league coordinator for Owensboro and was instrumental in her efforts to organize and host the first ever Regional Adult League Tournament in Hopkinsville in August. This tournament enabled many

league teams from rural areas the opportunity to qualify for State championships. Many of these teams would otherwise not have been able to compete at the state level. This effort helps USTA increase team participation in league play. Stephanie effectively

managed all pre-tournament communication and a flexible tournament schedule implementing new ideas and processes. She also assisted player placement to fill teams. Stephanie went above and beyond and was an innovator during this unprecedented year.


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Tennis Facility of the Year - Top Seed Tennis Club, Nicholasville

Given to an outstanding public or private tennis facility, school or park for its contribution and support in the promotion of tennis.

This award is given to an outstanding public or private tennis facility for its contribution and support in the promotion of tennis. This year’s award winner is Top Seed Tennis Club in Nicholasville.

Top Seed Tennis Club opened in 2018. Since that time, they have hosted numerous junior tournaments including an ITF tournament, high school matches, KHSAA state tournament, and the College Tennis Showcase where aspiring Kentucky high school players have the opportunity to play in front of and potentially be recruited by Kentucky college coaches. Top Seed is the home of Transylvania University Tennis and hosts many collegiate matches. At a higher level, Top Seed hosted the ITF Women's World Tennis Tour $100,000 Kentucky Open. And over the July 4 weekend hosted a charity fundraiser featuring top women players such as Bouchard, Rogers, Pegula and Fernandez to benefit the Young Kings Scholarship program. Top Seed was the home for the first WTA event in the US since the onset of the Pandemic and tennis shut down – The historic Top Seed Open $225,00 WTA tournament. Tournament organizers successfully managed a very tight planning schedule amidst many new COVID regulations and were able to deliver an exceptional tournament experience for top level players including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka to name a few. The tournament was broadcast worldwide

shining a tennis spotlight on the state of Kentucky.

Top Seed offers 12 Indoor DecoTurf Courts with indirect LED lighting, 9 Outdoor DecoTurf lighted courts, ball machines and a state-of-the-art work out facility.

 

 

 

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