Presidents Letter December 2021

December 2021 President’s Letter


I always think of the end of the year as a time of reflection.  Thankfully, Kentucky tennis has many reasons to celebrate 2021.  Please join me in reviewing the highlights.


The USTA KY Board heard a presentation from Cee Jai Jones, Director of Diversity, NJTL and Grants for USTA Southern.  Her presentation on “Leading with Intent: Strengthening the Board’s DEI Commitment” was well received by the Board and provided us with a roadmap to improve our efforts in regards to diversity, equity and inclusion.  The Board named Sonya Harward as our Board of Directors Diversity and Inclusion Champion. 


The USTA KY Board was able to meet in person for the first time since the onset of the pandemic with an outdoor meeting during the Lexington Challenger in July, which returned after a one-year absence. 


Our Parks and Recreation Subcommittee developed a pilot program called Tennis in the Parks.  Grants were given to Parks and Recreation departments to help cover the costs of developing tennis programs in public parks.  The four pilot programs took place in Glasgow, Hopkinsville, Mt. Sterling and Murray and nearly 60 people were able to play tennis for the first time.  The program is being copied at the Sectional level. 


Seven schools in Louisville participated in after school clinics at parks near their campus.


The first Special Olympics tennis clinic was held at Kereiakes Park in Bowling Green and hosted by the Southern Kentucky Tennis Association, Special Olympics Kentucky, WKU women’s tennis team and the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department.  There were 16 participants ranging in age from 8 to 46. 


Our popular social league known as Drop Shots continues to expand adding a 3rd location in Louisville for a total of 4 nights of play.


Our 14 and under Intermediate Junior Team Tennis team from Bowling Green, coached by Tim Dethridge, won Kentucky’s first Southern Sectional Championship in a decade. 


The USTA Southern Summer meeting was held in Bentonville, Arkansas in July and marked the first in person meeting for Southern since January of 2020.  USTA Kentucky’s on-court banner campaign “Lode the Code” was developed by our Manager of Marketing and Communications, Kim Lonneman.  The signs and banners were placed at public park courts around the state to provide information to new and returning players by loading the QR code.  The idea has been replicated by USTA Southern and USTA National has shown interest. 


The Tennis Industry Association released great news regarding sales of tennis equipment for the first six months of 2021. Tennis racquet sales were up 40.5% with most of the increase due to sales of premium racquets costing $50 or more thought to be returning players.  Sales of entry level racquets for new players was up 25%.  Tennis ball sales were up nearly 9% versus the first half of 2020.  String unit sales saw their largest increase ever recorded being up 66% compared to the first half of 2020. 


Overall USTA League participation was up 19 % over 2020 and 2% over 2019


The Tri-Level Southern Sectional Championships were held again this year in Louisville and saw an increase of 11% participation compared to 2019. 


On a national level, we had several teams achieve great success this year. 

The Louisville Mathes team was runner up in the National Men’s 18 and over 4.5 Championships!

The Purchase Area Taylor team finished 7th in the National Women’s 18 and over 3.5 Championships!

The Lexington Hardesty team finished 4th in the National Men’s 40 and over 4.5 Championships!

The Louisville Meadows team finished 11th in the National Women’s 40 and over 3.5 Championships!


Donnie Head, Greg Hill and Dee Maynard were named as inductees to the 2021 Kentucky Tennis Hall of Fame.  Susan Sloan was named as an inductee to the 2021 USTA Southern Tennis Hall of Fame.


The Louisville Area 10 and under Tennis Association will receive the 2021 USTA Southern Diversity and Inclusion Award.


The USTA Kentucky Board of Directors had the opportunity to hold our quarterly meeting at the Warren County Tennis and Sports Facility which opened in November.  The partnership between the Warren County Fiscal Court, Warren County Parks and Recreation and the Southern Kentucky Tennis Association (SOKY) is remarkable and hopefully will serve as a blueprint for other community tennis associations and local governments.  The facility boasts 6 indoor courts, 6 outdoor courts, meeting rooms, a tennis themed play area for children, a lounge and an office for SOKY. 

The month of November also saw the grand opening of six reconstructed courts at the Bob Amos Park in Pikeville.  In addition to public play, the courts will be utilized by the University of Pikeville and four local high schools. 


2021 has been a year of transition for our USTA Kentucky staff.  Stacey Croley did a wonderful job as our Manager of Community Tennis for seven years before deciding to stay at home with her daughters.  Thankfully, we didn’t miss a beat when our own Maddie Notoris was named to lead our community tennis program.  We were then fortunate to have L.J. Allara to take over Maddie’s former position as Youth Programs Coordinator.  Taylor Urquhart will complete her final year with us at Manager of Operations and Program Development.  Taylor has done a tremendous job and will be sorely missed. Although she has moved to Atlanta and now is a contract employee at USTA Southern, we are blessed that she is still helping us through our Annual Meeting in January.  Last but not least, Marcia Littlefield brings strong organizational skills and passion for tennis to her new role as Taylor’s replacement. 


It was a delight to learn this month that the Eastern Kentucky University men’s and women’s tennis programs are being reestablished. 


I wish everyone a safe and healthy holiday season!


At Your Service,


Mike Eden

USTA KY President